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What Is “He Who Enjoys at a Groom’s Meal,” in the Work?

Article No. 35, Tav-Shin-Nun, 1989-90

Our sages said (Berachot 72), “He who enjoys at a groom’s meal and does not delight him transgresses in five voices. And if he delights him, what is his reward? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said, ‘He is rewarded with the Torah, which was given in five voices.’”

We should understand what it means that if he enjoys at a groom’s meal he must delight him. If he does not enjoy at a groom’s meal, should he not delight him? Also, what does it mean that he must delight him? Is the groom sad that he became a groom, that he should try to delight him? We should also understand with what can we delight the groom, so that by delighting him, we will be rewarded with the Torah.

It makes sense that if a person is told to perform some commandment, he is promised the next world as a reward. But here they said that his reward will be the Torah. Is this a reward that obligates one to delight the groom? How should we understand all this in the work?

Also, we must understand why it is not required to delight the bride, but only the groom. Concerning the bride, we find another requirement. Concerning the bride, it was said (Ketubot 16b), “How does one dance before the bride? The House of Shammai say, ‘the bride as she is.’ The House of Hillel say, ‘a fair and graceful bride.’ The House of Shammai said to the House of Hillel, ‘What if she is lame or blind, is she told, ‘a fair and graceful bride’? But the Torah said, ‘Stay far from false words.’ The House of Hillel said to the House of Shammai, ‘According to you, one who makes a bad bargain in the market, should one praise it before him or criticize it before him? That is, he should praise it before him. Consequently, the sages said, ‘One’s view should always be mingled with people.’’’”

We should understand why concerning the bride, we are speaking only of dancing, and it was not said that the bride should be made happy only during the dance, and what name should be given to the bride, whether as she is, or a handsome name, even if it is not the truth.

Shabbat [Sabbath] is also called “bride,” as it is written, “Go my beloved, toward the bride.” Before Shabbat there are six workdays. During those six days, we must toil in order to prepare everything for Shabbat, and we also eat the Shabbat meal.

Shabbat is called Malchut, “bride” is called Malchut, and the “land of Israel” is also called Malchut. Also, “creation” is generally called Malchut. This means that in general, we should speak of two subjects: 1) Creator, 2) created beings.

The Creator is called the “groom,” and the created beings are called the “bride.” A Hatan [groom] is named after being Nahut Darga [of inferior degree], as our sages said, “Descend in degree and take a wife.” It means that the Creator can be called a “groom” only when He has a bride. It is as in corporeality, when we say that some person is a groom, it means he has a bride. But what does this imply to us in spirituality?

Since it is impossible to speak of a Creator without created beings, one who says that there is a Creator, it is after He has created creatures and they attain Him, that He created them. Then the creatures say that there is a Creator. But if there is no one to attain Him, then there is no one to speak of Him. Therefore, when He created the creatures, it was by restricting Himself several times, after which it was possible for created beings to emerge. They are the receivers, and they are far from Him in terms of oppositeness of form, since His desire is only to bestow, and the creatures want only to receive, and disparity of form in spirituality creates remoteness and separation.

It follows that precisely by lowering Himself so that the creatures would attain Him, it is possible to say that the Creator is called a “groom,” for He lowered Himself so as to be attained.

Those who attain are called “bride,” who knows that there is a “groom,” and if the creatures would not attain Him, He would certainly not be called a “groom,” and those who attain would not be called a “bride.”

When we speak about the worlds in general, we distinguish everything into two discernments: 1) The bestowing light, called a “groom,” which shines into the worlds though Tzimtzum [restriction] and Masach [screen]. This is called a “groom.” 2) The Kli [vessel] that receives the light and abundance, which is called the “general Malchut of the worlds.”

However, in person, there are many discernments in the light, and the proliferation comes because of the Kli that receives them. That is, concerning the light, we say that there are no changes in the light, but all the changes are in the Kli. This is so because the light shines only through restrictions, and to the extent that there is equivalence between the light and the Kli.

For this reason, it depends on the work of the receiver, how much he can correct himself so as to have equivalence with the light. Hence, from the perspective of the receiver, who is called a Kli, we can discern many discernments in the light. For this reason, although we have many details, it is still generally one light and one Kli, as we learn that at the end of correction “the Lord will be one and His name, One.”

