Having understood that it is a mitzvah to be married we now turn to the magical enchantment of marriage.

We have learned before, and will continue to see, that everything in the physical world is a product and a reflection of that which exists in the spiritual world. There is a relationship between G‑d and Am Yisrael which is exclusive and loving and that is in fact the blueprint for the relationship between a married man and woman. A man and woman who are in love together in the various forms of love described below are in love because there is a corresponding spiritual state. Man and woman at their most intimate are a manifestation of the relationship between G‑d and Am Yisrael.

G‑d is always described in Torah as the masculine partner and Am Yisrael as the female partner. The union between G‑d and Am Yisrael is a union of intimacy and a union of connection. From the time of the giving of the Torah to Am Yisrael, from the time of the wedding of G‑d to His people, a new reality was created and subsists.

The clue is the level of exclusivity that we Am Yisrael have for G‑d and G‑d for us. Hence the term Hashem Elokeinu, which means “our G‑d” (and not everybody else’s G‑d). Do we say that G‑d isn’t G‑d for everybody? Of course not. There is only one G‑d and Am Yisrael has been the banner holder, the flag bearer of that fact since Abraham. We are the people of steadfast insistence that there is one G‑d. At the same time we say He is ours. Why? Our relationship with that one G‑d is a special relationship; the Torah says we are a precious nation, a chosen nation. The preciousness and choice are the exclusivity and changed reality of our unique relationship — out of which is to come the wonder of new life by changing the world by bringing spirituality into physicality.

Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were in fact created as one. They were then separated by G‑d, thus allowing the first conjunction which in turn resulted in new life. This is very important code containing great secrets of Torah. One secret, as explained in Chassidus,1 is that when a marriage takes place the union of the two souls is really a re-union of two parts of the one soul. This is a very deep proposition and much follows from it as we will see. Although physically a marriage is the bringing together of two strangers, this reality is only a physical reality. On a spiritual level what is happening is the two parts of the soul are re-uniting and the product of this reunion is the magic of new life. (Sometimes the soul has multiple parts and so there exists divorce and subsequent marriage.)2

Because the two souls are in essence one, it therefore follows that a primary defining characteristic of marriage is that it is a state of exclusivity. The man relates to the woman exclusively and the woman relates to the man exclusively. If the two parts compliment each other and nourish each other the unit will grow and flower. If there is any level of infidelity (whether physical or otherwise) the two parts of the soul are at odds and at war with each other, resulting in sickness and withering of that one soul — the relationship.

There is a beautiful letter from the Rebbe to a young person asking whether it was really necessary to have separate dancing at a wedding. The Rebbe replied pointing out that marriage was the undertaking of a state of exclusivity. What sort of example was being provided for this new state of exclusivity if at the first possible opportunity that uniqueness was ignored?

We live in a time when the media and the various forms of communication are eroding the exclusivity between a man and a woman rapidly. In the Jewish belief system however, the state of man and wife being together is a unique, holy condition. It is not simply oriented to a pleasure principle, although this is obviously important. Much more, intimacy is the conduit to the extraordinary magic of creation. In other words, just as Hashem creates the world yesh me’ayin (something out of nothing), the product of married man and woman is something out of nothing, a birth, a new life.

In Chapter 3 we will learn of the three main categories of emotion and their directions: giving (chesed), taking (gevurah) and the combination of both (tiferes).

It is obvious that when a couple who have real love and regard for each other and are really relating to each other in their conjugal union at the level of tiferes, then there is achieved the deepest level of intimacy, described in Torah as “one flesh”. Chassidus points out this is also “one soul”. The point here is a description of connection into one unity. Obviously there is connection between one body and another body, one animal soul to another, but at its highest point the connection is G‑dly soul with G‑dly soul. In the physical world in which we live we have to deal with the mortgages, fixing our kids’ teeth and the apparently impossible task of balancing our budgets. There are times however, for everyone in a good marriage, when they can remember and reflect on the precious moments of total intimacy. These moments are a spiritual realization of soul reconnection and indeed unity of one part of the soul with the other.

There is a fascinating term in Torah3 for the first intimacy between Adam and Eve which is from the root of the Hebrew word daas which has the meaning “know”.4

The word translated into English is the word “know”.

We need to digress to understand the meaning of this term in Hebrew. As stated in other places in this book, English is unfortunately a poor language for spiritual description and we need a vocabulary of ideas in order to understand properly the critical meaning of a man and woman “knowing” each other in the sense used by the Hebrew term.

Chabad Chassidus is so-called because of the acronym of three words all of which loosely mean in English “to understand” or “to know”. They come from the following three words which describe the following three states of “understanding” or “knowledge”:— chochmah, binah and daas

1. Chochmah is usually described as the original flash of an idea and is merely that; a flash of an idea with no length and breadth. It is a unique and entirely new thought which remains to be tested and explored. For example, it may be that a doctor treating patients for heart disorder may find one day that he has an outrageous new idea. It occurs to him that people who floss their teeth seem less likely to have heart attacks. At the time that he has this original idea there is no introduction to it, it is entirely novel and without size or shape, length or breadth.

2. Binah — then comes the question of testing this idea. How many people who floss their teeth have heart attacks? How many people who do not floss their teeth do not have heart attacks? What is the correlation between the two? Obviously control groups have to be set up and statistics compiled. When this exhaustive process has been undertaken it is then safe to formulate a theory which tabulates with flossing and heart disease.

3. Daas —finally comes the important last question. Assuming that the doctor establishes the connection, does he then become a person who regularly flosses his teeth? If he does, he has daas in teeth-flossing. If he does not, all the chochmah and all the binah in the world simply do not change his behavior.

It is this change of behavior that we learn in Chassidus is critical to a man’s development. It is very important to “understand” original concepts in Torah. It is very important to “understand” the application and the length and breadth of the halachas (laws)in Torah. The critical issue is whether with this information and these two levels of understanding a man changes his behavior. At a deeper level, not only is behavior changed but also speech and also thought. We will learn more about this together in the chapters on the soul.

Meanwhile, it is sufficient to understand that this change of behavior, speech and thought brings about an entirely new reality. In the simple teeth example the doctor now has a new reality knowing/understanding that he is at risk by not flossing his teeth . When the Torah uses the term for Adam knowing/understanding Eve it is the term referred to as daas above. What is being connoted here is that Adam, through his union with Eve, found an entirely new reality changing both of them forever.

In a good marriage this is really what needs to take place. The conjunction of the two parts of the one soul reconfigure in a way that their reality is indelibly changed for all time. The change is from the outlook and reality of an individual, to the outlook and reality of a unit; a loving, supporting, reinforcing unit, the outcome of which is the wonder of new life.

Two teenagers exploring for the sake of physical pleasure only, will not find the level of intimacy being described. The level of connection which exists between a married man and woman does so because of the two factors of exclusivity and changed reality.

So what is true of Am Yisrael in her relationship with G‑d is true of man and woman. When the relationship is intimate and exclusive and we are connected one with the other, the result is vitality, life. If a person’s focus is merely on his animal drives, his animal soul, and not on exclusive connection, then his life, no matter how it is dressed up with money, cars, food and drink, is bereft and poor and he goes hungry.

Exactly the same is true for partners in a marriage.