“R’ Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: Anyone who benefits from the banquet of a bridegroom and does not gladden him, violates the spirit of the five sounds (‘kolot’) that were heard at Mount Sinai during Matan Torah….Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak said: he who gladdens the bride and bridegroom on the day of their wedding it is as if he built up one of the ruins of Yerushalayim” (Massechet Berachot 6b)
Of the seven berachot that are said under the chuppa, and throughout the subsequent week of festivities, two of them clearly connect between the wonderful occasion taking place and the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash.
It is also interesting to note that of all the minhagim relating to remembering the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash (listed by the Shulchan Aruch in Or Hachaim immediately after Hilchot Tisha BeAv), the most well known custom is the breaking of the glass under the chuppa.
From all of the sources quoted above, there seems to be a recurring connection between the concept of marriage and the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash.
It also seems a little strange that on the birth of a child we pray that the child merit, Torah, Chuppa and Maasim tovim. Is this order not a little strange? Surely one would wish for the newborn to aspire to good deeds (maasim tovim) at a young age and not only after their chuppa?
In order to answer all of the above questions, I would like to refer to the gemara in Yoma 9b. The gemara tells us that the first Mikdash was destroyed because the people were involved in three major sins – idolatry, murder, and immorality. The second Mikdash was destroyed because of ‘sinat chinam’ – pointless hate. The gemara concludes that we must therefore understand that sinat chinam is equal in its severity to those three cardinal sins.
What is the purpose of this equation? What is the message of the gemara? If I may, I would like to suggest that the three cardinal sins actually reflect the same basic societal problem.
The gemara in Sanhedrin (63b) tells us that that Israel knew that there was no truth in idolatry, however they used it in order to allow themselves to behave in an immoral fashion.
I think that we can support this gemara with a midrash that relates back to events in Ur Casdim and a dialogue that took place between Avrahan Avinu and Nimrod:
Having destroyed his father’s idols, Avraham was taken to Nimrod. Nimrod accused Avraham of destroying their gods, Avraham retorted: ‘you know as well as I do that stone is no god!’.
Nimrod suggested that fire was god, but Avraham replied that water extinguishes fire.
Nimrod suggested that water was god; Avraham replied that clouds contain water.
Nimrod suggested that clouds were god; Avraham replied that clouds are moved by the wind.
Nimrod suggested that wind was god; Avraham replied that man could contain wind.
Nimrod suggested that man was god.
This incredible midrash strengthens the suggestion of the gemara in Sanhedrin that idolatry, more often than not, is used in order to assist man in escaping his real commitments. Instead of dealing with reality, man simply changes his reality to suit him.
The essence of idolatry is therefore self-worship – man is god – he is the center of the world, everything must revolve around him.
The fundamental flaw of immorality is one and the same. Man proclaims – ‘I want it, therefore I must have it’. ‘I have a desire that desire must be satisfied – it is my right!’ It matters not how much damage will be done on the way. ‘I am the center of the world if there are consequences to my actions – so be it!’
Likewise murder reflects the action of a human being who sees himself as god, he can take life as he chooses in order to ensure that he succeeds in his plans, in order to relieve himself of his anger, in order to remove an ‘obstacle’.
So we could suggest that the gemara in Yoma is actually saying that in a society where idolatry, immorality and murder is the normative form of behavior, Hashem is not G-d to the people, they are god, they are the be all and end all of society, society must serve them. It is clear that in an atmosphere where man sees himself as god, there ‘is no room’ for the true G-d.
Similarly, sinat chinam that was predominant at the time of the second Mikdash, reflects the same basic fault in society. Sinat chinam is a direct consequence of selfishness, a direct result of man being totally involved in himself, his interests, his needs, his life.
I would like to suggest that the gemara in Yoma is not simply doing a symmetrical equation between the three cardinal sins and sinat chinam; it is informing us that even though externally the causes of destruction of the first and second Batai Mikdash appear to be different, they are in fact one and the same. The flaw that eventually leads to the three cardinal sins is the exact same flaw that leads to sinat chinam. When man is in the center, when man can see no further than himself, then man is in fact god – when this is the reality of society, there can be no Mikdash, because implicit in the definition of Mikdash is that Hashem is G-d, that Hashem is the center of everything, that we all look to Hashem, and that is what guides our lives.
We can now refer to the questions that we posed at the start of this shiur: What is the connection between marriage and Mikdash, that we see in the gemara in Berachot, in the Sheva Berachot, and in the breaking of the glass under the chuppa?
For marriage to succeed there must be selflessness. The aim of the bride and groom as they enter the chuppa, is to embark upon a journey that will eventually lead to the unification of their souls. As each year passes, as each obstacle is overcome together the couple slowly but surely merge into one. This is a process that takes a life time, but as it proceeds, man and women see less and less of themselves, and more and more of each other. Marriage is ahavat chinam, it is absolute love, it requires absolute commitment in every way, and it demands that we be selfless. It therefore seems obvious to me that marriage is the tikkun – the correction of the very flaw that brought about the destruction of the Mikdash.
Ahavat chinam corrects the flaw of sinat chinam, as we proceed in our married life, we become aware that we are not the be all and end all of this world, we become aware that there is someone else who must be looked after, and in time there are children that must be cared for.
Our souls are unified through marriage; they cannot be complete without marriage. Only this absolute form of giving can lead us to seeing that we are not the center of the world, and as soon as we can see that we are not in the center, then we will surely see that Hashem is in fact the center of the world. Then and only then will we be ready for the Bet Hamikdash to return. The Bet Hamikdash is not simply a beautiful building; it is a reality. It is a reality where Hashem almost physically dwells on earth, because the world, mankind as a whole sees Him as the center of the world.
To my mind we can now understand why a newborn baby is blessed to merit Torah, chuppa, and only afterwards maasim tovim. Before we marry we are also involved in good deeds, but we have not really learnt what true giving is. Before marriage, we live for ourselves; our entire existence revolves around our specific needs. There are surely many good acts that we do before we marry, however, once we have a basic Torah education, and once we are married and begin to learn what real selflessness is about, then our good deeds are of the purest level.
At the start of our parasha this week we are told three times within two verses that the Mishkan requires “Teruma” – it requires of us to give of ourselves in everyway, through body through soul, through our assets. The Mishkan can only exist with terumah, when we give of ourselves. Before we enter all of the many details regarding the structure and vessels of the Mishkan, we need to know first and foremost that the Mishkan is built with terumah. Only when man gives of himself freely, as much as he can, for the central cause. Only when man sees Hashem in the center, only then will we be zocheh to “Veshachanti betocha” – “I will dwell in her midst”.
Our efforts need to be on exactly that issue. How as a people we can become one; how we can relive the reality of Sinai, where the people encamped as one heart opposite the mount. In a society that is becoming increasingly selfish, where survival of the fittest is the word of the day – now more than ever we must emphasize the need for terumah, because it is terumah that will bring our redemption, when we see Hashem in the center of the world, when that is what drives us day and night, then that will surely be our reality.