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Harav Ginsburgh and Harav Arush

[Translator’s note: the key word in this article is ?????????? which generally refers to “sincerity” (Yiddish: ehrnstkeit). Since it has a number of different nuances it has been translated variably here as “sincere, buy ” “simple, decease ” “innocent” or “naïve” depending on the context. Similarly, ???????? has been translated as “wisdom” or “shrewdness.” For the original Hebrew article, see here]

Wisdom vs. Shrewdness

Where does a Breslover chassid and a Chabad-Lubavitch chassid meet? Those of us who are familiar with these two distinct paths of Chassidut know that usually a Chabadnik (follower of Chabad) and a Breslover (follower of Breslov) have two very different character types. For example, utilizing the intellectual faculties of the mind in long, profound, and meticulous meditation is one of the fundamental principles of Chabad. This is the approach emphasized by the founder of Chabad Chassidut, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. Indeed, the initials of the words “wisdom” (???????), “understanding” (???????) and “knowledge” (??????) spell out the name by which this Chassidut is called, “Chabad” (??”?).

In contrast, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov offers a dire warning, “For in truth, one needs to actually eliminate the intellect, for one should discard all intellectual pursuits and serve God simply.” [1] “The fundamental goal and the perfected state is only to serve God with absolute sincerity, without any shrewdness.” [2] In Rebbe Nachman’s Tales of Old, in his “Tale of a Shrewd Man and a Simpleton,” he glowingly depicts the virtues of the simpleton who has a lowly, unsophisticated intellect, behaves with utmost sincerity and is happy with his lot. By contrast, the shrewd man researches and studies everything, but is a surly and irritable fellow. He gets so wrapped up in his hypercritical analysis until eventually he is condemned to the bitter results of his own critique. The simpleton, who is depicted as being ingenuously optimistic and cheerful, is eventually appointed as the state’s governor who is loved by everyone.

So, there appears to be an inherent contradiction between Rebbe Nachman’s approach and that of Rabbi Schneur Zalman. However, when we deepen our contemplation further, we begin to see where these two paths meet [just as these two tzadikim (righteous persons) lived during the same period and even met with each other in practice].

Overturning the Seder Plate

In actual practice, sincerity is also given top rating in Chabad. This is particularly apparent in the writings of the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber. He was an outstanding intellectual scholar of Chassidut, but he was also the one who brought the teachings of Chassidut down into a systemized order. Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber is so known for this aspect of his teachings that he is referred to as “The Rambam of Chassidut”; a reference to Maimonides who systemized the legal dimension of the Torah in his magnum opus, Mishneh Torah.

Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber’s son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, related that at the Passover seder, when they reached the recital of the four sons in the Haggadah, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber would soundly reprove the wise son with harsh criticism, while praising the simple son (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak related that, as a child, he would be afraid to sit next to his father, because he thought that his father’s criticism of the wise son was directed at him…).

Obviously, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber agreed with the accepted interpretation of the four sons in the Haggadah, according to which the wise son stands in opposition to the wicked son, but is nonetheless righteous. But as a short-term lesson, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber saw fit to “overturn the seder plate” (as it were), to emphasize the Chassidic idea that the wise son is somehow “seated” opposite, or in opposition to, the simple son. According to the arrangement of the four sons according to Chassidut, the simple son should be seen as the righteous son, and the wise son is just another type of wicked son. This unique and startling interpretation was made in order to stress the imminent danger of the Haskalah (“Enlightenment”) Movement which threatened to completely uproot Judaism from its source.

