Spiritual Elevation of Physical Reality

26 07 2010

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Hershel Reichman on the Chassidic Perspective of Marriage

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Judaism views marriage as one of the core aspects of Torah living. In fact, the first incident in the Torah involving people was the story of the marriage of Adam and Chava. In addition, the first commandment in the Torah is “Peru U’revu”-Be fruitful and multiply.  The highlight of the marriage ceremony , that which captures much of what marriage is, are the Sheva Brachot-Seven Blessings, which are recited under the wedding canopy. The first blessing is “Shehakol bara l’kovdo”-Who has created everything for His honor. How does this blessing fit with the concept of marriage and why was it placed first?

Torah connects us to our spiritual selves and to Hashem, who is completely spiritual. How do we understand the dichotomy between our baser instincts and spirituality? How can one who is pursuing the physical pleasures of this world simultaneously develop his spiritual self? In essence, we can ask this very question of marriage. How can marriage which seems so physically oriented be considered one of the greatest mitzvoth?

The Shem MiShmuel explains that this is precisely the message of the first blessing under the chuppah, “Shehakol bara lekovdo.” Hashem created everything in this world for his honor and it is our task to recognize this. Hashem’s plan was for us to elevate the sparks of spirituality embedded within nature.  It is a challenge to discover spirituality within such mundane acts as eating or drinking. However that is the purpose that Hashem placed us on this earth.

Marriage is the embodiment of this concept. Its purpose is to bring honor to Hashem by intertwining the physical and spiritual and forming a vessel to elevate the divine sparks. Marriage is also the first primary experience where this melding of polar forces comes to the fore. It cannot be entirely physical as all physical matter naturally disintegrates over time. A Jewish couple recognizes the divine connection inherent in their union. They seek to increase Hashem’s honor and see their marriage as an opportunity to develop divine sparks of holiness. A Jewish marriage includes three partners, man, woman, and Hashem. Together they set out to build an eternal edifice to increase the honor of Hashem in this world.

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