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What Is the Importance of the Groom, that His Iniquities Are Forgiven?

Article No. 07, Tav-Shin-Mem-Het, 1987-88

Our sages said, “Three are forgiven their iniquities: A gentile who converted, one who becomes great, and one who marries a woman. From this we learn that this is why she is called Mahalat, since his iniquities Nimhalu [have been forgiven]. Conversely, in the portion VaYishlach, she is called Bosmat, daughter of Ishmael” (presented in RASHI, VaYishlach).

This verse requires explanation. Our sages tell us that forgiving the iniquities of the groom on his wedding day comes from Esau, who took the daughter of Ishmael, whose name was Bosmat, daughter of Ishmael. Since it is written in the portion Toldot, “Esau went to Ishmael, and took Mahalat the daughter of Ishmael,” it is an evidence that on his wedding day, the groom is forgiven his iniquities.

It follows that we learn this entire basis from wicked Esau, who took the daughter of wicked Ishmael. This is difficult to understand. After all, what is a wicked one? It is one who says that there are no sins in the world and he can do what his heart desires because a wicked one believes in nothing. Thus, the wicked one says that he never sins. Therefore, why does he need his iniquities forgiven? Is a person given that which he does not want? After all, there is no light without a Kli [vessel], no filling without a lack.

It is even more difficult to understand what is the real reason that he deserves absolution. What is his privilege? Is it because he took a wife that he deserves his iniquities forgiven? It makes sense that one who does a great deed, which we cannot appreciate the importance of the matter, then we understand that he deserves a great reward for this, to the point of absolving his iniquities. But what great thing did he do by taking a wife?

Also, we see that saying a litany is a great thing. There is the matter of thirteen qualities there, as well as kneeling. But if there is a groom in the synagogue, we do not say the litany. We should understand the importance of taking a wife, that all seven days of the “seven blessings,” it has the power to cancel a prayer, which is so important, because he took a woman, who is now called “a bride.”

There are many explanations in the literal, but we should interpret this in the work. What does it come to teach us? The wicked Esau is when a person has realized that the bad thing in the world, which prevents all created beings from achieving the delight and pleasure for which the world was created—which is the meaning of bad—has become in him as Esau, from the word Assiya [doing]. His evil has been completed with clear knowledge that it is the will to receive for himself. At that time comes the order of “turn away from evil,” meaning that before a person knows that the will to receive is called “bad,” it is impossible to turn away from it and not listen to it.

Afterward begins the matter of “and do good.” “Do good” means assuming the burden of the kingdom of heaven. However, a person cannot be rewarded with the quality of “a woman who fears God.” Rather, a person must receive this from above, as it is written, “He who comes to purify is aided.” The Zohar says that he is given a soul, and this is the assistance that the person receives.

It follows that this soul was born by the Creator hearing him when he came to purify. This soul is called a “daughter,” which was born out of the Creator hearing his prayer once a person has come to the recognition of evil, called Esau.

This is the meaning of what is written, “And Esau went and took Mahalat the daughter of Ishmael.” “Went” means to a higher degree, once he has come to the recognition of evil, called Esau, to Yishma-El [Ishmael, meaning “the Lord will hear”]. That is, at that time he engaged in the form of “do good,” praying to the Creator to hear his prayer and give him a soul, as it is said in The Zohar. This is the meaning of “He took Mahalat,” meaning he took the absolution of iniquities by which he was rewarded with a daughter from which the Creator heard his prayer. This is called “the daughter of Yishma-El.”

This follows a certain procession: 1) Exertion to see the truth, as much as he understands that the will to receive for himself is harming him. At that time he can determine once and for all not to use it, and this is called Esau. 2) Afterward, he is rewarded with taking a woman by forgiving the iniquities. At that time it is possible to be rewarded with it.

We can understand the meaning of a woman, which is the soul he is given from above, according to what is explained in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” (Items 53-55): “Then the Creator helps him and one attains open Providence, meaning the revelation of the face. Then, he is rewarded with complete repentance, meaning he cleaves to the Creator once more with his heart, soul, and might, as though naturally drawn by the attainment of the open Providence. Naturally, one who is imparted this open Providence is certain that he will not sin again, as one is certain that he will not cut in his own flesh and cause himself terrible suffering. In addition, one is certain that he will not neglect a Mitzva [commandment/good deed] without performing it the instant it comes to his hand, as much as one is certain that he will not neglect any worldly pleasure or a great profit that comes into his hand.” This repentance is regarded as his iniquities being forgiven.