The Yeshivah for Sincere Students

Even in his Chassidic writings, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber explains with profound intensity the importance of the quality of sincerity and how it is supreme to all other qualities. He used to say that the closer the generations come to the final redemption, the more they need to acquire the quality of sincerity. Above all else, sincerity will be the only quality we need to overcome the difficulties during the time that directly precedes the redemption. Indeed, one of Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber’s most important enterprises was the establishment of an education system, which he named “Tomchei Temimim” (????????? ?????????), which literally means the “Supporters of the Sincere.” Each student that attends the yeshivah is likewise referred to as a “tamim” (sincere one), because whoever enters this yeshivah to study Torah must acquire the quality of sincerity together with his Torah studies.[3]

Simple, but not Brainless

Although sharp-intelligence is the general approach of Chabad, this approach to the study of Chassidut also recognizes the importance of simple sincerity. So too, Rebbe Nachman values wisdom (and he himself was very intelligent), but in general emphasizes simple sincerity. Indeed, in his “Tale of a Shrewd Man and a Simpleton,” the simpleton has an “unsophisticated and low-level” intellect, in order to emphasize the fact that even without a brilliant talent the innocent wisdom of the simpleton is preferable to the profound wisdom of the shrewd man. However, this does not mean that someone who is blessed with a sharp mind should act as if he is stupid. Rebbe Nachman’s simpleton is referring to someone who is sincere and guileless, not to someone who is unintelligent.

To understand who the praiseworthy simpleton is, let’s take a look at the type of wise person we oppose. Let’s not forget that in the Torah, a wise person is depicted as something very positive. In fact, wisdom is the most precious attribute of all.[4] But here, we are not referring to a wise sage, but to a “wise-guy”; the “know-it-all” whose wisdom has become his impediment, as the Talmud[5] states, “The greater one’s wisdom, the greater he is misguided.” Instead of using simple common-sense, a quick mind may easily become warped. This is what happened to the shrewd man in the “Tale of the Shrewd Man and the Simpleton,” and this is the type of wisdom that Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber at the seder table wished to do away with. In this tale, the shrewd man questions everything, so much so that when the king sends for him, he questions the king’s very existence. The modern-day allegory is clear: this is referring to the “shrewd” scientist who stubbornly claims that there is no judgment and no Judge to the world.

In contrast to the shrewd wise-guy, the simpleton is not as dumb as he looks. We cannot accuse Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber of wanting to educate his yeshivah to produce brainless “simpletons.” He was extremely intelligent himself, and studying his Chassidic writings demands a high level of intellectual effort. In fact, there is a sharp Chassidic saying which Chabadniks quote in the name of the Ba’al Shem Tov, that “the first mitzvah is to be intelligent and to be stupid is a Torah prohibition…” However, a truly sincere person recoils from quick minded wise-guy skepticism. He has honest common-sense and a healthy intuition that hits the mark, even when his knowledge is not particularly broad, and he doesn’t have such a quick mind (which is a gift that not everyone is entitled to). The sincere person’s wisdom flourishes on his faith and his sincerity is more precious to him than complex critique. It was this type of sincere student that Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber wished to cultivate. The simple tamim who is not stupid in the least, but who also does not allow his wisdom to damage his sincerity and innocence. In this way, Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber’s tamim is similar to the simpleton in Rebbe Nachman’s tale.

In short: the goal is to be an intelligent person who retains his sincerity and honest common-sense.

Let’s not be too naïve though, there is still a difference between the teachings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman and Rebbe Nachman. Nonetheless, they are both unanimous in their agreement that sincerity comes first. Indeed, this is what the Torah commands us explicitly, “Be sincere with Havayah your God.”[6] In the Torah portion of Toldot, sincerity is the first and most significant title that Jacob receives, “And the boys grew up and Esau became a man who knows hunting, a man of the field, and Jacob was a sincere man, who dwelt in tents.”[7] Jacob thus joins two of the previous figures in the Book of Genesis—Noah and Abraham—who are both associated with the quality of sincerity, as the verses state, “Noah was a righteous man, he was sincere in his generation”[8] and God told Abraham, “Walk before Me and be sincere.”

Natural Innocence

The most superior type of sincerity—innocent sincerity—comes naturally. The naturally innocent person is not even aware of the fact that he is innocent; that is just the way he is. He is innocent to the core, and he does not need to be taught what innocence is. All of us were young and innocent as children, but there are those who retain their innocence throughout their adult lives. Even when they grow up and become acquainted with the world at large, and acquire a great deal of wisdom and knowledge, nonetheless they don’t lose their childhood innocence.