Shabbat is called a “bride,” and there are six workdays before her, which is the time of labor, as it is written, “For six days, the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day, He Shavat[rested].” Thus, Shabbat means the completion of the work, and “bride” also means the completion of the work, as it is written, “Moses finished” [in Hebrew, Klot (finished) is similar to Kalah (bride)], that the work was completed.

We should understand the meaning of “labor,” and the meaning of “the completion of the work,” which is called “Shabbat” in the work. The writing says, “Which God has created to do.” As it is explained in the Sulam [Ladder Commentary on The Zohar], the six workdays are the correction of the six qualities called HGT NHY, since the Creator created the world with a desire to receive for oneself. This is called “created,” meaning existence from absence.

Since it is of different form, which causes remoteness and separation, this Kli, which the Creator created, was given for the lower ones to do, meaning to correct, namely to place on the act of reception, the aim to bestow. This is called Dvekut [adhesion], “equivalence of form,” by which creation, called “receiving for himself” and “separation,” was corrected with a correction of Dvekut, where reception acquires the form of bestowal.

When the lower ones give this Kli, the light can reach the lower ones. That is, at that time comes the thought of creation, which is “His desire to do good to His creations,” into practice. This is called “the completion of the work” of the Kli that is fit to receive the abundance that belongs to the Kli.

It follows that the six workdays are regarded as work to do the intention to bestow, and Shabbat means that the Kli that will work in order to bestow has been prepared. Therefore, “the coming of Shabbat” implies that the light has come to a Kli that is ready for the light. Then it is called “Shabbat,” meaning that He already Shavat [rested] from His work of making the Kli, since He already corrected the Kli.

When the light shines in the Kelim [vessels], the Kli has nothing to do but only to enjoy the light, as this is the purpose of creation, “to do good to His creations.” This is the meaning of what our sages said, “When Shabbat comes, rest comes.” This is so because when the light shines in the Kelim, there is no more room for work. Rather, this is called “enjoying the meal of Shabbat.” This is what our sages said, “He who did not toil on the eve of Shabbat (to make Kelim), what will he eat on Shabbat?”

In other words, Shabbat is called “a meal,” which is a time of reception of delight and pleasure. If he has no Kelim that have been prepared on the eve of Shabbat, when the light comes, he hasn’t the Kelim in which to receive the meal. This is why Shabbat is called Kallah [bride/finished], from the words “concluded,” “ending,” “completion.” It is as it is written, “And on the seventh day, God concluded the work that He had done.” This means that the meal is already prepared, since the Kelimfor reception of the meal have already been completed, and it is known that it cannot be said that the light is missing, as it is written, “The whole earth is full of His glory.” Rather, when there are Kelimthat are ready, we see the light, meaning the light is revealed inside the Kelim.

The land of Israel is also called a “bride,” since she has a groom, as it is written, “A land that the eyes of the Lord your God are upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” This is seemingly difficult to understand why specifically the land of Israel is like that. After all, it is written, “The eyes of the Lord roam in everything,” and not specifically in the land of Israel.

We should interpret that the Torah gives us a sign, to those who work for the Creator and want to know if they have already been rewarded with the quality of the “land of Israel.” The sign is that the person feels that “the eyes of the Lord,” meaning His Providence, is in the form of good and doing good. This is regarded as a person being in the land of Israel. At that time, the land of Israel is called “bride,” since she knows she has a groom.

Likewise, in whom is there a groom? That is, who knows that there is a groom? It is the one who attains the groom. This degree is called “bride,” meaning one who has attained Godliness. The light is considered Godliness, and the receiver of the light is the one who attains. For this reason, the “land of Israel” is called a “bride,” meaning that the groom is revealed in her, that the Creator is the Overseer.

In order to attain the land of Israel, called “a land that is regarded as a bride,” it is customary that as in corporeality, we go to look for a bride in whom there are no flaws, as it is written about the spies, who slandered the land of Israel saying that the bride, meaning the land, is not worth taking for many reasons.