According to the rule that all the Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds] extend from branch and root—meaning that each Mitzva in corporeality has its root in spirituality—we can say that what extends from this is that in corporeality, too, when a man takes a woman, his iniquities are forgiven, which implies to spirituality.

Now we can interpret what our sages said, “How to dance before the bride?” and did not say, “How to dance before the groom?” Conversely, concerning the wedding meal, they said, “One who enjoys a groom’s meal and does not delight him (Berachot, p 6) transgresses in five voices: the voice of merriment and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ‘Thank!’” They did not say that we must delight the bride, and they did not say that there is a bride’s meal, but only a groom’s meal.

We find that on Jacob’s wedding, Laban made the meal, as it is written, “And Laban assembled all the men of the place and made a feast,” meaning that the meal came from the side of the bride, that the bride’s father made the meal and not Jacob, who was the groom.

According to what Baal HaSulam explained—that “groom” means Torah, and “bride” means faith—we should interpret what we asked. Until a person acquires permanent faith, he has ascents and descents, since a person is born with a vessel of reception, and that vessel wants to engage in things that the mind says are worthwhile to engage in, meaning they will benefit the will to receive for himself. Otherwise, he cannot work.

Also, since faith is above reason, meaning that the reason cannot stand them, there is a matter of ups and downs here. This is called a “dance,” since we see that when dancing, we lift our legs and bring them back down repeatedly. This implies that since Raglaim [legs] comes from the word Meraglim [spying], meaning that when one should take upon himself the burden of the kingdom of heaven and serve Him only Lishma [for Her sake], the person’s intellect immediately comes and makes him see that he should not be rash, but first see if it is worthwhile to serve the Creator not in order to receive reward.

Therefore, when lifting the legs, meaning when we go above our reason and intellect, it is regarded as lifting our legs above the earth. However, a person cannot always overcome and go above reason, and this is considered placing one’s feet on the ground once more. This is the meaning of what he says, “How to dance before the bride?” (Ketubot 16b). “Before the bride” means during the ascent, called Panim [face/anterior]. What should he say about the bride? What is the merit that he has found in faith, meaning what did he see in it that we should say that this is why he took upon himself the burden of faith?

Beit Shammai [House of Shammai] say, “A bride, the way she is,” meaning that according to how he feels her importance, so he takes upon himself the faith. That is, he does not need to find any merit in her. Even if he feels no importance about her, he takes upon himself what we were told to believe, and this is all of our merit—if we can take upon ourselves this work, which we believe is the Creator’s will, and we need not look for any merits, but simply believe and take upon ourselves by coercion, “as an ox to the burden and as a donkey to the load.”

Beit Hillel [House of Hillel] say, “A bride, fair and pious.” We should interpret that this means that a person should say about what he sees, “They have eyes and do not see.” And considering what he hears, he should say, “They have ears and do not hear.” That is, seeing is not necessarily with the eyes, but there is seeing in the mind. That is, the mind shows him depictions that contradict faith, and he often hears what the mind makes him see—that work for the sake of the Creator is not for him. He should overcome all this and say, “They have eyes and do not see.” That is, what the mind tells him and makes him see is not the truth. This is called “They have eyes and do not see” the truth; “they have ears and do not hear” the truth. Therefore, their thoughts, meaning what the will to receive for himself tells him, is not the truth. Rather, he should tell himself that indeed, she is a fair and pious bride, except he is unfit to see the truth right now.

Yet, the truth is that all the delight and pleasure that the will to receive can receive in his Kelim[vessels] is but a slim light compared to the light that dresses in the vessels of bestowal. This is called “a fair bride.” Yet, a person cannot always overcome his mind and reason. This is why there is the matter of dances in faith, of which our sages said, “How to dance before the bride.” That is, what can we say to the Panim [face/anterior] of the bride, since Panim pertains to “a man’s wisdom illuminates his face.” Thus, he should say what is the praise that there is in the bride, called “faith.” This is the difference between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, whether to say, “a bride, the way she is” or “a bride, fair and pious.”

This is not so with the groom. The Creator is called “Torah,” and Torah is considered a gift. There, there is no dancing because when a person receives a gift, it cannot be said that he has a descent, meaning that he does not want to receive gifts. Only where there is labor and a person must overcome against the reason, it can be said that at times he can overcome and at times he cannot. Conversely, when receiving gifts, how can it be said that he has no need for gifts? This is why they did not say, “How to dance before the groom?” but “How to dance before the bride?”