We can learn about “natural innocence” by contemplating the verses referring to our Matriarch Sarah’s life. In the previous Torah portion, after she passed away, the Torah writes, “And Sarah’s life was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years.”[9] The sages explain that at twenty years old she had the beauty of a seven-year-old girl.[10] Yet, at first glance, this interpretation does not seem to be appropriate, for the beauty of a twenty-year old woman is far more outstanding than the beauty of a seven-year-old child! But we learn from this that the beauty of a seven year old is preferable because it relates to the natural, innocent beauty of a young girl who is unaware of her beauty. Sarah’s praise was thus not only for her actual beauty, but that she retained her innocent beauty throughout her entire life. Even when she looked in the mirror, she was not affected by her looks, and didn’t care whether or not she was the “fairest of them all”…

Usually, the more one is self-aware?the self-conscious state that came as a result of eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?the more he loses his innate sense of sincere and natural innocence, as the verse states, “The more one knows, the more it hurts.”[11] Right now, our task is to work on our own lost quality of innocence, and to reacquire and reintegrate it into our psyches until it once again becomes our natural perspective on life.

This is something that both Rabbi Schneur Zalman—founder of Chabad, and Rebbe Nachman—founder of Breslov, most definitely agree with!

From Rabbi Ginsburgh’s class to women, Kfar Chabad, 20 Cheshvan 5774


[1] Likutei Moharan II, 5.

[2] Ibid 19.

[3]  In fact, the Torah itself is called sincere, “God’s Torah is sincere” (Psalms 19:8).

[4] As the book of Proverbs depicts quite clearly in numerous verses.

[5] Baba Metzia 96b.

[6] Deuteronomy 18:13.

[7] Genesis 25:27.

[8] Ibid 6:9.

[9] Ibid 23:1.

[10] See Ibid, Rashi ad loc.; Bereishit Rabah 58:1. The interpretation brought here on innocent beauty can be found in Sefer Pardes Yosef in the name of the author of Yeshuot Malko.

[11] Ecclesiastes 1:18.

Matchmaker, look Matchmaker…

Anyone who deals with matchmaking will eventually have to tackle this question: Is it a better idea to make a match between a girl and a boy who are similar in character or do matches between sharply contrasting characters— who complement one another and are drawn to one another like opposite poles of a magnet—have a greater chance of being successful?

In practice, rx the answer to this question depends on who makes the match: In places where the match is managed mostly by the couple’s parents, shop the inclination is to make every effort to match like with like. In places where the younger generation initiates their own relationships and decides whom they will marry, we find many instances of opposites being attracted to one another.

These two types of matches are also characterized by different customs related to writing wedding invitations. On the one hand, there are those who write, “You are cordially invited to the wedding of our children… [name of the groom] with the girl of his age (??? ???? ???????), [name of the bride],” which refers not only to the groom and bride’s age in years, but also to the general similarity between them[1]; like grafting one grapevine to another. On the other hand, there are those who write, “We are happy to invite you… [name of groom] with his heart’s choice (??? ????????? ??????), [name of bride].” Whereas the former type refers to a marriage between similars, the latter refers to a type of marriage in which the two partners may be very different from one another. Nonetheless, this is exactly what bonds them together.

Jacob Chooses a Wife

Jacob received a farewell blessing from his parents, but he left home entirely alone. It is he who chooses a wife for himself, without even one phone call from his worried parents (apparently there was no reception in Charan). Jacob’s choice of Rachel as a wife was entirely “his heart’s choice.” As the verse states, even before they were married, “And Jacob loved Rachel.”[2] Their relationship began literally with love at first sight. But Jacob’s parents, Isaac and Rebecca, had never set eyes on Rachel before they married, and Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, was not happy with his choice at all. Instead, Laban exchanged Rachel for Leah, against Jacob’s will and without any prior notification.

