Setting the Stage For Married Life

The Time Preceding a Wedding “As Precious as Time Can Be”

The time preceding a wedding is as precious as time can be (yakar mikal yakar), since the preparations that are made then affect one’s entire life.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 82)

Undertaking Proper Resolutions

Since the subject and theme [of undertaking proper resolutions and conducting yourselves accordingly] relates to constructing a joyous and eternal edifice both materially as well as spiritually, the two of you should therefore resolve to conduct yourselves in accordance with the directives of the Source of Blessing, [i.e.,] as G‑d has instructed in Shulchan Aruch.

Moreover, [you should] begin behaving in this manner even prior to your marriage.

This will [have the effect that it will] bless [not only the marriage itself, but also] the preparations, etc., [to the marriage] with success.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)1

General Preparations

On a number of occasions — particularly during the “general Yechudiyos” for chassanim and kallos — the Rebbe expressed his directives and blessings regarding the preparations to a wedding.

The Rebbe wished chassan and kallah that their preparations be “in a goodly, successful, Jewish and Chassidic manner”; “in accordance with G‑d’s desires”; that their preparations to married life be “crowned with success — in accordance with Torah (one being dependent on the other”); and that they prepare for married life and live a life “in the spirit of Judaism and Torah, with inner vitality and emotion, in a manner of joy and gladness of heart.”

During these “general Yechudiyos,” the Rebbe also exhorted that the preparations of chassan and kallah to their marriage be done “in a Chassidic manner” and “in a manner that is most complete” and “in a manner that most befits the preparations for constructing an eternal edifice.”

The Rebbe also said that chassan and kallah should do all they possibly can in preparing for their weddings, by “observing and being scrupulous with regard to the performance of all aspects relating to their wedding, so that they be done in a way that chassan and kallah are permeated with love and fear of G‑d, and with joy and gladness of heart.”

(Simchas Olam, pp. 55-56)2

In All Ways Similar to the First Marriage
Between G‑d and the Jewish People

All matters in this world descend from their spiritual counterparts above. This is surely so with regard to building a home in Israel. The construction of this edifice is the spiritual counterpart of the wedding of G‑d and the Jewish people, who are called “husband and wife.”

At the time of Mattan Torah, the “betrothal” (kiddushin) between G‑d and the Jewish people took place.

.. The Tashbatz writes3 in the name of the MaHaram m’Rotenberg: “Remember well the following principle. All the customs of chassan and kallah are derived from Mattan Torah, where G‑d revealed Himself as a chassan in relation to the kallah,the Jewish people.”

.. In light of the saying of our Sages on the verse,4 “He relates His words to Yaakov, His statutes and ordinances to Israel,” that G‑d fulfills the same commandments that He has commanded us,5 it follows that G‑d’s wedding with the Jewish people finds expression in all matters.

Which is to say, that the customs associated with the Divine wedding of G‑d and the Jewish people relate not only to the actual wedding day itself, but also with regard to all the details and particulars both before and after the wedding.6

“Under Spiritual Construction”

.. As one embarks upon such a critical and vital step in one’s life as constructing a Jewish eternal edifice of marriage, improving one’s spiritual state is of crucial and fundamental importance.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 169)

Paving the Way

[Marriage is one of the] most fundamental of all mitzvos, and the period of life [prior to marriage] is such that it serves as a foundation for the entire lifetime that will follow.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 24 Adar I, 5736)

Pre-Marriage Preparations for an “Eternal Edifice”

In response to the question as to what steps should be taken by chassan and kallah in preparing for their marriage, the Rebbe responded as follows:

Since the matter at hand is that of an “eternal edifice” filled with never-ending material and spiritual happiness, it follows that each of you [i.e., both chassan and kallah] are to firmly resolve to fully conduct yourselves in keeping with the Source of Blessings, i.e., with G‑d’s directives as stated in Shulchan Aruch.

