Sunday, 7 September 2008

Zohar - Parshat Ki Teitzei - Marriage, and a Year of Freedom

[The Parsha as in Deuteronomy 24:5 speaks about a man marrying. When he takes a wife, he receives certain privileges. One of these is that he is not obligated to go into the army. He must be free so that he can gladden his wife for the period of one year. Not only is this harmonious and beneficial for the couple in the lower physical world, but it also causes great happiness above. The year period is parallel to the entire year period of G-d’s running the world via His ‘chariot’. Our actions below, when fulfilled in accordance with the Torah not only bring goodness to us below, but also awaken goodness and delight above – thereby bringing even more blessing to this world.]

When a man will take a new wife, he shall not go to the army etc. and he shall gladden his wife who he has taken [Deuteronomy 24:5]. This Mitzvah is that the groom should make his wife happy for one year, as it is written – he shall be free for his home for one year. And these twelve months are hers i.e. the ‘lower’ bride merits through them what is hers from her root which is the ‘upper’ bride which is the Shechinah [the Indwelling Divine Presence,] because the upper bride which is the Shechinah is called Shanah’ [lit: Year]. And a bride is only so called for [the first] twelve months, as it is written, “He made the ‘sea’”, [part of the building of the Temple made by King Solomon was a ‘sea’ – a copper tank filled with water and used by the Kohanim for ritual immersion] (Kings 1 – 7:25) “It stood upon twelve oxen,” which are the 12 angels Michael, Gavriel, Uriel, Rafael, and with each one there are another 2 angels. And they serve the Shechinah and lift her up and she rides upon them. And since the repair of the supernal bride is only through these 12 angels, therefore the groom needs to gladden her – the lower bride and to adorn her house so that she should rejoice in it. And it explains, to her and to her repairs, to make her happy and her ‘repairs’ which are her garments and her jewellery that she rejoices through them. Similar to [what happens in the worlds] above, because these 12 angels serve the Shechinah for 12 months of the year. And therefore it is written about Jacob, (Genesis 28:11) “And he took from the stones of the place.” And it explains, the stones of the place were 12, parallel to the 12 angels of the Shechinah which is called Makom – “place.” And someone who gladdens the supernal bride, also gladdens her youths, which are these 12 angels. [Daf 278a]: And she had 12 youths, and all of them are the secret of the year, since these 12 angels serve during the 12 months of the year. And therefore the groom needs to gladden his wife for one year. The word “one” is added here to teach that the year from day to day should be 354 days [354 being the numerical value of the Hebrew word for year i.e. “שנה” – While the Solar year consists of 365 days, the Lunar year consists of 354 days, the exact same amount as the numerical value of the word “שנה”] – 12 complete months for the reason above.

And behold we explained, this happiness is not his – the groom’s – but rather it is hers – the bride’s. As it is written ‘He shall gladden his wife.’ And the word “ושמח” [and he shall gladden] is a causative verb i.e. that he should gladden her [so that she should rejoice.] And since it is not written “וישמח” – and he shall be happy – since the word “וישמח” is a dynamic verb i.e. he rejoices with her and then she is considered secondary to him. But rather ‘And he shall gladden’ is explained as the groom gladdens the bride.

Similar to this is the bride ‘above’ which is Malchutthe bride has no happiness except when Z”A, her husband gladdens her body in the secret of Yichud [unification], and her ‘repairs’ in the secret of the garments and jewellery. And who gladdens them – Malchut and her youths? Tzaddik which is Yesod, that through him, her body and face are repaired. And upon this it says, he shall be free for his home i.e. the Yesod is called “Naki” [he shall be free/clean] as it is written [Exodus 23:7] ‘Naki and Tzaddik, do not kill.’ And he bestows upon her clean seed which is sorted from all dross.

And in contrast to this below, the groom will be Naki [clean/free] not to have to toil in worldly matters i.e. with something that will take him away from gladding her, but rather he will occupy himself in Torah in order that he will have the desire to gladden her, and he will be free of every pressure i.e. he will be free – exempt – from all types of taxes, property taxes and head-taxes, free – that he won’t have to go out to the army to fight a war in order to find happiness above and below, and to awaken happiness above i.e. through the happiness of the bride below he will intend to cause happiness to the bride above. Happy are those in this world, and happy are those in the world to come. (Ramak, Ramaz and commentaries.)

From here is the source of the custom of Israel to give food to a newly married couple for at least one year. This, in order that it will not make it necessary [for the groom] to be busy with worldy affairs, and the husband will be free to study Torah.


Bold print: Original Zohar

Ordinary text: Matok Midvash

[Square brackets]: ELIYAHU ben PINCHAS

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

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