Let’s think for a moment, which sister is more similar to Jacob? Rachel is “beautiful of form, with beautiful looks.”[3] She is an active character, who goes out alone to shepherd the flocks. Leah, by contrast, is an introverted, somewhat isolated character. Although she is the older sister, she does not go out to shepherd the flocks but stays at home. Instead, she has time for her thoughtful reflections and tears, as the Torah states, “And Leah’s eyes were soft [with tears].”[4] There is something about Leah that is more similar to Jacob, the “sincere man who sits in tents.”[5] Even when we look at the generation of Jacob’s sons, we see that most of the spiritual significance that we associate with Jacob appears in Leah’s sons throughout the generations: the Levites and the Kohanim (Priests) descend from Levi; the Torah was given via Moses, who was also a Levite; and the royal family descends from Judah. In contrast, Rachel’s sons receive secondary importance, so much so that a significant portion of them were even detached for a prolonged period of time from the Jewish Nation (during the exile of the ten tribes).

Two Worlds Meet

According to Kabbalah, the match between Jacob and Leah is higher than that of Jacob and Rachel. Leah is called “the Concealed World” and Rachel is called “the Revealed World.” Leah represents the realm of thought, while Rachel represents the realm of speech. Jacob’s soul had a very profound hidden root that was identical to Leah’s, which he highlighted and reinforced on his way from Canaan to Charan. In the middle of this journey, he spent fourteen years studying Torah in the study hall of Shem and Ever. But, after the time spent there, he left to continue to Charan. There in Charan he came into contact with the harsh reality of the outside world, and had to cope with swindlers and enemies. As a result of needing to confront outer reality, Jacob was also outside his inner core or element. This is why he did not find anything particularly attractive about Leah.

But, just as Jacob was a “sincere man who dwells in tents,” Leah also dwelled in the “tent” of her own home. She was the one more likely to be considered as his sister, or his chevruta (study partner), and there was nothing exciting about her he could write home about. If his parents had been in the picture, they might well have made the match between Jacob and Leah, but now he followed his heart, which was naturally attracted towards Rachel. She had something about her that he found attractive, something that he could become enthusiastic about and fall in love with; marriage to her is an adventure into a new domain.

Nonetheless, Jacob still needs to marry Leah, as well as Rachel. One might say that instead of his parents, Divine Providence takes advantage of Laban’s devious scheming to effect Jacob’s marriage to Leah. Retroactively, Jacob understands?and we also realize?that Leah is also his perfect match, because she is a “girl of his age.” The source of Jacob’s connection with Leah is not from the heart; rather, it is a profound intellectual relationship that needs to be acknowledged, nurtured and appreciated, even if the natural flow of things does not initially lead to Jacob wanting to marry her.

Quite the contrary, it seems that the novel idea here is in the Torah’s approval of Jacob following his heart. Usually, the Torah’s attitude is to be suspicious of the heart’s natural tendencies, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth,”[6] “his heart’s thoughts are directed to evil all day.” Indeed, if we let an evil person follow his heart, we’re in deep trouble! But, Jacob is a tzadik, a righteous man whose heart desires only good things, “the desire of the righteous is only good.”[7] Therefore Jacob could rely on his heart, to decide with complete certainty that Rachel should be the mainstay and more prominent figure of his home. This approach holds fast even after Leah gives birth to more sons than Rachel. Throughout it all, Rachel remained Jacob’s most esteemed wife.

Rachel Redeems

Yet, matchmaking is not the only issue here. In a broader sense, Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel constitute the entire story of the Jewish People—the Children of Israel (Jacob’s other name)—and also how we relate to the Almighty.

Jacob’s relationship with Leah is what we might call a normal religious lifestyle. Most of us don’t study Torah and perform mitzvot because we have a natural instinct to do so. However, we do understand intellectually that this is the lifestyle that suits us as Jews, and this is the golden path that our forefathers trod. Religious Jews also know that they need to subdue their attraction to foreign paths and to annul their will to serve God’s will.[8] In Chassidic terminology, this is the service that belongs to “Leah’s persona” (????????? ?????).

