Getting Married — The Greatest Joy of All

Marriage is the greatest degree of joy that is to be found in a human being’s life. So much so, that concerning the joy of marriage, the Gemara1 uses an expression that is not found concerning any other joyous matter: “He who derives pleasure from the feast of a chassan and provides him with joy merits the Torah that was given with five ‘voices.’ And he who derives pleasure and fails to provide him with joy....”

The reason for this is the following: The Zohar2 explains that when a soul descends to this world, half of it descends in one body (of the man) and half of it descends in a second body (of the woman). This is why we find the expression “half a body,” since within each of them there resides no more than half of the soul.

Thus the verse states3 that “man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” That is to say, that husband and wife are indeed one entity, only that they were vested in two separate bodies.

We therefore understand the tremendous degree of joy that is associated with a marriage: Until the time of marriage, chassan and kallah were distant one from another — at times they may even have been in two separate countries. When “G‑d sits and arranges matches,” the result is that they meet and unite. Thus the enormous amount of joy at the meeting of chassan and kallah.

Even when two friends get together after not having seen each other for a lengthy period of time, there is a great degree of joy in their meeting. And this is so, notwithstanding the fact that they are two separate individuals, and it is but the fondness that they have for each other that binds them.

Surely, then, with regard to marriage, where the soul finds its very own second half, thereby becoming whole and complete, without a doubt this results in a truly tremendous amount of joy.

Marriage is thus a far-reaching event in man’s life, as it provides him with a state of completion.

We may say that marriage is a comprehensive condition, not only with regard to man, but in his relation to the supernal worlds as well. For when man becomes complete, it enables his spiritual service to attain a state of completion as well, and a Jew’s service in this nether world directly effects and causes a state of attainment and completion in the higher worlds as well. This is in keeping with the statement that “G‑d passionately desired a dwelling place in the nethermost world.”

A completed physical dwelling causes a state of completion within the individual who dwells therein, as the Gemara states, “A beautiful dwelling expands a person’s cognition.”

So, too, does a Jew’s service in this lowly world bring about completion in all the upper worlds as well, so that there is drawn down within them a new level of divine illumination, a level that had never previously been drawn down within them.

An additional reason for the joy that accompanies marriage: The purpose of marriage is to bring about new generations, generation after generation, ad infinitum. This comes about through G‑d’s infinite power that transcends worldly limitations.

The aspect of joy is a vital ingredient in accomplishing this degree of limitlessness, as joy has the capacity to transcend and break through all physical boundaries and limitations.

(Excerpted from Sichos Kodesh, Parshas Tazria and Seitzei, 5714)

Building the Proper Foundation for Marriage

.. After a lengthy pause, I delighted in receiving your letter from the 11th of Adar; especially so, since, in the terminology of our Sages, “All follows the conclusion,” [and you conclude with] the transmission of the glad tiding with regard to your daughter.

May it be G‑d’s will that the wedding take place in a good and auspicious hour, and in accord with the traditional blessing — materially and spiritually concurrently.

Though the text of the traditional blessing is “materially and spiritually,” with the word “material” placed before the word “spiritual,” the intent is clear:

For though a person’s life, as beheld by a human being, begins with material matters — eating, drinking and the like — and only after two years or more does the child begin to speak, etc.; nevertheless, the spirituality that comes after this period of time continuously gains in strength.

This is accomplished not through negating the physical, but rather by purifying, elevating and illuminating the physical, so that it is a fit vessel to matters of the spirit.

The person is thereby able to fulfill his mission within this world, particularly with regard to those aspects of the mission that can only be successfully fulfilled through interaction with the physical.

You surely suspect me, and indeed it is so, that my intent with the above is not for the sake of a discourse, and surely not to — heaven forfend — admonish, but that this refers to actual deeds, for “Deed is above all else,” i.e., the performance of practical mitzvos. Moreover, [it is important] not only that one understands how precious they are, but to actually fulfill them.

To the contrary, the importance lies in the fulfillment of the mitzvos, and it does not matter as much that the understanding of their significance will come only after their performance.

If this is the case with regard to all the mitzvos, as well as with regard to each day and period of one’s life, how much more so when the matter at hand is one of the most fundamental of all mitzvos and the period of life is such that it serves as a foundation for the entire lifetime that will follow.