This should begin prior to the wedding itself, and thus will serve to bless the preparations, etc., [that all the arrangements and preparations to the marriage as well, will be blessed] with success.7

(From a wedding Teshurah)

New Directions Require New Torah and Mitzvos Initiatives

.. It is surely not necessaryto rouse you to increased Torah study and mitzvah performance; especially in light of the new direction your life is taking, [i.e., getting married].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 8)

In a Modest Manner

Our8 Sages9 interpret the verse10 “...and walk humbly with your G‑d” to mean that “this refers to ‘bringing the bride’ (hachnosas kallah) to the chuppah.” ...

.. With regard to Mattan Torah the Midrash states:11 “The original set of Luchos were destroyed because they were transmitted in a very public manner — they were affected by an ayin hara. Here, [with regard to the second set of Luchos,] G‑d said to Moshe, ‘There is nothing better (“Ein lach yafah”) [and more appropriate] than tznius’ [a modest demeanor; i.e., that the second set of Luchos be given without fanfare.]”

The Midrash concludes [with the additional comment]: “As the verse states,12 ‘What does G‑d demand of you? Nothing but that you act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with your G‑d.’”

It is to be understood from all the above, that when a Jewish man and woman set about to build an eternal edifice through marriage, their preparations for this momentous event, as well as the event itself — also their actions subsequent to this significant occasion — are to be in a manner of, “There is nothing better [and more appropriate] than tznius.”

This will serve to assure that all matters relating to the marriage should be in a manner similar to the second LuchosLuchos that endured forever.

The Illumined Foundation

May it be G‑d’s will that [the glad tidings regarding the shidduch] be li’mazal tov, mazal tov and in a good and auspicious hour, for an eternal edifice based upon the foundations of Torah and mitzvos, as they are illumined by the luminary of Torah — Toras HaChassidus.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 184)

“Eternal Edifice on the Foundations Of Torah and Mitzvos”

... I duly received your letter, in which you write about your forthcoming wedding in a happy and auspicious hour. I send you my prayerful wishes for mazal tov, mazal tov.

Knowing your parents and your background, I trust that the following observations require no special elaboration.

I have in mind, first of all, that in the text of the blessings that are recited under the chuppah, a Jewish marriage is described as a binyan adei ad, (everlasting edifice). Needless to say, this is not just a poetic phrase but an analogy containing many points of interest.

Above all, when one is about to put up a structure, one must first and foremost ensure that the foundation is solid. Whereas, in regard to the structure which will rise on that foundation, there can be differences of opinion as to how much consideration should be given to the outward appearance, how to reckon with the views of neighbors and friends, and whether or not to forego certain other things for the sake of external appearances.

There can be no difference of opinion, however, that the primary and overriding consideration, insofar as the foundation is concerned, is that it should be solid and firm and durable, able to withstand changes of climate, and firmly support the entire structure with all the people that are housed in it.

For this reason, the material that is chosen for the foundation must have been tested and proven in order to fulfill these vital requirements; tested and proven under various conditions, both favorable and unfavorable, and under all extremes.

All the above is true in regard to the “binyan adei ad....” Here, too, the Jewish home must be established on the very solid foundation of Torah and mitzvos, which have been put to the test throughout the ages, both insofar as the Jewish individual, and the Jewish people as a whole, are concerned — and under all sorts of conditions.

There can be no doubt that the Torah has lived up to its name — Toras Chayim, the Torah of Life, which also denotes a good and happy life in this world, and that the mitzvos, of which it is written, “The Jew shall live by them,” have similarly been the source of life and happiness — not only in the World to Come but in this world, too.

May G‑d grant that [your marriage] should indeed be an everlasting edifice and the channel through which to receive G‑d’s blessings in all your needs, both materially and spiritually.

With blessings of mazal tov, mazal tov,

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Marriage Must Also Be Established
On the Foundation of Toras HaChassidus

.. That which is most critical [is] establishing a Jewish home on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos.