In contrast, the relationship between Jacob and Rachel is a natural lifestyle. At first glance, we might think that a natural lifestyle does not express any connection with God. One can eat, drink, sleep, love or hike naturally, but all this is part of our secular life. But, the moment we touch on the realm of sanctity, it appears that those natural instincts just don’t want to cooperate; we can only hope that they don’t interfere too much with our endeavors towards the Divine! Nonetheless, we are convinced that we also have an innate Jewish nature that goes beyond our natural instincts. That profound level of our Jewish nature is simply and naturally in love with the Almighty. This is despite the infinite distance there is between us, as the verse states “God is in the heavens, and you are on earth.”[9] In fact, it is this very same chasm that causes the attractive pull between two complete opposites who ultimately complement each other. This is one reason why Chassidut explains that the main part of the redemption is “reconstructing Rachel’s persona” (???????? ????????? ?????), which ultimately refers to the revelation of a natural Jewish consciousness. This level of consciousness not only observes the Torah and performs mitzvot—because “that’s what we should do”—but because that is what our heart genuinely desires.

So we can follow our hearts if we are righteous, and in fact, the entire Jewish nation are called a “nation of tzadikim (righteous people),” and in the future we will all merit to act according to our rectified natural Jewish consciousness.

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s books in Hebrew, Rucho Shel Mashiach and Mechol Hakeramim



[1]  “Age” (?????) can also refer to “fortune” (?????).

[2]  Genesis 29:18.

[3] Ibid 29:17.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid 25:27.  In fact, the word “tent” (???) is a permutation of the letters of “Leah” (???).

[6] Ibid 8:21.

[7] Proverbs 11:23.

[8] Avot 2:4.

[9] Ecclesiastes 5:1.

Matchmaker, sale Matchmaker…

Anyone who deals with matchmaking will eventually have to tackle this question: Is it a better idea to make a match between a girl and a boy who are similar in character or do matches between sharply contrasting characters— who complement one another and are drawn to one another like opposite poles of a magnet—have a greater chance of being successful?

In practice, shop
the answer to this question depends on who makes the match: In places where the match is managed mostly by the couple’s parents, the inclination is to make every effort to match like with like. In places where the younger generation initiates their own relationships and decides whom they will marry, we find many instances of opposites being attracted to one another.

These two types of matches are also characterized by different customs related to writing wedding invitations. On the one hand, there are those who write, “You are cordially invited to the wedding of our children… [name of the groom] with the girl of his age (??? ???? ???????), [name of the bride],” which refers not only to the groom and bride’s age in years, but also to the general similarity between them[1]; like grafting one grapevine to another. On the other hand, there are those who write, “We are happy to invite you… [name of groom] with his heart’s choice (??? ????????? ??????), [name of bride].” Whereas the former type refers to a marriage between similars, the latter refers to a type of marriage in which the two partners may be very different from one another. Nonetheless, this is exactly what bonds them together.

Jacob Chooses a Wife

Jacob received a farewell blessing from his parents, but he left home entirely alone. It is he who chooses a wife for himself, without even one phone call from his worried parents (apparently there was no reception in Charan). Jacob’s choice of Rachel as a wife was entirely “his heart’s choice.” As the verse states, even before they were married, “And Jacob loved Rachel.”[2] Their relationship began literally with love at first sight. But Jacob’s parents, Isaac and Rebecca, had never set eyes on Rachel before they married, and Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, was not happy with his choice at all. Instead, Laban exchanged Rachel for Leah, against Jacob’s will and without any prior notification.

Let’s think for a moment, which sister is more similar to Jacob? Rachel is “beautiful of form, with beautiful looks.”[3] She is an active character, who goes out alone to shepherd the flocks. Leah, by contrast, is an introverted, somewhat isolated character. Although she is the older sister, she does not go out to shepherd the flocks but stays at home. Instead, she has time for her thoughtful reflections and tears, as the Torah states, “And Leah’s eyes were soft [with tears].”[4] There is something about Leah that is more similar to Jacob, the “sincere man who sits in tents.”[5] Even when we look at the generation of Jacob’s sons, we see that most of the spiritual significance that we associate with Jacob appears in Leah’s sons throughout the generations: the Levites and the Kohanim (Priests) descend from Levi; the Torah was given via Moses, who was also a Levite; and the royal family descends from Judah. In contrast, Rachel’s sons receive secondary importance, so much so that a significant portion of them were even detached for a prolonged period of time from the Jewish Nation (during the exile of the ten tribes).

