Every detail in our human world has a parallel on a spiritual plane. The key relationship among human beings is the joining of man and woman in marriage. With Divine help, marriage leads to the birth of children, boys and girls.

In various sections of the Bible the image of marriage is used to describe the relationship of the Jewish people with G‑d. Most famous among these is King Solomon's Song of Songs. The beautiful woman in the Song of Songs is the Jewish people, who has a complex relationship with G‑d: sometimes far away from Him, sometimes drawing close. The Prophet Isaiah also uses similar imagery.1

Our parshah opens with a passage about a woman giving birth to a child: "When a woman gives seed and bears a son."2 This passage is usually explained in straightforward literal terms. If it is a boy, the child must be circumcised, and whether a boy or a girl, the mother brings an offering to the Temple, usually two doves. She brings the offering after forty days if the child is a boy, and after eighty days if it is a baby girl. These doves were the most popular offerings brought to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe quotes the great Moroccan Sage Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (author of the Ohr HaChayim commentary on Torah, 1696-1743) who suggests another way of reading this text. As in the Song of Songs or Isaiah, the woman represents the Jewish people. Through a fulfilled relationship between the Jewish people and G‑d, a child is born.

Rabbi Chaim explains that the birth symbolizes Redemption. The sense of wholeness and completion a human couple feels when having a child reflects the higher spiritual reality a free and independent Jewish people experiences when finally able to serve G‑d in a complete way.

Our history provides a number of examples of Redemption. Some 3,300 years ago there was the redemption from Egypt. While we lived in the Land of Israel we often suffered attack and persecution by our neighbors, and G‑d would deliver us. We had a miraculous deliverance from a threat of massacre at the time of Purim. We were redeemed from Babylon and came back to the Land of Israel, and built the second Temple. A few centuries later we were redeemed from Syrian-Greek oppression at the time of Chanuka, and so on.

The problem with each of these moments of Redemption was that they were followed by a further phase of Exile. Our hope and faith is in the ultimate Redemption, which will be permanent and total. This will end all strife, for us, the Jewish people, and also globally. Rabbi Chaim explains that this permanent redemption is symbolized by the birth of boy described at the beginning of the Parshah. The male is physically stronger and this strength denotes the permanence of the redemption.

How is this redemption achieved? When the woman, the Jewish people, "gives seed." Seed is planted in the ground, and this planting represents our service of G‑d in our practical, physical world. Indeed there are beautiful ideas, feelings and states of consciousness to which we should aspire, but the real basis of everything is the practical reality of keeping the commandments of the Torah in our physical, daily lives, such as eating kosher food, giving charity, observing Shabbat.

These practical realities create the tangible bond with G‑d which leads to birth, and as a result of birth, the beautiful experience of bringing offerings to the Temple and, for all humanity, the fulfillment of the purpose of Creation.3