Many claim to intuitively know what is right in life. They
reject the notion that one must transcend a subjective self
to achieve harmony between body and soul. They argue that
the body and the soul are complementary parts of an integral
self, requiring no external laws and rituals to govern their
relationship and define a particular path through life.
In essence, of course, they are right. The soul of man is
literally a part of G-d above
and his body is an expression of the divine quintessence.
So the marriage of matter and spirit that is man is not a
superimposed coalition of strangers, but the fusion of kindred
beings andon the deepest levelthe reunion of the
parted parts of a cloven singularity.
In practice, however, this intrinsic harmony is notoriously
difficult to achieve. When a person looks only to himself
and his instincts to guide him through life, the result is
a marriage characterized by dissension and conflict, a life
plagued by a perpetual dissonance between body and soul.
The Outlawed Method
Like everything else in creation, this phenomenon has a model
in Torah law.
So if human life is the marriage of an active (male)
spirit and its receptive (female) vessel, the
clue to their relationship lies in the laws that legislate
the inter-personal marriage between man and woman.
How do a man and woman become husband and wife according
to Torah law? The Talmud
derives from Scripture three methods by which the consecration
(kiddushin) of their union can be effected. The first
is kessef (lit. silver or money),
by which the man gives the woman an object of value and says
to her: You are hereby consecrated to me with this [....];
by accepting the gift and his words, she becomes his wife.
(This is the method commonly employed today, with a ring serving
as the kessef that effects the marriage.) A second
method is the shetar, or writ of marriage: the husband gives the wife a document
in which he (or his appointed agent) has written, You
are hereby consecrated to me with this writ. The third
method of kiddushin is biah, or actual
consummation of the marriage: if a man and woman live together
as husband and wife, and do so with the express intention
of marrying each other, the act of biah sanctifies
their union as a marriage.
The Talmud adds that while all three methods achieve kiddushin,
only the first two may be used. The method of marriage by
biah might have been legitimate in earlier, purer
times, but with the moral regression of later generations
came the danger of its misuse and profanation. Thus, the Talmudic
sage Rav outlawed marriage by biah, decreeing
severe penalties for those who do so.
Man and woman, who originated as a single being with
two faces, remain intrinsically one, even after their division into two
genders. In essence, they require nothing extrinsic to themselves
to effect their marriage; they need only to delve into their
deepest selves for their act of union to render them one
flesh. But this is an ideal, realizable only in an ideal
world. In a world in which a veneer of corporeality adheres
to all things physical, the union of man and woman is too
plastic and too vulnerable to corruption to define itself.
It must therefore be sanctified by a formalized commitment,
buttressed by the external scaffolding of kessef or
Marriage in the Future
The same applies to the internal marriage of body and soul.
While the key to their integration lies in their deepest self,
this is a self inaccessible by a life adrift in a corporeal
world. So mans attempts at self-definition, self-guidance
and self-regulation in his body/soul relationship are doomed
to failure and corruption. To consecrate their marriage, one
requires the kessef (yearning) of prayer, the souls self-transcendence
in its striving toward G-d; one requires the shetar
of Torah, the writ of marriage that documents
the union and legislates its laws.
There will come a time, however, when no longer shall
a man teach his fellow... for all shall know Me, from the
smallest to the greatest.
A time when we will no longer require instruction and guidance
from without, for the illumination will come from within,
from the spark of G-dliness at our core. A time when the material
world we inhabit will no longer distort our intrinsic perfection
but facilitate it and bring it to light.
A time when the body and soul will autonomously achieve their
deepest uniona union deeper than anything the most profound
law book and the most transcendent prayer can generate.
Based on an entry in the Rebbes journal dated Lag
BOmer, 5702 (1942)
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber
. Job 31:2, as per Tanya, ch. 2; cf. Psalms 16:5 and 73:26; Jeremiah
. Tanya, part IV, end of section 20; Torat Shalom, p. 120.
. An architect who builds a palace does not do so on his
own. He has scrolls and notebooks which he consults as to
how to place the rooms, where to set the doors. So it was
with G-d: He looked into the Torah and created the world
(Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 1:2).
. Talmud, Kiddushin 2a, 3b, 4b and 5a.
. To be differentiated from the ketubah (marriage contract)
which outlines the husbands obligations toward his
wife, her share in his estate should he predecease her,
and the alimony due her should he divorce her.
. Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 8:1, based on Genesis 1:27.
. Kessef also means yearning (cf. Genesis 31:30;
Tanya, ch. 50).
. Cf. Midrash Tehillim 73: In the future
era of Moshiach, if a person would go to pick a fig on Shabbat,
it would cry out: Do not pick me! Today is Shabbat!