With regard to the matter at hand: this refers to that period of time when one prepares for family life, which in truth is so fundamentally different [from one’s prior life], and contains an entirely different content than the period of life prior to marriage [and the preparations thereto].

So much so, that our Sages, of blessed memory, refer to the single male and female as but “half a body”: only through the institution of marriage do the man and woman become one complete and wholly unified entity, by dint of each one of the partners in marriage completing the other.

This is why the custom is to bless the chassan and kallah with the marriage blessing that they build an “eternal edifice.” Of course, prior to erecting a building, one must first lay down the foundation, as the strength of the entire building and its endurance, first and foremost, depend on the character, soundness and completeness of the foundation.

As mentioned above, these preliminary days serve as a preparation for the entire lifetime that follows. From this we glean that it is necessary to utilize this time for strengthening and fortifying oneself against all future changes, etc., that may come to pass during the course of all the years to come.

And from the material we can infer with regard to the spiritual:

Just as with regard to laying the foundation of a house of wood and stone, one uses the expertise of an individual who knows the most about the composition of a foundation and how the foundation is to be laid. This expert will base his judgment about laying the foundation for the present home on his past experience or the experiences of other builders who preceded him.

All of these experts will base their judgment on their vast experience with various materials that in the past were able to withstand varied stresses and changes, and moreover, had already previously undergone many tests.

Once the expert has stated his opinion, his advice will be followed as to the actual laying of the foundation. The opinion of the person who will live in the house is of absolutely no import.

Surely it is not at all important whether the person who will live in this house understands why one particular building material is better for laying the foundation than another, since the future home dweller need not be an expert with regard to laying a foundation, nor even be an expert regarding the walls and the roof.

On the contrary, the more the future home dweller will be enamored merely by the building’s external beauty and from the critique of his neighbors — people who see but the husk and shell of the building but fail to see its internal structure and true integrity — the lesser will be the true quality and strength of the future structure.

All the above, as mentioned earlier, applies equally to the “eternal edifice” of marriage:

For with regard to our nation, the Jewish People, one need not search long and hard in order to know what are its true foundations, foundations that enable it to exist as an “eternal edifice,” both with regard to the nation as a whole as well as to its individual members.

Furthermore, the Jewish people are rich in experiences of individuals who throughout the generations experimented with different lifestyles — and here too, [the spectrum ranges] from one extreme to the other.

When one peruses the history of the Jewish people, and surely if one does not satisfy himself with mere perusal but contemplates the matter properly, one reaches the following inescapable conclusion:

Whenever Jews throughout history, from the time of Sinai until the present, strayed from the tried and true path of Torah and mitzvos, one of the following two things happened after a short period of time:

Either they returned to their roots and their Jewish path of life — the path of the “Torah of Life” — ... or if they continued living not in accordance with the Torah and its mitzvos, they ultimately were assimilated and absorbed within the gentile nations....

May it be G‑d’s will that the marriage of your daughter take place in a good and auspicious hour in all details and aspects, and may they build their house in Israel on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos — an everlasting edifice, blessed simultaneously both materially and spiritually.

(Excerpted from a letter of the Rebbe, dated 24 Adar I, 5736)

The Purpose of Marriage

The whole aspect of marriage serves as a preparation and cornerstone to the main thing that results from it — the fulfillment of the commandment of “pru u’rvu,”4be fruitful and multiply.” This is the culmination of the establishment of a house in Israel — “I have always called my wife, ‘my house’” — that is the result of marriage.

Two manners of conduct are herein possible:

a) “I have called ‘my wife’ — ‘my wife.’” That is to say, seeing one’s wife as an entity entirely unto herself, without the ultimate purpose of “I have always called my wife, ‘my house’” — and this too is a proper path and in accordance with the Torah.

b) That the entire purpose of married life is but for the sake of fulfilling the command of “pru u’rvu,” “be fruitful and multiply.” So that from the very outset one sees within one’s wife the purpose and goal that will later result — “my house.”

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 174ff.)

Eternal Marriage

The marriage of each and every Jew is a part, as it were, of the general “marriage” between G‑d and His nation, the Jewish people — “Mikadeish Amo Yisrael.”

We thus understand exceedingly well why marriage is meant to be permanent: Just as the marriage between G‑d and His nation that took place at Mattan Torah is an eternal bond and not subject to being severed — not even in times of exile — so too, the mirror marriage of man and wife is an eternal union, not meant to ever be severed.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIV, p. 141)