In present times, times in which many mistake light for darkness and darkness for light, even these very foundations must be illuminated and permeated with the “luminary of Torah,” the inner portion of Torah, which during present times, has been revealed in Toras HaChassidus.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 89)

Chitas and Regular Torah Lessons

Among the preparations for a wedding are observing the well-known daily lesson in Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, as well as maintaining one’s regular Torah sessions. For particularly in the months preceding one’s wedding, the more one increases in the above, the more praiseworthy he is.13

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 98)

“The Main Preparation”

.. The main preparation is that of spreading the light of Torah and mitzvos, illuminating one’s environs.

This serves to increase G‑d’s blessings that it be an everlasting edifice on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 573)

Preparing the Home

[Included among the resolutions that are to be undertaken in preparation for marriage, are for chassan and kallah to resolve] to prepare the home that it be open for guests, hachnosas orchim, and open for Torah scholars, beis vaad la’chachomim — a home that is openly permeated with Torah and Judaism.

(Hisvaaduyos 5745, Vol. III, p. 2242)

Occupied With Spiritual Preparations

It is important that chassan and kallah be occupied in the spiritual preparations for marriage, as these preparations are vitally important to the young couple for the rest of their lives.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 315)

“Determination and Commitment”

In response to the information about your forthcoming marriage:

I am confident that both of you are firmly resolved to establish your home and family life on the foundations of Torah and mitzvos. This and this alone ensures that it will be a binyan adei ad, an everlasting edifice, blessed by the Source of All Blessings, the Giver of the Torah and mitzvos.

We have the assurance of the Torah that when there is a real determination and commitment to live one’s everyday life in accordance with the Torah, it is easier to carry out the task than one imagined it would be.

I extend to you prayerful wishes for the fulfillment of the traditional blessing:

Mazal tov, mazal tov, l’binyan adei ad al yesodei HaTorah vehamitzvos.

(From a letter of the Rebbe)

Accepting the Yoke of Torah

In preparation for marriage, it is important that at as early an opportunity as possible ... he actualizes and takes upon himself the yoke of Torah, as I have previously told him. This actualization consists of bringing into reality the acceptance of this yoke.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 255)

Increasing Torah Study
And Exemplary Performance of Mitzvos

.. Understandably, the preparations for one’s wedding are primarily spiritual in nature — by increasing one’s study of our sacred Torah, the Torah of Life, studying diligently and assiduously, as well as increasing one’s exemplary performance of mitzvos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 80)

Chassan and Kallah Must Concern Themselves
With Those Matters That Are Most Crucial

Young men who are about to marry — in a good and auspicious hour — may think that since a chassan has all his sins forgiven on his wedding day, he has nothing to worry about, since his previous sins are forgiven, and with regard to his future sins [he really has nothing to worry about, for] who doesn’t have a few minor sins, Heaven forfend.

It is therefore very important to know and be aware that when one embarks on building a new home, one must make a parapet.14

.. The service of a “new home” — which is a complete form of service and draws down a new manifestation of Divine light — must be preceded by total spiritual cleanliness and purity...; particularly when the individual is involved with this lowly physical world.... Freeing oneself from the encumbrances of this world requires a strong degree of vigilance — “making a parapet.”

.. As known, marriage draws down G‑d’s infinite power, the dynamism of Ein Sof, which is why it results in an everlasting edifice [an edifice that goes on infinitely, through] blessed and upright generations.

This is one of the reasons a chassan has all his sins forgiven on the day of his marriage, as marriage attains the degree of Ein Sof that completely transcends the limited order of Hishtalshelus: he attains a level where sins and blemishes simply do not exist.

As all Divine effulgences — even those that transcend Hishtalshelus — are brought about through man’s service, through an isarusa diltata (“an arousal from below”), our spiritual service and our spiritual preparations are necessary if we wish to draw down this level.

This is also one of the reasons why chassan and kallah fast on the day of their wedding, for fasting is one of the paths of teshuvah.

