Parshas Tazria: Only Marriage Can Lift Your Relationship With G-D and With Humans

Though the Parsha of Tazria deals exclusively with matters of spiritual impurity and it would therefore seem difficult to find within it an appropriate message for a chassan and kallah, there is a powerful insight present.

The Ramban writes that the affliction of tzaraas has no place in the natural order of the world, but is strictly a spiritual disease, meted out to Jews who do not follow G-d’s precepts (Vayikra 13:47). Conversely, Jews who do maintain an appropriate level of observance ensure that their bodies, their clothes and their homes are granted a special Divine aura. For this reason, the Ramban continues, tzaraas was only inflicted in Eretz Yisrael, G-d’s chosen land and residence, where the spiritual stakes are higher.

The spiritual connection between G-d and His nation is often compared to that of a chassan and kallah. Rashi notes that the verse, “On the day Moshe finished (kalos) erecting the Tabernacle…” (Bamidbar 7:1), alludes to Israel’s designation, on the day G-d’s residence was established, as a kallah entering the chuppah.

The last mishnah in Taanis makes a similar connection. Quoting the verse, “Go out and see, daughters of Zion, King Shlomo with the crown that his mother crowned him with on the day of his wedding and on the day his heart was glad” (Shir Hashirim 3:11), the mishnah states that “the day of his wedding” refers to the anniversary of the giving of the Torah.

Moreover, the chuppah canopy is symbolic of the mountain that G-d hung over the heads of the Jewish people when He gave them the Torah. Under that chuppah we break a glass to signify the destruction of the Temple and our subsequent estrangement from G-d. In all these instances there is a connection between a Jewish wedding and the Jews’ marriage to G-d and His Torah, and Parshas Tazria contains laws that contribute to this correlation.

The end of the Parsha establishes the laws of family purity, which govern the virtue of the Jewish people. In the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai teaches that by getting married, one complies with the verse, “Man shall leave his father and his mother and cling (vedavak) to his wife” (Bereishis 2:24), thus learning how to achieve the highest level of spirituality, deveikus, attachment to G-d. By bonding with his wife, a man develops his emotional capacity, which he can then apply to his relationship with G-d. Through marriage one comes closer to G-d.

More lessons in spiritual progress are gleaned from the beginning of Parshas Tazria. The Parsha opens by declaring that the circumcision of a newborn son be on the eighth day. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai suggests that the eight day was chosen because, in accordance with Biblical law, after a weeklong period of abstinence following the birth of their child, the parents were permitted to resume marital relations on that day (Nidah 31b). As such, the mitzvah of milah is fulfilled at a time when the parents are especially happy, reflecting an ideal harmony between body and soul.

After the child is circumcised he is blessed that he should graduate “to Torah, to chuppah and to good deeds.” The sequence of this blessing is revealing. Although the boy will likely perform acts of kindness prior to getting married, chuppah is mentioned first. Why?

Because the good deeds on accomplishes after proceeding to the chuppah are of a higher caliber, enhanced by a new lifestyle, intensified by a newfound capacity to care and share. Marriage promotes one’s relationship with G-d and with fellow human beings. Marriage is enriching to both body and soul.

Moreover, these two mitzvos, family purity and circumcision, are identified with two distinct expressions of happiness. The Talmud states that the verse, “I rejoice (sas) in Your word” (Tehillim 119:162), refers to the commandment of milah (Shabbos 130a). And when exempting a newlywed from army duty, the Torah instead commands him “to make his wife glad (vesimach)” (Devarim 24:5). These two expressions of happiness – sason and simcha – are also found in the last of the seven blessings, when we thank G-d, “Who created sason and simcha, chassan and kallah.”

Though these two words appear to be the same, the Vilna Gaon insists there is a distinction. Sason, the Gaon explains, is happiness that occurs when reflecting on the past, happiness that follows accomplishment. Simcha, on the other hand, occurs when looking toward the future, happiness that emanates from the anticipation of things to come.

My dear chassan and kallah, under the chuppah we also employ these two locutions: sason for the past, for the joy in the two of you finding each other, for everything that has led to and contributed to this moment; and simcha for the future, for the happy, productive life we are sure you will make together, and for the Torah home you will build to be a source of pride and inspiration for your families and community.