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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 1
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The spiritual significance of marriage

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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  Concern for donors to Merkos L'Inyonei ChinuchTable of contentsThe mystic intent of the use of willows on Hoshanah Rabbah  

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No. 108

This letter is addressed to Rabbi Tzvi Shusterman.
B"H, Tuesday, Parshas Lech Lecha, 5704
Greetings and blessings,

In response to the invitation to your wedding which I received after a delay:

I send my blessing, a blessing of mazal tov, mazal tov. May you build a house in Israel on the foundations of the Torah and its mitzvos.

It is possible to explain that the terms chasunah and chasan [are associated with the concept of] descent as [our Sages say] nachus darga, "go down a step." It is explained in several sources (including the letter of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe shlita, quoted in the anthology HaYom Yom, p. 78) that the phrase[1] "as you go on your way" refers to [the soul's] descent from above and its journeys in this world until old age.

These journeys involve two factors: a) proceeding on one's way, and b) knowing where to proceed.

The actual progress is undertaken by the body. It is, however, the soul which determines the straight path on which to proceed. This concept can be understood in terms of the example our Sages (Sanhedrin 91a,b) give for the body and the soul, [that of a blind man and a limp man]. The soul compensates for [the impediments of] the blind man, [the body,] and the body compensates for [the impediments of] the limp man, [the soul]. It is through joining them together that a person gains the ability to proceed. This union [can be] described [with the analogy of] the marriage of a man and a woman. For this reason, our material world is called a Hilula (Eruvin 54a), a term which means "wedding feast," as reflected in the Zohar (the beginning of Parshas Chayei Sarah, Vol. I, p. 181b). The purpose of this journey is to achieve the love and fear [of G-d] ([which are] "wings") [for] the Torah and its mitzvos.[2]

On the surface, a difficulty can be raised: Based on our Sages' statements (Bereishis Rabbah[3]), [it would appear that "a journey" would not serve the above purposes, because] a journey minimizes three things:

  1. one's reputation - [In the analogue,] this refers to a reduction in one's involvement in the mitzvos, as Rashi and the Matnos Kehunah comment on the Midrash;

  2. one's wealth - [In the analogue,] this refers to a reduction in one's love and fear [of G-d] which are called gold and silver. For even if a person will be a perfect tzaddik, he will not attain the level of close connection [to G-d] his soul enjoyed before it descended [to this material world] as stated in Tanya, ch. 37;

  3. one's capacity to reproduce - [In the analogue,] this refers to a reduction in one's occupation in Torah study as indicated by our Sages' statement (Bechoros 44b): "You will not have a barren one among the Torah scholars."[4]

For in this material world, there are several impediments to the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos.

This difficulty is explained by the Midrash, which states that the Holy One, blessed be He, blesses Avraham (the soul, as stated in the Zohar, Parshas Chayei Sarah, loc. cit.) so that, on the contrary, the journey will lead to "I will bless you,"[5] [bringing an increase in] financial resources, reputation, and the conception of offspring.

In general, the concept parallels the idea that "Every day, a person's natural inclination offers him a powerful [challenge], and were the Holy One, blessed be He, not to help him, he could not overcome it" (Sukkah 52b). The "blessing" [granted for the journey] is the assistance [mentioned in the above quote]. See the root of this matter [as discussed in] Kuntres U'Mayon, Discourse 13, ch. 2, and Discourse 14, ch. 1.

[When this assistance is granted,] through the descent of the soul into the body, [a person] attains the love of G-d with all his might (money). Similarly, the mitzvos (reputation) were given only on this material plane. And with regard to Torah study, our Sages said (Pesachim 50a): "Happy is he who comes here[6] with the Torah (the conception of offspring) (which he studied) in this world in his hand."

Of these three elements which represent the ultimate of progress on the path of life, the fundamental unity achieved in the sublime realm is through the Torah and its mitzvos. For love and fear are merely wings[7] [for the Torah and its mitzvos] as stated in Tanya, the conclusion of ch. 40.

Within the Torah and its mitzvos themselves, the mitzvos are referred to as eirusin, consecration, while Torah represents nisuin, the consummation of the marriage bond (Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, the maamar entitled Vayidaber Elokim, sec. 4, et al.). This is the ultimate purpose of this world,[8] for it was not created for the sake of chaos, but was formed to be settled.[9]

In addition to the concept of journeying [that relates to our physical world in general], there is also the concept of exile. "[The Jews] were exiled to Babylonia ... to Rome." Therefore before any other matter, attention must be paid to the ascent from exile, which [involves] teshuvah. Just as the descent [into exile] is not at all gradual; so, too, the ascent, [through teshuvah,] should be a spring forward that knows no gradation. (The parallel in our Divine service can be comprehended.) This is alluded to by the verse:[10] "Flee my beloved and be like a deer."

These concepts are also explained thoroughly in the additions to Torah Or, in the maamar entitled Lehavin Lamah LaAsid Lavo....

With the blessings of mazal tov, and [with the blessing,] "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,"

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Chairman of the Executive Committee

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) [Devarim 6:7.]

  2. (Back to text) [Tanya, ch. 40.]

  3. (Back to text) [39:11.]

  4. (Back to text) [Which shows a connection between reproduction and Torah study.]

  5. (Back to text) [Bereishis 12:2.]

  6. (Back to text) [To the World to Come.]

  7. (Back to text) [I.e., a media to elevate the Torah and its mitzvos.]

  8. (Back to text) [Which is described as a wedding feast (Eruvin, loc. cit.).]

  9. (Back to text) [Yeshayahu 45:18.]

  10. (Back to text) [Shir HaShirim 8:14. Tzvi, "deer," is the first name of Rabbi Shusterman to whom this letter is addressed.]


  Concern for donors to Merkos L'Inyonei ChinuchTable of contentsThe mystic intent of the use of willows on Hoshanah Rabbah  


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