Some said that she was proud and had many demands from a person, meaning that one should annul his reason and will before her, and only those who can walk with eyes shut and obey all her demands, with him she can speak. And if he wants to understand what she is saying within reason, she promptly runs away from him.

Therefore, they say, how can one annul his entire being for her? That is, she is so firm-minded that if he disobeys what she tells him once, she will immediately run away from him. In other words, the “land of Israel” is the kingdom of heaven, and one must accept the kingdom above reason, and not wait for the body to agree to assume the burden of the kingdom of heaven. Acceptance of the kingdom of heaven must be so that a person comes to love the Creator “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” and all on the basis of above reason, meaning unconditional surrender, namely that the body, too, does not understand.

The person must go and assume the land with his eyes shut, meaning above reason. If, in the middle of the work, when he is awarded some ascent in spirituality, a person feels a good taste in the work and says, “Now I do not have to believe in faith in the Creator because I already feel a good taste in the work, and I take the taste I feel in the work as a basis,” at that time it is as in the allegory, that the minute he wants to understand faith above reason, “Why should I?” and says, “Now I already have a basis for believing in the Creator,” she immediately runs away from him. In other words, the whole ascent that he is feeling, he immediately descends from his state. This is regarded as Malchut, called the “land of Israel,” runs away from him, and he remains in a state of “abroad.”

This is as our sages said, “The land of the nations, their air is impure.” This means that during a decline, a person descends from the land of Israel and enters the “land of the nations,” whose air is impure, meaning that all the thoughts of the “nations of the world” enter his mind and heart, and the desires of “Israel,” called “desire Yashar-El [straight to the Creator],” depart from him, and instead comes the desire of the “nations of the world,” which are the opposite of Kedusha [holiness].

It turns out that in a state of descent, a person says, “What have I gained from all the efforts I made in order to obtain Kedusha? Now I see that not only did I gain nothing, I am even worse than before I began the work of obtaining the aim for the sake of the Creator.” In other words, he says, “Not only do I not have the aim to bestow, but even in practice, the situation has become harder to observe, meaning in the act without an intention. Conversely, before I wanted to come into the ‘land of Israel,’ I could easily observe Torah and Mitzvot.”

This is as it is written in The Zohar (Shlach, Item 63), “It is written, ‘And they returned from touring the land.’ ‘And they returned’ means that they returned to the side of evil, and returned from the path of truth. They said, ‘What have we gained? To this day, we have not seen good in the world. We have toiled in the Torah but the house is empty. And who will be rewarded with that world? Who will come into it? It would be better if we did not toil so. We toiled and learned in order to know the part of that world, as you advised us, and it is also flowing with milk and honey. That upper world is good, as we know from the Torah, but who can be rewarded with it?’ The faithful ones, what did they say? ‘If the Lord desires us, He will give it to us.’ When a man exerts with the desire in the heart for the Creator, he will be rewarded with it, for all He wants of us is the heart.”

Thus, we see that the “land of Israel” is Malchut, meaning a bride. People are sent to see if the bride is good or if she is proud.

Also, Shabbat is called a “bride,” with respect to the completion of the work. Therefore, before Shabbat there are the six workdays, where the work and toil are in order to adjust to the terms that the bride presents, if we want to accept her. The labor during the six workdays is as it was with the spies: Sometimes they think that the bride is good, and the one who takes her is the happiest man in the world, and it is worth doing anything, meaning accept all the terms that she demands.

But what does she say? Only after a person says that he annuls all his needs, which a person’s body demands, meaning his desires that are for his own sake—he relinquishes them and cares only for the benefit of the “bride,” who is called Malchut, the “bride,” which is the kingdom of heaven, only then, when he cancels his self, as our sages said, “The Torah exists only in one who puts himself to death over it,” this means that all the thoughts and desires pertaining to his own needs, he puts to death and cares only for the sake of the Creator.

Likewise, during the six workdays, a person has ascents and descents. In other words, sometimes a person says that the spies are right in saying that we should escape the campaign, that this is not for us. Sometimes, they overcome and say that Joshua and Caleb, who said, “If the Lord desires us, He will give it to us,” are right.

