"The angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." Rabbi Chiya began by quoting: "House and riches are the inheritance of fathers" (Proverbs 19:14). How can they be the inheritance of fathers, as it is G‑d who gives a man all he has? G‑d gives a man a house and riches which he sometimes bequeaths to his son, for whom it is the inheritance of fathers. "But a prudent wife is from G‑d", for when a man merits a wife, he receives her [like an inheritance] only from G‑d, who gives her to him only after He made a proclamation throughout the firmament [for 40 days before the fetus is formed, a voice proclaims the couple].

For G‑d matches couples before they come into the world. [The first match is given to man as an inheritance and his wife is sent to give him success.] When a person merits to marry a woman, he is given that wife according to what he deserves, in accordance with his deeds, and all men's actions are revealed to G‑d. He matches couples according to their meritorious deeds.

Sometimes they are announced as a couple in Heaven but the man strayed from the right path and his announced spouse is given to another, until he rectifies his ways. If he does so by the time that was appointed for him to marry her, the other man is rejected and he comes to takes what is his. This is the most difficult task for G‑d, to push aside one man in favor of another. Therefore, it is G‑d who gives a wife to man, and by Him are couples formed. Hence, it says "but a prudent wife is from G‑d."

Hence, G‑d gives a man everything. If you say that a prudent wife and nothing else, come and see, G‑d prepares only goodness for men, but if the man turns from His ways to the Other Side, he will receive his due from the Other Side to which he attached, together with accusations and evils. He does not receive them from G‑d but from the evil side to which he attached because of his deeds.

Therefore Solomon says of a wife who is not prudent, "And I find more bitter than death the woman," (Ecclesiastes 7:26) for one draws her to himself by the sins and deeds he commits. Therefore, when G‑d takes pleasure in man because of his good deeds, He provides a prudent wife for him and she redeems him from the Other Side.

Jacob therefore said: "The angel who redeemed me from all evil." "From all evil" means that I was not provided with a wife from the Other Side, and that my children were not defective, but they were all righteous and complete to perfection since Jacob was redeemed from all evil and did not cleave at all to the Other Side.

Therefore the verse says "the angel who redeemed me from all evil."

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What is there to learn?

"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match". It would appear that all matches are made in Heaven, to some extent. For better, or for worse. The Zohar above seems to rely heavily on the principle of "deservedness": you make your own bed. Is it destiny for no discernible reason that one may marry an incompatible spouse and then — Heaven forfend!-- go through the agony of a bad marriage and subsequent divorce? Or are these life lessons given to us as gifts from G‑d to help us to perfect ourselves, learning from our miss-takes, and coming ever close to self and our G‑d.

Certainly as vessels for G‑d's flow we want to be complete containers, without disqualifying flaws or blemishes. But then again, we too need to break our hearts, not being so full of self that there is no room for G‑d. Are both ideas mutually exclusive?

No, they are not. If we do are best, align ourselves in a proper path, and pray for G‑d's guidance, then perhaps that silent still voice will lead us accordingly. Even if things seem astray, we can take comfort that all is in the hands of Heaven, save our reverence for that Heaven.

What does this mean to you, and why are you reading it now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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