Sunday, February 25, 2007

Engagement Parties and the Redemption

Going to an engagement party makes you think a lot. Having 6 people closely related to you get married this coming summer makes you think even more. That’s right, 6 people! 2 of my best friends and 4 first cousins. I went to the l’chaim of one of my best friends tonight, and I told one of my friends there to think about something Harav Mordechai Elon Shli"ta once told us.

"חתן בחילופי אותיות זה נתח"
HaTaN (a groom), in a technique of interpretation where you switch the letters around to make a new word, is like NiTuaH (surgery).
Pretty scary no? That's not the type of thing you judaism usually teaches: "Going to get married is like getting surgery". What happened to all the nice things we heard about establishing a family?
So of course, getting married is not like going to get a surgery, but in this quote lies a very deep thought that I think we all need to meditate on: those of us who are single, engaged, recently married and married for longer then we can remember. In this sentence Rav Elon was telling us a very deep secret.

The GRA is known to have said that when we want to understand a word, we need to look at the first time it appears in the Torah.
Rav Leon Ashkenazi Zats"al used to push this concept even further: not only when we look at the definition of a word, but even when we are trying to grab a concept, we should try to understand it through the first time it happened in the Torah. When was the first time we saw a surgery in the Torah?
In the first perek of Bereshit(pas. 27), the Torah states:
"And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and
female He created them."
There is an obvious discrepancy in this passouk since it starts talking in the singular and ends in plural. Rashi also adds on to that problem and asks:
"Yet further (2:21) Scripture states: “And He took one of his ribs, etc.”"
Rashi answers his own question, and the one I stated above, by saying:
"The Midrash Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 8:1, Ber. 61a, Eruvin 18a) explains that
He originally created him with two faces, and afterwards, He divided him."
This is something very powerful. Our sages teach us on this midrash an amazing lesson: They explain that men and women were first created as one, linked to each other from back to back into one being. Then, God performed the first ever surgery. He divided men and women into what they are today, two different beings.

When a Hatan enters the chuppah, of course, he is not entering a surgery. It is actually the opposite happening! When a Hatan enters the chuppah, he is making a tikkun (rectification) on the first ever surgery, bringing the world back to the way it originally was intended to be by God. This is actually quite explicit in the psoukim of the second perek of sefer bereshit:
23. And man said, "This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This
one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish
24. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and
cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
We can now understand what Rav Elon meant when he said חתן בחילופי אותיות זה נתח. HaTaN (a groom), in a technique of interpretation where you switch the letters around to make a new word, is like NiTuaH (surgery).
However, let us not stop here, because when a Hatan goes under the chuppah, it is more then a simple tikkun that he is doing. He isn't just bringing back the world to the way it was. He is making it even better! Before the surgery, men and women were one flesh, but they were connected from back to back. Now, they can look each other from face to face.

Our sages teach us that the family unit is the building block of all of am israel. On a simple level this is obvious: The many families together form Am Israel. But there is something much deeper.
The same way the family structure is functional when two jews, loving each other, and looking at each other face to face, Am Israel is functional when all of the individuals in that nation look at each other, face to face, without turning their back to each other.

Harav Mordechai Elon, on a tish, once told us something very obvious, but something which we need to hear over and over again:
"If the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinat chinam, it will obviously
not be rebuilt when sinat chinam is around. "
This was echoing one of Rav Kook's most famous quotes:
"And if we were destroyed, and the world destroyed along with us, by baseless hatred, we shall return to be rebuilt, and the world rebuilt along with us, by gratuitous love. "
(Orot HaKodesh 3, 324)
Some people think that by excluding themselves from klal israel, closing themselves up and learning a lot of gemara, they will bring mashiach. However, only when jews will start looking at each other face to face, only when we will connect ourselves to nishmat haklal, the jewish spark, which exists in every jew, only then will mashiach come.

The passouk most famous for describing Yerushalaim Ir Hakodesh is:
"Ir shechubra la yachdav" - "a city which is interlinked together"

The Mefarshim disagree on what is really interlinked. Some say that Yerushalaim shel Maala, the Jerusalem from Above in which God resides, is interlinked with Yerushalaim shel Matta, Jerusalem from below, where we reside. Others say that Am Israel is interlinked with Yerushalaim. Really, I don't think they are arguing. Rather, what once has not said, the other is saying.

When we learn to look at each other face to face, to realize we are all part of one nation and to make our destiny a part the destiny of the jewish people, when we learn to live the life of klal israel, THEN, Yerushalaim Shel Maala and Yerushalaim Shel Matta will be united once more.

As we have seen, the building block of this reality where people look at each other from face to face is when a hatan and his kallah make the tikkun of the surgery and become one, looking at each other from face to face.
We can now see that this Tikkun and some farther reaching consequences. This tikkun is the building block of the greater Tikkun in which am israel connects itself to its national identity, returns to its land and builds the beit hamikdash as a house of prayer for all the nations.
It now becomes clear why we remember Yerushalaim under the chuppah by breaking a glass. This chuppah ends up becoming one of the bricks which are used to rebuild Jerusalem.

May we all be zoche to connect ourselves to our national identity, to our land, and to each individual jew, face to face, until all jews return to their land, to their God and to their people, bimhera beyamenu.

"עוד ישמע בהרי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים קול ששון וקול שמחה קול חתן וקול כלה" - "Yet again there shall be heard in this place, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. "
"חתן בחילופי אותיות זה נתח"

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