Two Worlds Meet

According to Kabbalah, the match between Jacob and Leah is higher than that of Jacob and Rachel. Leah is called “the Concealed World” and Rachel is called “the Revealed World.” Leah represents the realm of thought, while Rachel represents the realm of speech. Jacob’s soul had a very profound hidden root that was identical to Leah’s, which he highlighted and reinforced on his way from Canaan to Charan. In the middle of this journey, he spent fourteen years studying Torah in the study hall of Shem and Ever. But, after the time spent there, he left to continue to Charan. There in Charan he came into contact with the harsh reality of the outside world, and had to cope with swindlers and enemies. As a result of needing to confront outer reality, Jacob was also outside his inner core or element. This is why he did not find anything particularly attractive about Leah.

But, just as Jacob was a “sincere man who dwells in tents,” Leah also dwelled in the “tent” of her own home. She was the one more likely to be considered as his sister, or his chevruta (study partner), and there was nothing exciting about her he could write home about. If his parents had been in the picture, they might well have made the match between Jacob and Leah, but now he followed his heart, which was naturally attracted towards Rachel. She had something about her that he found attractive, something that he could become enthusiastic about and fall in love with; marriage to her is an adventure into a new domain.

Nonetheless, Jacob still needs to marry Leah, as well as Rachel. One might say that instead of his parents, Divine Providence takes advantage of Laban’s devious scheming to effect Jacob’s marriage to Leah. Retroactively, Jacob understands?and we also realize?that Leah is also his perfect match, because she is a “girl of his age.” The source of Jacob’s connection with Leah is not from the heart; rather, it is a profound intellectual relationship that needs to be acknowledged, nurtured and appreciated, even if the natural flow of things does not initially lead to Jacob wanting to marry her.

Quite the contrary, it seems that the novel idea here is in the Torah’s approval of Jacob following his heart. Usually, the Torah’s attitude is to be suspicious of the heart’s natural tendencies, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth,”[6] “his heart’s thoughts are directed to evil all day.” Indeed, if we let an evil person follow his heart, we’re in deep trouble! But, Jacob is a tzadik, a righteous man whose heart desires only good things, “the desire of the righteous is only good.”[7] Therefore Jacob could rely on his heart, to decide with complete certainty that Rachel should be the mainstay and more prominent figure of his home. This approach holds fast even after Leah gives birth to more sons than Rachel. Throughout it all, Rachel remained Jacob’s most esteemed wife.

Rachel Redeems

Yet, matchmaking is not the only issue here. In a broader sense, Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel constitute the entire story of the Jewish People—the Children of Israel (Jacob’s other name)—and also how we relate to the Almighty.

Jacob’s relationship with Leah is what we might call a normal religious lifestyle. Most of us don’t study Torah and perform mitzvot because we have a natural instinct to do so. However, we do understand intellectually that this is the lifestyle that suits us as Jews, and this is the golden path that our forefathers trod. Religious Jews also know that they need to subdue their attraction to foreign paths and to annul their will to serve God’s will.[8] In Chassidic terminology, this is the service that belongs to “Leah’s persona” (????????? ?????).