Conversely, considering a meal, it is written, “One who enjoys a groom’s meal,” and it is not written, “One who enjoys a bride’s meal.” The reason is that a groom is regarded as the Torah, and the Torah is a gift, as our sages said, “From Matanah [gift] to Nahaliel” (Iruvin 54), where it writes, “Why is it written, ‘And from the desert to Matanah, and from Matanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamot, and from Bamot to the valley’? He said to him, ‘If a man makes himself like this desert, which everyone treads, the Torah was given to him as a gift. And since it was given to him as a gift, he inherits God, as was said, ‘From Matanah to Nahaliel [rivers of God].’”

It is known that the Creator has many names, according to what He reveals to the lower ones. That is, it depends on the extent to which He bestows upon the lower ones. That is, according to the merit of the lower ones, He bestows abundance upon them. And since there are many discernments in the receivers, as it is written, “As their faces are not similar to one another, their views are not similar to one another,” and as we learn in the work, that a person himself also undergoes changing states, therefore, the abundance of the Creator changes into many discernments, but the Creator has no name, since “there is no thought or perception in Him whatsoever.” Rather, it is as it is written, “By Your actions we know You.” That is, according to the abundance He bestows, so we name Him.

For this reason, with regard to the Torah, the Creator is called “groom.” When He bestows faith, He is called “bride.” With respect to the purpose of creation, which is His will to do good to His creations, for the whole world to enjoy, meaning enjoy in the way that is called “His desire to do good,” meaning that He sustains the Klipot [shells/peels], as well, or they would not be able to exist in the world. This is as The Zohar says, that they have but a slim light. But in Torah and Mitzvot, the light is clothed there by way of “The whole Torah is the names of the Creator,” whose general name is The Good Who Does Good.

According to the above, the Creator is called “groom” because He is the Giver and bestows upon the lower ones. The creatures’ enjoyment from the joy He gives them, and as was said that what the whole world enjoys comes from Him, all the pleasures are called “meal.” It follows that the whole world is enjoying the King’s meal.

However, there is a difference from the perspective of the lower ones. There are lower ones who believe that this is a meal that comes from the King. And there are secular people, who do not believe that the meal comes from the Creator, who is called “the King.” With regard to his being the Giver, He is called “a groom.” This is as our sages said, “One who enjoys a groom’s meal and does not delight him transgresses in five voices.” That is, although they believe that the meal is a groom’s meal and thank him for their pleasure, there is still a higher level, meaning that by enjoying, they should delight the King.

According to the above, that the Creator is called “groom,” how can we speak of delighting the Creator? It is known that joy comes as a result of something. When a person obtains something new that he yearned for and received, it engenders joy in a person. But what can we say that the Creator is missing, that if He received it, He would be happy?

The Zohar says ( VaYera, Item 399), “There was no joy before the Creator since the day the world was created like the joy He is destined to have with the righteous in the future.” We should also understand this verse. How can it be said that the Creator receives delight. As we learn, the purpose of creation is to do good to His creations. It follows that when the lower ones receive the delight and pleasure that He has prepared for them, He derives pleasure from this, as it is known from the allegory about the king who has a tower filled with abundance but no guests.

Therefore, we attribute the meal to the Creator as a groom, that He is regarded as the Torah, a gift, Nahaliel [rivers of God]. When the creatures receive the delight and pleasure, called “meal,” they must receive everything in order to bestow and not because of self-reception. This is the meaning of what our sages said, “One who enjoys a groom’s meal and does not delight him,” but receives for his own sake, “transgresses in five voices.” The five voices imply the completeness of the degree that must be revealed to the creatures. That is, His will to do good to His creations is revealed in five discernments, called “five parts of the soul,” which are NefeshRuachNeshamaHaya, and Yechida.

This is why our sages said, “One who enjoys a groom’s meal and does not delight him,” meaning his intention in enjoying the meal is not to please the Creator, in that the purpose of creation is achieved in its complete correction, but rather his own benefit, then he causes five voices, meaning the NRNHYthat should be revealed, to move away from him, since there was a Tzimtzum [restriction] on the vessels of reception for himself. Thus, the light does not extend to that place, and that place requires correction in order to bestow. Yet, he does not regard it, and therefore causes the abundance not to reach the lower ones.

It therefore follows that our sages warn us that we must prepare ourselves with much work and labor to 1) Believe that any pleasure we receive in the world is regarded as the King’s meal. However, we must believe this. And because of it, our sages have set up a specific blessing for each and every pleasure: a blessing for the prayer, a blessing for the Torah, and also for corporeal pleasures. 2) We must try to receive any pleasure that we receive from the King’s meal in order to bestow, and not for our own sake.

Conversely, when the Creator bestows upon the lower ones as a “bride,” which is faith, it is still not regarded as a meal, but rather there are ups and down there. This is why there are dances there.

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