The Exodus was a romance, Mount Sinai was a marriage—a marriage of the Children of Israel …a marriage of the created being and its Creator, of earth and heaven…and the G‑d who rescued them from Egypt, of a created being and its Creator, of earth and heaven, body and soul, being and not-being.

Marriage is a story in three parts, each part an eternal moment.

First, two must fall in love.

Not a rational love—no, that won’t do. They must be nuts for one another. Obsessed. They must feel they cannot live without one another, as though their very existence depends on their closeness to one another. They must feel that they are truly one, even as they are apart.

But they are not yet one.

There must be a covenant. A covenant that excludes all others, that says “only you and I exist in this space.” He says to her, “You are sanctified to me”—you are separate from all others, distinct and unique.

That covenant is an intertwining of souls, bound by love, and not easily untied, because it is meant to last forever. But still they are not yet one.

The love is not enough, for each feels a different love. The covenant is not enough, because they remain two beings. They must rise and enter a space that can hold the two of them as one, a space in which there is no other, because there is no otherness, there is only One.

And that is the chuppah. Here they are one.

From now on, every moment of the rest of their lives together, they will continue to make two into one, in a constant union of love, covenant and embrace.

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

All of You

The chuppah of the Jewish people was Mount Sinai. The chuppah for each one of us is a mitzvah. Any mitzvah. Because every mitzvah of the Torah carries you into a space beyond all things, a space where there is no otherness, only the One.

Every mitzvahEvery mitzvah is an embrace, a kiss, and a union of spirits. is an embrace, a kiss, and a union of spirits.

An embrace, because as an embrace grasps you from all sides, so the mitzvahs of Torah embrace every facet of your being. Not your heart alone, not your mind alone, but your every limb, your every sinew, and all the kishkes within you.

Give a few dollars to a homeless veteran so he can spend the night in warm and decent quarters. Your hand gave the dollars. Your entire being worked hard to earn it. You could have bought something else for yourself with that money. So now, all of you is tied up in this mitzvah. Divine light embraces your entire being.

The same occurs when you prepare a royal Shabbat meal. Carpool your kids to a Jewish school. Wrap yourself in a tallit—all of you. Bind the leather straps of tefillin on your arm and head. Munch your matzah on Passover. Feel the hunger of Yom Kippur. Immerse in the joy of learning Torah.

Each is a caress and a hug, each grasping another part of you, until every limb of your body and every facet of your life is held tightly in His embrace, pulling you close in oneness from head to toe, enveloping all your being.

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

Divine Kiss, Mystic Union

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine.” So begins King Solomon’s Song of Songs, a parable of the love between us and our G‑d.

What is a kiss?… as two minds think as one, experience as one, desire as one, in that intimate union of a kiss. It is when love can no longer be expressed in words of love—because there are no words for such love. It is when lips no longer speak as one speaks to another—because there is no other. And so two lips become one.

“When you read and speak words of Torah,” the Midrash tells, “G‑d reads and speaks every word along with you.”1 So that every word of Torah is a kiss. Our lips and His in union.

They are His words, the words He speaks to Himself, the words that speak of what he desires from heaven and earth, of His deepest desire.

They are the words of halacha—of what we are meant to do, of how His desire is to be expressed in this world.

Yet they are our words, the words given to us, in our mouths to expand, explain and apply. And they remain His words. Because in them we and Him are one in soul and spirit, as two minds think as one, experience as one, desire as one, in that intimate union of a kiss.

And there is a union of souls.

In the discovery of the wisdom of His Torah as your mind becomes absorbed in a divine way of thinking, and in the heartfelt focus of that prayer, in the tears that drip down your cheek as you return to Him, in the joy of a mitzvah that bursts out in spontaneous song, there your soul calls to the Soul of All Life, and the two are drawn together to merge as one in perfect union.

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

We Are His, He Is Ours

That is why a Jew doesn’t just do a mitzvah. A Jew says, “Blessed are You, G‑d, our G‑d, Majesty of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His mitzvot…”

Just as aAt Mount Sinai, we became His, and He became ours. man says to his beloved beneath the chuppah, “Behold, you are sanctified to me with this ring…”

Rabbi Schneur Zalman walked out from his study and heard his wife teaching other women. He heard two words. She said, “Mine says…”—referring to him, her husband, who became hers through marriage.

He leaned against the doorpost in a deep trance, uttering, “With one mitzvah, I became hers. With how many mitzvahs, have I become His!”

At Mount Sinai, we became His, and He became ours.

Tanya, Chapters 45 and 46. See also Likutei Torah, Shir HaShirim 1d.