The Day of His Wedding - The Day of Matan Torah
By: Rav Kalman Ber
The final mishna in masechet Taanit concludes:
"Go forth and gaze, O daughters of Zion, upon King Solomon; upon the crown with which his mother crowned him, on His wedding day and on the day of His heart's joy." (Shir Hashirim 3:11) On His wedding day - this refers to [the day of] Matan Torah; on the day of His heart's joy - this refers to [the day of] the building of the Temple, may it be built speedily in our days, Amen.
Of all of the covenants that exist in human relationships, why was the covenant of marriage, "His wedding day," specifically chosen to represent the day of Matan Torah? What is the inner meaning behind this metaphor?
We can explain this symbolism based on an understanding of man's role in the world. "Asher bara Elokim laasot" - "which G-d created to do." (Bereishit 2:3) Man's role is to act and to do, to actualize and to express all of the ability latent within him. By doing so, he fulfills the purpose of his creation.
Maharal (Tiferet Yisrael ch. 3) explains that the name "Adam" reflects this role. Man is named based on his source, "adama" (earth). However, all of the animals were similarly created from the earth, so why was man uniquely designated to be called by this name? Maharal explains that man's qualities are identical to those of the earth. The earth has the potential to produce trees and plants, and the degree to which this potential will be realized depends on the amount of work that is invested in it. In exactly the same way, man has abilities hidden within him, and his job is to actualize them. this is not the case regarding the "beheimah" (animal), which is formed from the words "bah" and "mah" (in it is what). In an animal there is no element of potential and realization; whatever potential it has is already expressed in it. "A one day old ox is [already] called an ox." (B. Kamma 65b)
In this human endeavor, man and woman have distinct roles. Man's role is to plant the spiritual seed, to conceive the idea, but the development - the practical application of that idea - is primarily the domain of the woman. This is true from the moment of conception. Man contributes the seed, but the entire formation of the embryo is the role of the woman. This remains true throughout life: "Hear, my son, the discipline of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother." (Mishlei 1:8) The lesson of the father is heard, since his teaching is through speech, whereas the teaching of the mother is in the realm of action, "do not forsake." (See article of Maran Rosh Hayeshiva, zt"l, "Minashim Baohel Tevorach.") This is the meaning of Chazal's statement, "Extra `bina' was given to women." "Bina" is the ability to understand one idea from another, and women are generally superior in this regard.
We now understand why Matan Torah is symbolized by "His wedding day," since implicit in this image is the role of bride-wife that we accepted at Har Sinai. Our role is the same as that of a woman to her husband. It is to apply, to put into practice, the words of the Torah in this world of doing - to turn the Torah into a practical, living Torah. As we say in the bracha "Ahava Raba," "To observe and to do; to fulfill all the words of your Torah with love."
Conversely, when Am Yisrael abandons its role and does not fulfill its obligations as a "wife," Yirmiya says about us (3:3), "You had the brazenness of a harlot woman." We are like a bride-wife who does not fulfill her husband's will.
From this idea we can gain additional insight into an apparent paradox in the relationship between learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvot. On the one hand, Chazal comment on the verse, "All your desires cannot compare to it" (Mishlei 3:15) - even spiritual desires. The value of Torah is infinitely greater than even the value of mitzvot. On the other hand, when an opportunity for even a "light" mitzvah arises while learning, one must interrupt his learning and perform the mitzvah. (We do not apply in this situation the principle of "One who is actively involved in a mitzvah is exempt from having to fulfill another mitzvah.") However, based on what we have said, there is no paradox at all. The whole purpose of giving the Torah is to apply it in this world of action. "Learning is greater, since it leads to action." Therefore, whenever the opportunity to do arises, we immediately turn to fulfill that mitzvah.
Chazal expressed this idea concisely in their statement, "Anyone who learns Torah and does not observe it, it would have been better had his embryonic sac been overturned." (Tanhuma Eikev, 6) If the sac is overturned, the role of the woman is not accomplished at all, and only the man's role remains. Similarly, one who learns without observing mitzvot has fulfilled the man's role alone.
One who learns in order to observe, however, fulfills the purpose of his relationship with G-d, and produces fruit from it. "Praise a righteous person for he is good, for they shall eat the fruits of their deeds." (Yeshayah 3:10) These are the desired fruits of "the day of His wedding." "This teaches you that the main toldos of tzadikim are their good deeds." (Rashi to Bereishit 6:9)
"Our merciful father, have compassion on us, and give us the wisdom to understand and to comprehend; to hear, to learn and to teach, and to observe all of the words of your Torah with love." (From Birchot Kriat Shema)
Shiur ID: 3972