Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Ki Saitzai 5755

(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

"If a man marries a woman and lives with her, and it will be that she will not find favor in his eyes, ... and he wrote her a bill of divorce and presented it into her hand, and sent her from his house." (Deut. 24:1)



This verse is the basis of the law for divorce. Once a woman is divorced she is free to marry practically whomever she chooses. To initiate a divorce, the a man must present his wife with a written document that severs their relationship, called in Mishnaic Hebrew, a get. The Torah however, refers to a get as a sefer ke'ri'suss, which is derived from the word karas, cutting off. This means that the divorce must be unconditional, severing all bonds. Any get which stipulates permanent conditions, such as she may never to marry a certain individual, or she may never drink wine for the rest of her life, is invalid, because the conditions themselves represent the continuation of a bond between the husband and wife. However, a get with conditions of limited duration, such as she may not drink wine for thirty days, is valid. The Vilna Goan observes that in the written Torah, the Hebrew letters, gimel and tet, which spell the word get, are always separated from each other, never appearing consecutively, which demonstrates that these letters are indeed appropriate for the name of the instrument that separates husband and wife from one another. (Divrei Eliyahu)

Although the Torah sanctions divorce, as, at times, proper and even necessary, the Talmud describes the tragedy of divorce, "When a man divorces his first wife, even the Altar sheds tears, as the verse says, 'And this further do you do: [You] cause the Alter of Hashem to be covered with tears, with weeping and with sighing, so that He (Hashem) no longer turns to the offering or receives it with good will from your hand. And you ask why? Because Hashem has been witness between you and the wife of your youth against whom you have been treacherous, though she is your companion and the wife of your covenant."' (malachai 2:13-14) (Talmud: Gitten 90a) It seems strange. How can a mere piece of paper dissolve the strong bonds of marriage? Furthermore, what is it about divorce that affects a kohen (priest) such that he may not marry a divorcee, while others may? In the following paragraphs, based on the teaching's of his mentor, Rabbi Nachman, Rav Noson, explains, some of the aspects related to these issues.


Divorce should be avoided at all costs. But when every possible avenue of reconciliation has been exhausted without success, the couple divorces. Rav Noson explains that in many cases, divorce becomes necessary when the couple is no longer able to live together in peace, and in such instances, it is an indication that they are not soulmates. This is why they have so much trouble getting along. Their fighting is a manifestation of their souls' negative reaction to their union. Rav Noson emphasizes that all matches are brought about by Hashem (G-d). The reason for such seemingly bad matches that are predestined to end in divorce is that the couple had to rectify something together. When the rectification has been completed, Hashem induces friction between the couple, which leads to divorce. (Lekutai Halachoth: Even Ha'Ezer: Hilchoth Pir'ya V'Rivya V'Hilchoth Eishuth 5.24) The holy Ari teaches, just as marriage is predetermined, so is divorce. (Shar HaGigulim)


To better understand our discussion, it is necessary to briefly explain how the human intellect works: In order for the mind to effectively function, it derives spiritual energies from the many areas in Heaven to which it is spiritually connected. The thought process begins through the mind's connection to the Heavenly chamber known as abba (father), which contains the spiritual energies of chochma, (wisdom: pure unified thought, the knowledge of and the ability to gather basic information). The area in Heaven known as imma (mother) contains the spiritual energies of bina (understanding: the ability to make logical distinctions, to analyze existing information), and is where the basic axioms of chochma are delineated and defined. When chochma and bina are combined, they produce offspring called daat (knowledge, applied logic:. the ability to bring together the basic information that is given (chochma) and make it interact logically (bina)). Chochma and bina are a completely internal process, whereas da'at involves externalization, and includes the ability to effectively communicate one's thoughts to the outside world.

For men, the spiritual energies of chochma predominate, for women, bina. This is the main distinction between masculine and feminine intellect. Mating, then, is a merging of the energies of chochma and bina, male and female. Unlike the mating process of animals, where instinct and desire play a major role, marriage is essentially a complex exercise in the life-long development of the intellect, where the minds of the male and female are merged as one. The couple then uses their pooled resources to better serve and understand Hashem. This is why the Torah describes intimate relations by the term day'ah, knowledge, as the verse says, "And Adam knew Chava (Eve) his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain (their offspring were an actualization of the complex process of the merging of their minds]..." (Genesis 4:1)


