The vast majority of laws relating to Jewish marriage and divorce are derived from verses in the Torah portion Seitzei.1

The relationship between husbands and wives is similar to the relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people. It thus follows that marriage and divorce as experienced between mortal spouses derives from the “marriage” and the so-called “divorce” between G‑d and the Jewish people.

The marriage of G‑d and the Jewish people took place when He gave them the Torah, as the Mishnah states:2 “ ‘The day of His marriage’ — this refers to Mattan Torah. ”

Although according to Jewish law betrothal requires an act by the groom, i.e., the groom gives the bride an object of value and states: “You are consecrated to me…,” this act must have the full consent of the bride; a woman cannot be married against her will.3

The same was true with regard to G‑d’s betrothal and marriage of the Jewish people when He gave them the Torah: G‑d revealed His great love to the Jewish people in order to rouse their love for Him,4 so that the Jewish people would desire to be “married” to Him. Although this love for G‑d resulted from G‑d’s arousal of the emotion within them, and did not come about of the Jews’ own volition, it had so profound an effect on them that their love for Him became part and parcel of their very being.

Thus the Rambam states as a point of law5 that every Jew, even one who is on an extremely low spiritual level, “desires to perform all the mitzvos and distance himself from transgressions.” It is simply that this desire is sometimes concealed and must be brought to the fore.

Just as the Jewish people’s love for G‑d permeates their being, and is always whole and absolute, so too with regard to His love for them: it permeates His entire essence, as it were, and something that is part of one’s essence is not subject to change.

This blissful state of marriage between G‑d and the Jewish people existed until the period of exile, at which time there came about a state of “divorce,” as the Gemara records:6 “The Jewish people responded to the prophet with a telling rejoinder…’A woman who was divorced by her husband — can one party possibly then complain about [the conduct of] the other?’ ”

This means to say that since during times of exile, G‑d is not found in a revealed manner among the Jewish people; it is as if He had divorced them.

In truth, however, G‑d’s love for the Jews is so essential to His being that even when this love is suppressed to the extent that He metaphorically “divorces” them, He is still very much with them; the “divorce” is not really a divorce at all. Truly, it is nothing but a temporary separation, which He will rectify when He once again reveals His essential love for them; remarriage will not be necessary.

Accordingly it is to be understood that the “temporary separation” engendered by exile reveals a depth of the relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people that is even more profound than that revealed prior to the “divorce.”

Before the estrangement, one could have thought that the connection between G‑d and the Jewish people was predicated upon their performance of Torah and mitzvos. When we observe, however, that during periods of exile, when the Jewish people are wanting in their performance of Torah and mitzvos , G‑d loves them all the same, this proves that His love is not based on any external factor, but is truly an intrinsic and essential love.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. IX, pp. 143-150.