In contrast, the relationship between Jacob and Rachel is a natural lifestyle. At first glance, we might think that a natural lifestyle does not express any connection with God. One can eat, drink, sleep, love or hike naturally, but all this is part of our secular life. But, the moment we touch on the realm of sanctity, it appears that those natural instincts just don’t want to cooperate; we can only hope that they don’t interfere too much with our endeavors towards the Divine! Nonetheless, we are convinced that we also have an innate Jewish nature that goes beyond our natural instincts. That profound level of our Jewish nature is simply and naturally in love with the Almighty. This is despite the infinite distance there is between us, as the verse states “God is in the heavens, and you are on earth.”[9] In fact, it is this very same chasm that causes the attractive pull between two complete opposites who ultimately complement each other. This is one reason why Chassidut explains that the main part of the redemption is “reconstructing Rachel’s persona” (???????? ????????? ?????), which ultimately refers to the revelation of a natural Jewish consciousness. This level of consciousness not only observes the Torah and performs mitzvot—because “that’s what we should do”—but because that is what our heart genuinely desires.

So we can follow our hearts if we are righteous, and in fact, the entire Jewish nation are called a “nation of tzadikim (righteous people),” and in the future we will all merit to act according to our rectified natural Jewish consciousness.

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s books in Hebrew, Rucho Shel Mashiach and Mechol Hakeramim



[1]  “Age” (?????) can also refer to “fortune” (?????).

[2]  Genesis 29:18.

[3] Ibid 29:17.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid 25:27.  In fact, the word “tent” (???) is a permutation of the letters of “Leah” (???).

[6] Ibid 8:21.

[7] Proverbs 11:23.

[8] Avot 2:4.

[9] Ecclesiastes 5:1.

Matchmaker, see Matchmaker…

Anyone who deals with matchmaking will eventually have to tackle this question: Is it a better idea to make a match between a girl and a boy who are similar in character or do matches between sharply contrasting characters— who complement one another and are drawn to one another like opposite poles of a magnet—have a greater chance of being successful?

In practice, doctor the answer to this question depends on who makes the match: In places where the match is managed mostly by the couple’s parents, stuff the inclination is to make every effort to match like with like. In places where the younger generation initiates their own relationships and decides whom they will marry, we find many instances of opposites being attracted to one another.

These two types of matches are also characterized by different customs related to writing wedding invitations. On the one hand, there are those who write, “You are cordially invited to the wedding of our children… [name of the groom] with the girl of his age (??? ???? ???????), [name of the bride],” which refers not only to the groom and bride’s age in years, but also to the general similarity between them[1]; like grafting one grapevine to another. On the other hand, there are those who write, “We are happy to invite you… [name of groom] with his heart’s choice (??? ????????? ??????), [name of bride].” Whereas the former type refers to a marriage between similars, the latter refers to a type of marriage in which the two partners may be very different from one another. Nonetheless, this is exactly what bonds them together.

Jacob Chooses a Wife

Jacob received a farewell blessing from his parents, but he left home entirely alone. It is he who chooses a wife for himself, without even one phone call from his worried parents (apparently there was no reception in Charan). Jacob’s choice of Rachel as a wife was entirely “his heart’s choice.” As the verse states, even before they were married, “And Jacob loved Rachel.”[2] Their relationship began literally with love at first sight. But Jacob’s parents, Isaac and Rebecca, had never set eyes on Rachel before they married, and Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, was not happy with his choice at all. Instead, Laban exchanged Rachel for Leah, against Jacob’s will and without any prior notification.

Let’s think for a moment, which sister is more similar to Jacob? Rachel is “beautiful of form, with beautiful looks.”[3] She is an active character, who goes out alone to shepherd the flocks. Leah, by contrast, is an introverted, somewhat isolated character. Although she is the older sister, she does not go out to shepherd the flocks but stays at home. Instead, she has time for her thoughtful reflections and tears, as the Torah states, “And Leah’s eyes were soft [with tears].”[4] There is something about Leah that is more similar to Jacob, the “sincere man who sits in tents.”[5] Even when we look at the generation of Jacob’s sons, we see that most of the spiritual significance that we associate with Jacob appears in Leah’s sons throughout the generations: the Levites and the Kohanim (Priests) descend from Levi; the Torah was given via Moses, who was also a Levite; and the royal family descends from Judah. In contrast, Rachel’s sons receive secondary importance, so much so that a significant portion of them were even detached for a prolonged period of time from the Jewish Nation (during the exile of the ten tribes).