Since “fortunate is a righteous individual and fortunate is his neighbor,” it therefore follows that the “neighboring days,” i.e., the days preceding the wedding, already contain some measure of that special quality drawn down on the wedding day.

It thus follows that the preparations to receiving this transcendent level of Ein Sof begins as well quite some time prior to the wedding.

When exactly do these preparations begin?

Our Sages say that “A good trait is rewarded in greater measure than an evil trait [is punished,” which is to say that goodly matters are to be accomplished at least in the same measure as are non-goodly matters].

It therefore follows that spiritual preparations for the wedding begin [at least] from the time when the tumult begins with the material and external preparations for the wedding.

Therefore, from the time that the “commotion” begins in preparation for the nonessentials, it would be better to utilize that time in the positive direction of goodness — making an account of all past misdeeds and repenting for them, studying Torah, performing mitzvos in an exemplary manner, and occupying oneself in the service of prayer.

There are special laws that apply to married life, laws that must be studied by chassan and kallah before their marriage, so that when they are married they already know these laws.

I need not exhort chassanim and kallos about studying these laws, for “Sons and daughters of Israel are ‘kosher,’” and they will surely study these laws as much as necessary and when necessary, doing so without undue delay.

But aside from the above, it is also vital to increase your Torah study, perform mitzvos in an exemplary manner, occupy yourselves in the service of prayer and truly repent.

This will bring about that the chassan’s and kallah’s sins will all be forgiven, that the marriage will take place in a good and auspicious hour, and that it will be an eternal edifice.

There were a number of proposals regarding the shidduch of the Mitteler Rebbe. [When the Mitteler Rebbewas asked about his preference, he responded that] he desired the shidduch that would be concluded soonest, for he was already impatient to hear the maamarim that would be delivered [by the Alter Rebbe] at his wedding.

One cannot demand of present day chassanim that their entire desire to wed be in order to increase the luminosity of Chassidus in this world.

But at a minimum, it is demanded of them that they not forget an explicit law — something that is found not only in Chassidus, but also in Nigleh and codified as law — that a chassan has each and every one of his past sins forgiven on his wedding day, including the grave sin of “chan” [chatas ne’urim — “sins of one’s youth”], a sin that brings about exile and forestalls the Geulah.

During this time [of spiritually preparing for the wedding], all external matters (even matters concerning a dwelling — and a dwelling touches a person more deeply than food and clothing) should be done by others, and chassan and kallah themselves need not think about that which is of secondary significance, but of that which is of primary importance.

What is crucial, vital and of primary import is for the wedding to take place in a good and auspicious hour and that it be an everlasting edifice.

This cannot be accomplished through taking pictures and the like. This can only be accomplished by studying Torah, performing mitzvos in an exemplary manner, occupying oneself in the service of prayer, and repenting — truly repenting ... in a manner that not only does the penitent forgive himself, but that G‑d truly forgives him.

When one does all the above, then and only then can he rest assured that the wedding will take place in a good and auspicious hour and that it will be an everlasting edifice.

There is falsity in thinking that since his marriage must be like everyone else’s, he must therefore be occupied with regard to external matters as well.

This falsehood is amply demonstrated by the first marriage in history, the wedding of Adam and Chavah. At that time no photographs were taken, etc., and nevertheless the marriage was crowned with success.

One must abandon all worldly, purposeless, and meaningless activities (havlei olam). When one does so, then the wedding will take place in a good and auspicious hour and it will be an everlasting edifice, fully in keeping with G‑d’s desire.

.. It is demanded of chassan and kallah that they be entirely removed from the external matters surrounding their wedding — all this can be accomplished by others.

When it comes to measuring clothing, it must of course be measured on the chassan and kallah themselves. However, with regard to other matters — moreover, to be immersed and captivated by those matters — they may have full faith in G‑d that everything will be as it should be.

.. This service of teshuvah that precedes one’s wedding generally begins immediately after the engagement.

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, pp. 123-126)15