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The Wedding Maamar

The Wedding Maamar

Greeting the Bride

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Introduction


Before the actual wedding ceremony begins, the groom traditionally sits with relatives and friends and says some words of Torah. In many circles, he will discuss the following maamar, which was delivered by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1954. In doing so, the groom is inviting the Rebbe to be present at the wedding.

If you listen carefully, you will notice that an entire chain of rebbes are mentioned by name, from the Arizal and the Baal Shem Tov up to the Rebbe’s predecessor and father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak. As they are mentioned, each comes to participate in the celebration.



1. Outer Meeting, Inner Meeting


“Come, my beloved, to greet the bride! Let us behold the Shabbat!”

At the Rebbe’s wedding, his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, unveiled the innermost meaning of this verse. He quoted from Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer that a groom is like a king. A bride is like a queen.

In this case, he continued, the groom, the king, is G‑d; and the bride, the queen, is the Jewish People.

That tells us that when the groom and bride meet under the chuppah, it's not just these two souls uniting. We say, “Come my beloved to greet the bride!” and we are inviting G‑d to approach His people with the anticipation and love that a groom feels for his bride.

And yet deeper:

The Kabbalah provides an intricate map of relationships at their origin. The Kabbalah provides an intricate map of relationships at their origin. Zah and malchut are the masculine and feminine of the divine.That’s the ten sefirot, which are the divine, inner soul of every thing in our world. And their interactions are the soul of every communication in the world.

Within the ten sefirot, the masculine and feminine aspects are called zah and malchut.

In our case, zah is the groom, and malchut is the bride—so that we are inviting zah to greet malchut. Under the chuppah, we are uniting the feminine and the masculine aspects of the divine.

In that talk, the Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, explains that there are two steps to this unification.

In the first step, as zah meets malchut, the effect is all-encompassing, dramatically shifting the relationship. Nevertheless, the effect is only external. Only after that is zah drawn to malchut in an inner way, so that there’s a real, inner change.

In every relationship where one is transmitting and the other is receiving, you will find the same order.In every relationship where one is transmitting and the other is receiving, called mashpia and mekabel We call the two parties of such a relationship the mashpia and the mekabel.

In the initial meeting of the mashpia and the mekabel, you could say the outside of the mashpia makes contact with the outside of the mekabel. Yet in that external meeting, the mekabel enters into the world of the mashpia. Now the mekabel is ready to receive in an inner way.

In the maamar, the Previous Rebbe provides two examples of this dynamic. One describes how a teacher relates to a student; the other describes how a father plays with his small child.

These are not just examples of the two stages these relationships pass through. They also describe something very profound about each of these two stages.

First, they tell us that the external meeting provides something that cannot be provided in an inner meeting. Because, in this meeting, the mashpia does not need to compromise with the mekabel’s capacity to absorb. That’s why it has such a powerful, all-encompassing effect on the mekabel.

Nevertheless, this is only a preface to the inner meeting. In the inner meeting, the mashpia must constrain himself to provide only that which the mekabel can receive. Yet it's through that inner meeting that they can both reach higher, even beyond that all-encompassing effect.

That’s the meaning of the chuppah. As the Alter Rebbe explains, the chuppah encompasses the groom and bride as one. When that stage comes first, then the inner connection that follows takes them to a yet higher place, a place where the very essence of both of them meet and unite as one.

Now let's look at those two examples.


2. The Joke and the Lesson


The Talmud tells us that a teacher begins his lecture with a joke. Everyone laughs together. Then, when he's actually teaching, the students are sitting in awe, absorbing his wisdom.

On the one hand, the opening joke provides only a superficial glimpse of the teacher's mind. On the other hand, it’s with that small glimpse that the students are drawn into their teacher’s way of thinking. Now they are able to absorb the lesson that follows.

There's a whole Kabbalah to laughter.There's a whole Kabbalah to laughter. The Mittler Rebbe describes laughter as simple, undiluted pleasure. The Rebbe Rashab says that's what we are talking about here. Laughter acts as a kind of chuppah, an all-encompassing effect that is a vital preface to the inner connection that follows.