The spiritual energies contained in the minds of each man and woman are connected to a specific area in heaven. The masculine spiritual energies of chochma are associated with the spiritual energies of chessed (kindness). The feminine spiritual energies of bina are associated with the spiritual energies of gevura (strength, restraint, and severity). The only way that din, severity, can be mitigated is through the spiritual energies of chessed. So when a man and woman marry, his connection to chessed tempers and sweetens her connection to gevurah and together, they rectify the part of the cosmos to which they are spiritually connected. Just as a chemist must mix the right combination of chemicals to produce a desired result, so too does Hashem match a specific man with a specific woman to produce the desired rectifications of the spiritual areas with which they are associated. The wrong combination would cause great spiritual damage to the universe. One reason for the prohibition against adultery, therefore, is that the souls of husband and wife are uniquely connected to a certain spiritual area, and so, no other man is able to team up with that woman to mitigate those areas of severity associated with her soul. In his transgression, the paramour strengthens the forces of evil. His improper actions give the forces of evil access to his masculine soul and enable them t(j"be nourished through his energies of chessed, causing tremendous spiritual damage.

The process that initiates marriage, when a man, with the woman's consent, gives her something of value, [generally a gold ring] or a written document that legally and spiritually binds them together as husband and wife, is called kiddushin (fit. sanctification). Although there are several different methods of initiating marriage, every union requires that the man give his wife a document, called a ketuba, which mandates provision for her financial welfare in case of divorce or the husband's demise. From the juxtaposition of the subjects of divorce and marriage in our verse, the sages derive that the two processes are analogous in every way where it is possible to compare them. Therefore, the first step of marriage, keddushin, although not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, can be implemented through a document, just like the explicitly mentioned document used in the process of divorce. The Torah tells us that the marriage document and the document of divorce work essentially the same way, except that one initiates the marriage process and the other dissolves it.


Rav Noson explains how the documents work on the spiritual level to initiate or dissolve a marriage. On the physical level, a book or document is a vehicle through which the thoughts and intellect of the author are disseminated. The written word bridges the mind of the reader with an outside source of intelligence, the author, who may be far removed from the reader's physical location. The same is true on the spiritual level. One who reads book or signs a document connects his soul to a certain area in Heaven which are associated with the spiritual energies of that book or document. Documents of marriage and divorce transport the intellects of the couple to the upper worlds, to the area associated with the universal source of all human intellect and intelligence. In this spiritual area, there is no division, everything is one. Only on earth is there separation. In other words, this lofty spiritual area, the universal intellect, unifies, connects and binds all human intelligence together as one. Once the minds of the couple are spiritually transported, through either the document of marriage or divorce, to this lofty area, they encounter the point at which they are bound together. When a marriage is performed, the separate consciousnesses of the bride and groom spiritually ascend to the area of the universal intellect, where the spiritual energies contained in the marriage document firmly cements both of their individual conscience's as one. Their spiritual and intellectual binding endures, even after the marriage ceremony, when their intellects return to earth, the place of spiritual and intellectual separation. Therefore, the difference between a married couple and all other people is that the minds of the married couple are spiritually united, even on earth, whereas the minds of all other people are distinctly separated from each other. Conversely, in the case of a divorce, the mind's of the married couple must ascend again, to the place of the universal intellect to undo their ties of marriage through a bill of divorce. In this case, the document of divorce spiritually breaks the intellectual binds of the couple, separating their intellects and souls, which remain segregated after their minds have returned to earth.


Rav Noson points out that it is no mere happenstance that on Ya'akov's (Jacob's) journey to his uncle Laban's house, where he would eventually marry, and produce twelve righteous sons, laying the foundation of the Jewish nation, he came upon the place where the Temple was destined to stand. It was upon the very spot where the Holy of Holies was to be, that, Ya'akov layed and dedicated the cornerstone of the Temple even though it would not actually be constructed for another 600 some odd years. In some ways, the Temple, served a purpose similar to marriage. The Temple, which linked heaven and earth, would elevate the collective conscious of every mind to the upper worlds, where the harshness and severity of this world could then be negated and rectified. This is one reason that marriage is referred to by the term, keddusl7in (sanctification), that through sanctity, for which the Temple was the focal point, all the harshness of this world is negated. Through his prayer at the Temple site, and by laying the Temple's eventual cornerstone, Ya'akov was able to draw to himself and spiritually transport the souls of those who were destined to be his wives and twelve sons to the place of the heavenly universal intellect. By accessing the awesome powers of the universal intellect, he neutralized the harshness and spiritual pollution of this world that was connected to their souls. Once this was accomplished he was ready to go marry Leah and Rachel, righteous and virtuous women, who would bear him holy and righteous offspring -- sons who were fitting to be the very foundation of the world, i.e. the twelve holy tribes. [Note: The foundation stone of the Temple consisted of twelve separate stones that had miraculously merged to form one. (c.f. Genesis 28:11, Rashi) Ya'akov placed those twelve stones on the site of the future Temple in order to access all spiritual energies associated with the number twelve, which resonated with the souls of his future offspring. The fact that the twelve stones were transformed into one was an indication that Ya'akov had successfully connected his sons' twelve souls to the universal intellect where everything is in unity].