After we complete the work, when a person agrees to all of the bride’s terms, a person is rewarded with Shabbat being called “Shabbat the Queen.” That is, she gives to the man who annuls himself before her all the delight and pleasure she receives from the groom. These are the demands she presents—that specifically after he accepts all of her terms, she shows what a person gains in his life if he can accept her as a “bride.” And then the “bride” gets a name, which is “the King’s daughter,” and nothing is missing in the King’s house.

Now we can interpret what we asked, Why is it required to delight the groom? The answer is that since from the perspective of branch and root, the “groom” is the Creator and the “bride” is the created beings, who should receive from the Creator, and since the Creator created the world in order to do good to His creations, when the creatures receive delight and pleasure, this is called “the groom’s joy.” It is as our sages said, “There has never been joy before Him as in the day when heaven and earth were created.”

It follows that every person enjoys a groom’s meal, meaning that all the pleasures in the world come from the Creator, which is called “a groom’s meal.” “Not delighting Him” means that he slanders the “bride,” meaning says that the “bride” is not fair and is full of flaws. The “bride” is the created beings, who should receive the delight and pleasure from the Creator. They say that the bride, called Malchut, who contains all the soul, does not give to the created beings delight and pleasure.

It follows that it is as though the Creator does not give her anything. Thus, if a person says that Malchut has nothing to give to the created beings, he is slandering the bride—that she is poor and meager—as well as slanders the Creator because the Creator is not giving her anything so she has what to give to the created beings.

For this reason, any person “who enjoys at a groom’s meal and does not delight him transgresses in five voices.” Concerning “five,” it is known that in spirituality, anything complete is called “five Sefirot,” “five worlds.” This is why he is called Ubar [embryo], meaning Over [passing over] them and does not receive them. “If he delights him,” asks the Gemara, “What is his reward? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi says, ‘He is rewarded with the Torah, which was given in five voices.’”

We should understand why he is not promised to be rewarded with the next world, as is promised in all the places. The answer is that it is because he delights the groom, meaning he believes in the kingdom of heaven, who is the “bride.” He says that she is a fair and good bride, and he believes with faith that she has a groom, and we can already see that He is with the bride.

This is called a “Shabbat meal.” It means that then, on Shabbat, Malchut, which is the collection of the souls, already has what the Creator, who is called the “groom,” wants to give to the souls. This is the meaning of Shabbat being a “similitude of the next world,” for then is the time when we enjoy the groom’s meal.

Now we can understand what we asked, Why does he say that the reward of one who delights the groom is the Torah, and does not say that he is rewarded with the next world, as it is written in many places? The answer is, With what can a person delight the groom in the work, when the groom is the Creator? It is when a person says that the bride is beautiful and flawless.

From this, the groom enjoys, meaning that the bride is called Malchut from the perspective of faith above reason. He says that Malchut, who leads the world with her governance, leads in the form of good and doing good. This is as it is written (Song of Songs, 4), “You are all beautiful, my wife; there is not a flaw in you.” At that time, a person is rewarded with the Torah, which is called “the king’s meal,” which is the Torah, with respect to the names of the Creator. This Torah does not appear before a person is rewarded with “faith,” called “kingdom of heaven.”

However, before one is rewarded with faith, called Malchut, a “bride,” there are ascents and descents there. This is called a “dance.” There is where all the work to be rewarded with taking upon himself the kingdom of heaven is found, so he will not do anything that concerns his own benefit, but all his actions will be for the sake of the Creator.

Our sages said about this, “How does one dance before the bride?” meaning in order to be rewarded with the quality of “bride.”

In this there is a dispute between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. The House of Shammai say “A bride as she is.” That is, however a person feels, whether he feels good or bad. About everything, he should believe above reason that all his sensations are for his sake. This is very difficult.

But the House of Hillel says that a person should say that what he feels in the state he is in, that he does not feel good, he should believe that it is good, but he cannot see the good because he is still unworthy of seeing. Therefore, what he feels is untrue because “They have eyes and see not.”

But everyone says that a person should go above reason and delight the groom. Therefore, there are two kinds of work: 1) during the six workdays, which is the time of work, and 2) during Shabbat, which is the time of the meal (see Article No. 12, Tav-Shin-Mem-Tet).

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