The inner connection is when the teacher transmits knowledge to the students. There's pleasure there too, but it's diluted by the pursuit of knowledge.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but the point is that the laughter is actually a more powerful transmission, from a more essential place within the teacher, than the lesson that follows.

Nevertheless, when the students absorb the teacher's lesson, truly internalizing it, and the teacher sees that, he experiences an even higher form of pleasure—such a deep pleasure that the teacher and student aren't even aware of it. It's beyond feeling.

That explains the assertion of the rabbis that you learn more from your students than from your teachers or colleagues. Because when your students absorb your teachings and make them their own, that touches the very essence of your being.


3. Father and Child


Next comes the example of a father who wants to play with his little child. The child lives in a different world than the father, down there on the floor. So the father stoops down and picks him up.

The father hasn’t given anything to the child and the child hasn’t yet received anything from his father. Yet, through this uplifting, the child enters the father’s world. Now they can relate to one another.

When the Mezritcher Maggid gave this example, he mentioned that the child plays with the father's beard.The imagery of a child playing with his father’s beard has deep meaning. There's meaning there.

The beard represents the thirteen divine attributes of mercy that are beyond this world—and therefore capable of repairing it. And yet, they are still related to the world. They are, after all, G‑d’s compassion for His world.

In this way, the beard signifies the initial, external and all-encompassing connection—the delight the father shows by just playing with his child. Through that play, when the father begins to teach the child, the connection is much deeper. It reaches to the very core of both of them, uniting them there.

The Tzemach Tzedek explains this dynamic in many places: The initial meeting is actually much more powerful, but it’s the internal union that leads to the core-essence.


4. Beginning the Day Right


We go through this process on a daily basis.

We start the day with our prayers. The rabbis say that if you go out of your way to greet someone before you’ve said your morning prayers, it’s as though you made offerings on a forbidden altar.

The Rebbe Maharash explains: Before you have prayed, you are your own altar.To pray means to no longer be your own altar. Only once you've prayed are you connected to the divine.

To make that connection, the same two-step order applies. First there has to be an external kind of meeting. You reflect on how your soul is captured within a body and a mundane, limiting world. You feel bitter over the distance between you and anything divine.

After that, the prayer itself is an inner connection—so deep that you can now draw the divine into all your daily, material concerns. You can even make them expressions of the divine.

How can prayer make everyday activities divine?

There’s a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that explains that. The Baal Shem Tov asks, “What’s so terrible about greeting someone before praying?” And he answers according to a teaching of the Arizal.

The Arizal explains why all the siblings have to respect the oldest son. He describes a stream of life flowing from the father through each child, beginning with the the oldest and from there, step by step, to the other children. It comes out that the oldest son is the first, most vital transmission of the father’s spirit, upon which all the other sons depend.

The Baal Shem Tov applies the same principle to your thoughts, words and actions over the day. They all extend, receive life, and are shaped by the very first words you say when you wake.

If so, the first words you say—and the first thoughts, and actions— have to be connected to your divine mission on earth, which is to serve your Maker.Your first words of the day are the channel from which all your other words extend. That way, you bring that divine mission into all your thoughts, words and actions of your entire day.

And that’s no small thing. It says, “There’s tremendous produce in the power of an ox.” Meaning: By harnessing an ox, a human can harvest far more produce. So too, by harnessing the everyday, material world in your divine mission, you unleash the very essence of divine power.


5. Reconnecting the Feminine


All this brings us back to the idea of uniting the masculine and feminine aspects of the ten sefirot. We need to ask the question: Why is it that only when the masculine enters the feminine in an inner way, only then do they both attain something so high, so essential?

The reason is because the feminine aspect of the ten sefirot has much deeper roots than the masculine. The feminine aspect of the sefirot has much deeper roots, in “the beginning that cannot be known.” The feminine is rooted in a place called “the beginning that cannot be known.” From there, it descends into creation, and with that descent those roots become concealed.

