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Successful spiritual travels remain rooted in a focus on the holy.

Ascent to the City

Ascent to the City

Successful spiritual travels remain rooted in a focus on the holy.

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After the wedding…the emphasis is to spread holiness outward….

Rabbi Isaac Ginsburgh explained the difference between life before and after marriage: Before the wedding, the bride and groom can easily grow "vertically", approaching G‑d's Essence, taking on new levels at will. After the wedding, when the two souls are united, it is not so easy to grow "vertically". The emphasis is to spread holiness outward, as opposed to personal elevation; the growth is "horizontal", touching the world with G‑dliness through all of the new mitzvahs the couple can now fulfill that were unavailable to them before. Where do they get the strength to fulfill all of these new mitzvahs?

Jewish custom is that the Shabbat before his wedding, the groom is called up to the Torah, called an "aliyah". The word "aliyah" literally means to ascend. It is a Chasidic tradition that only then, during this state of spiritual elevation, is the groom invested with the strength to be a married person. A similar transformation happens to the bride at the "bedekin", when a veil is placed on her face, just prior to the wedding ceremony.

The community celebrates this event with a Kiddush, which serves to escort the young man on his way to his new station in life. Likewise, from that Shabbat until the wedding, the bride and groom are always accompanied by another person, as a form of protection. Also, during the week following the wedding, the bride and groom are both always escorted as one honors a king and queen to their every destination.

….may our escorting them create an eternal spiritual connection….

Similarly, as part of the mitzvah of hospitality, not only should we provide food and lodging for a guest, we should also escort him some small distance when leaving our home. Even in the world at large, it is customary to escort someone going on a long or important journey at least part of the way. What is the significance of escorting someone?

The Shelah connects the idea of escorting someone with this week's Torah portion. The Jewish nation is called "Knesset Yisrael". "Knesset" means a gathering and refers to the special power of the Jewish people, who are gathered together and united on a soul level. This special unity gives us a secure position before the Almighty in His divine palace, which is also called the "heavenly city".

There is a spiritual state, called "outside", relating to the verse: "Esau, man of the field" (Gen. 25:27). Anytime a Jewish person leaves the security of one spiritual level, he moves out of the spiritually developed "city", into the limbo of the wilder "field". In the field, all routes are considered dangerous, because a person is tapping into the dimension of Esau and his field. This is the basis for travelers or guests to be escorted by loved ones or hosts, to strengthen their ongoing connection to the spiritual security of the "city". Even if a person in transit is physically separated from the "city", his soul is still connected. Since he is still in the "city" in a spiritual way, no danger can befall him.

Through this, Esau's field is transformed to the holy field of Isaac, as it says, "Isaac went out to meditate in the field" (Gen. 24:63) and that Isaac smelled "the fragrance of the field blessed by G‑d", on Jacob. This is the holy apple field which the Zohar describes, and which the Sages say is actually the Garden of Eden. From the above, we understand the importance of the mitzvah to escort someone physically on their journey. This is also why the Rabbis emphasized thinking Torah thoughts when traveling, because this also connects us to the divine "city". 

As a bride and groom leave the security of their family homes and move into their status as an independent couple, may our escorting them create an eternal spiritual connection to the divine city, protecting them and nurturing them wherever they go. So too, wherever each of us go, may we maintain our connection to the Source.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul


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