Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There are many incredibly deep secrets regarding Zivugim
(coupling), both before and after marriage. None less than the
Rashash (Rabbi Shalom Sharabi) already taught us that the Avodah
(service) of Yom Kippur is the internal part of the system of Zivug,
while the union of husband a wife is the external part of that. Both
are two sides of the same coin.
Why is it so difficult to find one’s Zivug and so difficult to keep
it? And, more importantly, what can we learn from it from a
Kabbalistic point of view?
In the Gemarah Sotah 2a we find a very interesting discussion
about coupling. Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchak said in the name of
Reish Lakish that a man's Zivug is provided only according to his
merits. Namely, if a person is good, he gets a good match and vice-
versa. Rabah bar bar Chanah adds in the name of Rabbi Yochanan
that the provision of a Zivug is as difficult as the splitting of the Red
The Gemara then challenges Reish Lakish's position that
coupling is determined based on a person's merits from the
statement of Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav, who says that forty
days before the creation of the embryo a Bas Kol issues forth and
pronounces his Zivug ("Bas Ploni l'Ploni"). Why, if couples are
already determined based on Mazal (the Higher Providence), how
can it be determined based on one's deeds?
The solution to this conundrum is that the first marriage, the
one “as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea”, is based on Mazal (the
Higher Providence), while the second marriage, is based on a
Men and women were originally created as one soul. They are
thus very appropriately called “soulmates”, because they come from
the same spiritual source. Before the giving of the Torah, it was
perfectly fine to marry one’s brother or sister. After the Torah was
given, the souls were scattered to be born from different mothers,
and the union of brother and sister was forbidden.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev’s also taught us that no one truly
understands the concept of Zivugim because it’s so deep. A story is
brought from the Talmud and Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 68:4 where a
certain princess asked Rabbi Yosi ben Chalafta “what has God been
doing since the creation of the world?”. He replied that “he sits and
makes zivugim”. Unconvinced, she said she could do better than Him
and tried coupling 1000 slaves and 1000 maidservants. The result
was catastrophic, some men lost their eye, some their leg, some
suffered severe wounds and so on. The pricess was then convinced
that only Hashem can join a man and a woman.
As we discussed in previous articles, Hashem created many
spiritual worlds through which Shefa (abundant flow) passes until it
reaches our physical world. Rabbi Chaim Shmuel Dweik HaKohen,
the “Sadeh” who was a disciple of the Rashash commented on Otzrot
Chaim that no Shefa comes down unless the masculine and feminine
attributes of Hashem’s Divine Providence unite. To explain: Hashem
is obviously one, but the many attributes that He displays can be
classified as being either of a masculine or feminine nature.
The Kabbalistic ramifications are many and we could write
many books about it.
When a couple unites, not only do they bring spiritual blessings
but also material ones. While according to Halacha, intimacy is
permitted any day of the week, according to Kabbalah (The Arizal),
couples should only do so on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and some
Yamim Tovim (Pesach except the first day and Sukkot, but not on
Shmini Atzeret, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Shavuot). The Arizal
explains that this is because the quintessential reason for the sin of
Adam and Eve was because they were intimate before the first
Shabbat entered. This caused the snake to gain a foothold and tempt
Eve to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Therefore, couples are enjoined to be intimate only the forces of
impurity (like the snake) are repelled by the holy days, at appointed
times. One can’t overstate the importance of this minhag, as this also
heavily impacts on the spiritual and physical health of children that
will come as a result of their union.
One of the reasons coupling is as difficult as the splitting of the
Red Sea is because that is the ultimate test of Emunah. Consider that
before the marriage, spouses know less than 1% about each other.
The remaining part of what a person fully is will be discovered only
throughout the rest of their lives (hopefully!). Just like the Children of
Israel were afraid to jump in the Sea, so too it is normal to be afraid
to “jump in” marriage with someone we know little about.
Therefore marrying could be called a big “risk” that Hashem is
requesting of us. Not only that, but it’s also where a man’s Kedusha
(holiness is made apparent to the world). A happy, peaceful and
prosperous home requires tremendous Mesirut Nefesh (self-
sacrifice) but it is what truly makes men and women fulfilled.
The sages teach us that Hashem didn’t “find” any vessel strong
enough to contain all the blessings he could bestow, except for peace.
And peace is not simply the absence of strife, but the union of
opposites joining together for a common goal. Marriage is therefore
the greatest test we face in life and, in fact, the ultimate purpose of
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!