It’s up to the masculine aspect, zah, to uncover those roots. And when zah does that, then malchut, the feminine aspect, rises beyond zah, the masculine.

Now we can understand why the order has to follow those two steps:

First, zah—represented by the groom— has to be introduced to malchut—represented by the bride— in a way that expresses the advantage of zah’s qualities over malchut. What's that advantage? Quite simply, that only zah can connect malchut back to her roots.

But zah’s qualities are limited, as we explained earlier. So there has to be that inner connection. The whole point of that inner connection is for zah to put its own qualities aside and focus on the qualities of malchut.

It’s only through that kind of connection that we reach the place where malchut is rooted—far beyond the roots of zah. In fact, at that point there’s a reversal, and malchut becomes mashpia to zah.

That’s the meaning of the verse, “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband.” The crown is above the head, and empowers a king to rule.


6. The Two Sides of Shabbat


There’s then two extremes with malchut, parallel to the two extremes expressed in Shabbat.

On the one hand, Shabbat is the mekabel—it receives from the six days that precede it. If you don’t prepare anything during those six days, you don’t have anything to eat on Shabbat.

On the other hand, not only is Shabbat the holiest of all days, but Shabbat is mashpia to all of them.On Shabbat, there’s a reversal, and the feminine empowers the masculine. All the days of the week are blessed by Shabbat.

Why is it that way? Because Shabbat is related to malchut.

Malchut is that divine, feminine force that descends into our world to purify and elevate it, beginning with the animal within us. That labor of purification happens during the six days of work.

But through that labor, malchut—and so Shabbat—rises to a place beyond the six days, beyond zah.


7. Greeting the Bride


Now let’s go back to that verse, “Come, my beloved, to greet the bride! Let us behold the Shabbat!”

As we said, that’s us beckoning zah to enter into malchut.

So the first step is just that zah should come to greet malchut. But through that, zah comes to behold the inner beauty of malchut, as she is rooted much higher than zah.

That’s why we say “Let us behold the Shabbat!” Us—in plural. Because not only will malchut be connected to her original place, but zah will also receive from that origin of malchut, through malchut.

And that’s the way it works with every mashpia and mekabel—there’s this reversal at the end of the process.With every mashpia and mekabel there’s a reversal at the end of the process. By connecting the mekabel to her roots, the mashpia attains something he cannot get on his own—as in the example of the teacher who gains more from his students than from any teacher or colleague.

It’s especially so with a groom and bride. At that point where the groom puts himself aside so that there can be an inner connection with the bride, that’s when a woman of valor becomes the crown of her husband.

Through that, an infinite light is brought into the world, which is manifest through upright and blessed children and children’s children occupied with Torah and mitzvos.


Published on the occasion of the wedding of Michoel Dovid Freeman to Chaya Mushka Fogelman.

An essay of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory; adapted by Tzvi Freeman. Special thanks to Rabbi Avraham Altein for his review, insights and emendations.
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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norman hauptman yonkers December 14, 2016

Genesis/Torah specifies a man shall unite with a woman. This is the holy/Divine basis for marriage. Reply

Michael Minnesota November 25, 2016

All very incisive, but particularly meaningful were: "Reconnecting with the Feminine"-- echos of Carl Jung's anima/animus-- "Father and Child"-- up-lifting the child-- and "Beginning the Day Right." I strive to have the first words I utter each morning be... with conviction: "This is the day that the Lord hath made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Before heading out the door I make a point of quiet time and morning devotions. Having modeled this for my son, he too has "adopted" this "custom." Reply

norman hauptman yonkers November 24, 2016

This is a meaningful essay

Which guides Divinely! Reply

Anonymous NYC, USA November 23, 2016

No infinite light When so many marriages fail, both religious and secular....how to understand the "joke" and the "lesson".
Sadly, I underwent one "bad joke" followed by a second "bad joke". Somehow the "lesson" has not been learned. Yikes. Reply

Lana Claycamp November 22, 2016

Wisdom is pleasant to the soul Beautiful! Thank you Reply

Anonymous November 21, 2016

Wonderfully explained and written! Thanks for posting! Reply

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