Our sages teach us that it is forbidden for a high priest to perform the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) service in the Temple unless he is married. The high priest's ability to effect atonement for the entire nation on Yom Kippur was dependent upon his service in the Holy of Holies, which negated all of the harsh judgments and spiritual energies of severity caused the people's sins. Since the Holy of Holies was the spiritual interface of heaven and earth, the high priest's service there transported the spiritual essence of every Jew to the upper worlds, the place of the universal intelligence, where no harsh judgments exist. The people's unification with the universal intelligence would negate all of the negative spiritual energies caused by their sins. Therefore, the atonement of Yom Kippur and marriage are strongly related. This is why the wedding day is considered a personal Yom Kippur for the bride and groom, that all their sins are forgiven on that day, the day their souls become merged in the chamber of the universal intelligence. This also explains why the high priest must be married. An unmarried high priest would not have any connection or access to the heavenly universal intelligence and would therefore be unable to elevate the soul of the entire nation to the place upon which their atonement was dependent.


In addition to the high priest, many other priests officiated in the Temple service year round, atoning for Israel's sins through sacrificial offerings. Part of that process involved counteracting the negative spiritual energies created by sin, and the elimination of the harsh judgments. Only the priests, male descendants of Aaron the first priest, were permitted to offer scarifies in the Temple. This was due to the unique resonance of their souls which singularly enabled them annul the negative spiritual energies corrupted by sin. No other class of Jew possessed this unique ability. The essential spiritual quality that enabled the priest to atone for sin was that he fully resonated with and radiated peace, as the verse says, "Behold I (Hashem) give him (Phineas the priest) My covenant of peace. And it (the covenant of peace) shall be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of a eternal priesthood..." (Numbers 25:12, 13) The priesthood was bestowed eternally upon Aaron and his descendants, because of his exceptional conduct in fostering peace, treating others with love, respect, dignity etc., as the Talmud teaches, " Hillel says, 'Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people, and [through love stimulating estranged people to repent,] bringing them closer to the Torah.'" (Talmud: Avoth 1:12)

Divorce is an act of separation, often resulting from bickering and hatred. The effectiveness of the priest in gaining atonement for the nation is dependent upon his ability to activate his priestly spiritual energies, the energies associated with peace. Therefore, he must always be spiritually connected to peace and love. The negative spiritual energies created by the separation and bitterness of divorce attaches itself to the woman's soul, imbedded there for the rest of her life. When a couple weds, their soul's merge. Therefore, a priest is forbidden to marry a divorcee, for the negative energies attached to her soul will dilute his priestly powers, when their soul's merge. Then he would be disabled in serving Hashem, unable to effect spiritual healing and atonement for the nation. [Note: A male priest's soul is not effected by his own divorce and in such a case, he would be able to continue serving in the Temple. It seems unfair that a woman's soul should be damaged by divorce for the duration of her lifetime, whereas a man's soul is not. We offer the following brief explanation for this perplexity: Unlike a man, in order for a woman to accomplish her vital role in the service of Hashem, which is the rectification of the world, and the production of holy offspring, Hashem gives her a soul that is capable of receiving many kinds of spiritual energies, where they remain for incubation, being perfected and rectified. Unfortunately there is a dubious aspect to this as well. The She'law HaKodesh says that the spiritual energies that a woman absorbs remain with her for the rest of her life, including the negative spiritual energies of divorce. The masculine soul, although receptive to spiritual energies, does not have the feminine soul's potent ability to incubate, therefore a man does not retain the spiritual energies of created by divorce. This brief explanation does not fully answer why the law treats men and women differently regarding divorce, and certainly may seem unsatisfactory. However, Hashem and His law is always just and His ways are beyond human comprehension. Rabbi Nachman taught that due to Hashem's unbounded intellect, His understanding and perception are infinitely greater than the relatively limited human's, there must inherently be many unresolved issues relating to Hashem and His ways]. (Lekutai Halachoth: Even Ha'ezer: Hilchoth Gitten 3:1-9)


We mentioned that even the Altar cries when a divorce occurs, the following story recorded in the Talmud illustrates this point:

The Talmud recounts the incident that triggered the Divine decree to destroy the Temple: Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: What [incident] is an illustration of that which is written, "They oppress a man and his house, even a man and his inheritance." (Micha 2:2) There was an incident in which one man, who was a carpenter's apprentice, coveted the wife of his Master. His Master once needed to borrow [some money]. [The apprentice] said to him, "Send. your wife to [my house (which was located far from the Master's home)], and I will give her the loan." [The Master] sent his wife to [the apprentice], and [the apprentice] spent three days with her. [The Master] arose and went to [the apprentice]. [The Master] asked him, "Where is my wife whom I sent to you?" [The apprentice] said to him, "I let her go immediately, but I heard that some youths abused her on the way." [The Master] asked him, "What shall I do?"

