This letter was written to R. Yitzchak Avigdor Orenstein, one of the Chabad chassidim in Jerusalem.

[20 Tammuz, 5706]1

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your notification concerning the wedding of your son — may it be in a good and auspicious hour — I am sending my blessings of Mazal tov, Mazal tov. May [the couple] build a house in Israel on the foundations of the Torah and its mitzvos.

Behold, the descent of the soul to this world resembles a wedding feast.2 Therein two [purposes are achieved]:

a) the correction of the body, the vital soul, and one’s portion in the world (as stated in Tanya, ch. 37);

b) an ascent for the soul itself which is achieved through its descent into the body.

When a man reaches the stage in his Divine service that involves refining his portion of the world3 — as our Sages (Yevamos 63a) state: “A man brings kernels of wheat. Can he chew wheat?” — he needs “a helper corresponding to him,”4 a woman.

This also relates the universal order [of personal development] stated in the Mishnah (the conclusion of Avos, ch. 5): “At five, [one proceeds to the study of] Scripture,... to the Mishnah,...to the Talmud.” Only afterwards, “at eighteen, to marriage.” For in this manner, when he reaches “at twenty, to pursue [his livelihood],” [involving] the correction of the material world (which is “a great disturbance,” to refer to the wording of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch as will be cited), he will have already fulfilled the charge:5 “Perfect yourself.” He will have reached ultimate perfection, as reflected in the maamar entitled Ben Esrim Limkor in Likkutei Torah. Forhe will have completed the study of the Talmud which lasts five years as stated at the beginning of ch. 3 in the Alter Rebbe’s Hilchos Talmud Torah.

— The mention of “two or three years” [between marriage and going out to earn a livelihood] is to satisfy the two interpretations of the clause “At eighteen, to marry”: one (Tosafos, s.v. bar, Kesuvos 50a), that it refers to a person who completed his eighteenth year and the other (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Ishus 15:2; see also Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 1:3, and commentaries), that it refers to the beginning of the eighteenth year. —

With regard to an even earlier age, our Sages state: “At thirteen, to [the observance of] mitzvos.” [Although that also relates to the motif of refinement,] it refers to the beginning stages of this task, that which relates to one’s body and vital soul alone, but not what relates to one’s portion of the world. For [we follow the pattern]: “Little by little, I will drive it out.”6

Nevertheless, since [the perfection of oneself] is not the fundamental purpose of the mitzvos, [marriage at a later age] is not considered fulfilling the mitzvah in the choicest manner. This clarifies the wording of the Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.:“One who marries earlier, at thirteen, fulfills the mitzvah in the choicest manner.” According to Rashi’s commentary,7 this applies even a year earlier, when he is a developed youth approaching adulthood and his vows are valid according to Scriptural Law.

Through this Divine service, the soul is elevated. Indeed, that elevation is incomparable, [an ascent] from [the framework of reference referred to as] memale kol almin to [that referred to as] sovev kol almin. Theprelude and the preparation for this is conveyed to us by Yeshayahu — for as is well known, a lesson in our Divine service can be derived from everything related in the Tanach and by our Sages. [ Yeshayahu] describes the Divine Chariot, stating:8 “I saw G‑d... and the Seraphim were standing above Him.” The Alter Rebbe explains ( Likkutei Torah, the maamar entitled ViNikdashti, sec. V) that [the Seraphim are described as being “above” G‑d Himself, as it were,] because their fundamental desire is to grasp the dimension [of G‑d] that transcends all worlds (sovev kol almin). Hence they stand “above Him,” [i.e., above the dimension of G‑dliness that has been contracted] to serve as “the L‑rd over all worlds,” [i.e.,] the source for the Divine life-energy which permeates the worlds (memale kol almin). For [since their desire is focused] on these higher realms, it is as if they are standing there.

The yearning and the Divine service should be motivated neither by love alone, nor by fear alone. Instead, there should be a synergy and interrelation of all the emotional qualities together, producing a team of three or four ([interrelated spiritual qualities, as explained in] Torah Or, Parshas Toldos, the maamar entitled Mayim Rabbim, sec. 3). Through this Divine service [which can be performed] in this world alone, the Jews actually ascend9 to the level of sovev kol almin, above the Seraphim as our Sages state (Chulin 91b), to the world of Ein Sof.

For this reason, it is this world [i.e., our material world] alone that resembles “a wedding feast.” For through a wedding, the power to give birth is revealed, a power possessed by souls and not by angels. [This potential] resembles the power of Ein Sof (see Likkutei Torah, the conclusion of Biur Shishim Heimah Malachos).

With blessings of Mazal tov and with the blessing “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,”