"It is said that at the revelatory confrontation on Mount Sinai, the Divine presence, the Shekhinah, was too much for the Children of Israel. They could not bear it.
Therefore, God decided to have a sanctuary built, not only to serve Him as a dwelling, but also to protect the Israelites.
Historically, this sanctuary, or the Ark of the Covenant, became the geographical place, or center, from which the Shekhinah could emanate.
But, of course, this is not to be understood in the sense of a physical source of light or energy.
For the Shekhinah is everywhere, and there is no existence, no reality, without the Shekhinah.
The emanation of the Shekhinah should be understood rather as that which happens whenever there is a sharp consciousness of Divinity, whenever the Shekhinah breaks through into life and awareness."
From Pebbles of Wisdom from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (forthcoming)