[Note: The apprentice had implied that the master's wife had willingly participated in extramarital relations. The Torah forbids a husband, whose wife willingly committed adultery, to continue living with her. He is then required to divorce her (MaHarsha)]. [The apprentice] answered him, "if you take my advice, divorce her!" [The Master] said to him, "[But] her kesuba (a prenuptial agreement that requires a husband to pay a designated sum of money in the advent of death or divorce) [payment] is great." [Note: Although an adulterous women forfeits her rights to the kesuba payment, in this case the husband had no actual proof that his wife had committed adultery. Thus he was not required by law to divorce her and was then required to pay her kesuba]. [The apprentice] said to him, "I will lend you [the money] and (then you will be able to] give her the kesubah [payment that is] due her." [The Master] went ahead [and divorced her]. [The apprentice then] went and married her. When the time came (for the Master to repay the loan] and he did not have [the money] to pay [the apprentice], [the apprentice] said to him, "Come and work for me to pay off your debt." While they [the apprentice and his wife] were sitting, eating, and drinking, [the Master] would stand and serve them drink. Tears would fall from his eyes and drop into their cups. Because of [this incident at] that moment, the decree of [destruction of the Temple] was sealed [in heaven, because of the apprentice's scandalous deception]. But some say [that the decree was sealed] because of two wicks in one lamp, [i.e. According to this opinion, the decree was sealed because of the adultery committed by the apprentice and his master's wife during the three days they were alone together. In such a case, the law forbids an adulterous couple to marry even after the woman divorces. (MarHasha)]. [Note, According to either version this was a well-publicized incident and yet no one protested the apprentice's outrageous behavior. Therefore, all the people were held liable. (MarHarsha)]. (Talmud: Gitten 58a)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman taught that along with reciting the mandatory daily prayers contained in the prayerbook, we should also speak to Hashem, just as we would confide in our best friend. in seclusion, in the language and style with which we feel most comfortable. This is based on the advice of our sages: 'Rebbe Yitzchak said. 'Why were our forefathers barren? Because Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous." (Talmud. Yevamoth 64a) "Hashem seeks nothing other than to hear the prayers of Israel.' (Medrash Tehillim 116:1) The following is an example of such a session:

Help me to seek, find, and retrieve all those things that I have lost (the parts of my soul that has fallen into the realm of evil through my sins) from the day that I have come to this earth until this very day. Assist me in purifying and sanctifying myself with great holiness throughout the year, especially during the holy days of awe, from Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Year) until Simchat Torah (the annual celebration of the conclusion of the reading of the Torah). Help us merit to do complete repentance during the ten days of repentance, in order that I can rectify all what I have destroyed. (2 Lekutai Tefilos 5)


Based on the advice of our sages (Talmud: Megilah 28b), Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone should study at least one law from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) [or its equivalent, other books which are based on the Shulchan Aruch] everyday without fail. (Sichoth HaRan 29)

[One's obligation to blow the shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year)] can only be fulfilled during the day and not at night. The obligation to blow the shofar begins from sunrise and beyond [because at sunrise it is easy to recognize that the day has started, whereas in the early dawn it is not so clear. (Mishna Brurah)]. If one blew the shofar at dawn (before sunrise), one has fulfilled his obligation. I.' one heard [the beginning] part of the Tekiah note before dawn and [its concluding] part after dawn, one hasn't fulfilled his obligation. (Mechaver) Even if the Tekiah note was [stretched out] long enough after dawn for the valid length of time, one has still not fulfilled his obligation, because he has not fulfilled the requirement to begin the note at the proper time. (Rama) (Shulchan Aruch: Orach Chaim 588:1)


Special Appeal: Due to the current perilous situation in Israel we appeal to all Jews to recite at least one Psalm daily to enlist Hashem's help, as the Talmud says, "Upon whom can we rely? Upon our Father Who is in Heaven!" (Talmud: Sotah 49a)

Volume 3, Issue 47