Two Worlds Meet

According to Kabbalah, the match between Jacob and Leah is higher than that of Jacob and Rachel. Leah is called “the Concealed World” and Rachel is called “the Revealed World.” Leah represents the realm of thought, while Rachel represents the realm of speech. Jacob’s soul had a very profound hidden root that was identical to Leah’s, which he highlighted and reinforced on his way from Canaan to Charan. In the middle of this journey, he spent fourteen years studying Torah in the study hall of Shem and Ever. But, after the time spent there, he left to continue to Charan. There in Charan he came into contact with the harsh reality of the outside world, and had to cope with swindlers and enemies. As a result of needing to confront outer reality, Jacob was also outside his inner core or element. This is why he did not find anything particularly attractive about Leah.

But, just as Jacob was a “sincere man who dwells in tents,” Leah also dwelled in the “tent” of her own home. She was the one more likely to be considered as his sister, or his chevruta (study partner), and there was nothing exciting about her he could write home about. If his parents had been in the picture, they might well have made the match between Jacob and Leah, but now he followed his heart, which was naturally attracted towards Rachel. She had something about her that he found attractive, something that he could become enthusiastic about and fall in love with; marriage to her is an adventure into a new domain.

Nonetheless, Jacob still needs to marry Leah, as well as Rachel. One might say that instead of his parents, Divine Providence takes advantage of Laban’s devious scheming to effect Jacob’s marriage to Leah. Retroactively, Jacob understands?and we also realize?that Leah is also his perfect match, because she is a “girl of his age.” The source of Jacob’s connection with Leah is not from the heart; rather, it is a profound intellectual relationship that needs to be acknowledged, nurtured and appreciated, even if the natural flow of things does not initially lead to Jacob wanting to marry her.

Quite the contrary, it seems that the novel idea here is in the Torah’s approval of Jacob following his heart. Usually, the Torah’s attitude is to be suspicious of the heart’s natural tendencies, “The inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth,”[6] “his heart’s thoughts are directed to evil all day.” Indeed, if we let an evil person follow his heart, we’re in deep trouble! But, Jacob is a tzadik, a righteous man whose heart desires only good things, “the desire of the righteous is only good.”[7] Therefore Jacob could rely on his heart, to decide with complete certainty that Rachel should be the mainstay and more prominent figure of his home. This approach holds fast even after Leah gives birth to more sons than Rachel. Throughout it all, Rachel remained Jacob’s most esteemed wife.

Rachel Redeems

Yet, matchmaking is not the only issue here. In a broader sense, Jacob’s marriages to Leah and Rachel constitute the entire story of the Jewish People—the Children of Israel (Jacob’s other name)—and also how we relate to the Almighty.

Jacob’s relationship with Leah is what we might call a normal religious lifestyle. Most of us don’t study Torah and perform mitzvot because we have a natural instinct to do so. However, we do understand intellectually that this is the lifestyle that suits us as Jews, and this is the golden path that our forefathers trod. Religious Jews also know that they need to subdue their attraction to foreign paths and to annul their will to serve God’s will.[8] In Chassidic terminology, this is the service that belongs to “Leah’s persona” (????????? ?????).

In contrast, the relationship between Jacob and Rachel is a natural lifestyle. At first glance, we might think that a natural lifestyle does not express any connection with God. One can eat, drink, sleep, love or hike naturally, but all this is part of our secular life. But, the moment we touch on the realm of sanctity, it appears that those natural instincts just don’t want to cooperate; we can only hope that they don’t interfere too much with our endeavors towards the Divine! Nonetheless, we are convinced that we also have an innate Jewish nature that goes beyond our natural instincts. That profound level of our Jewish nature is simply and naturally in love with the Almighty. This is despite the infinite distance there is between us, as the verse states “God is in the heavens, and you are on earth.”[9] In fact, it is this very same chasm that causes the attractive pull between two complete opposites who ultimately complement each other. This is one reason why Chassidut explains that the main part of the redemption is “reconstructing Rachel’s persona” (???????? ????????? ?????), which ultimately refers to the revelation of a natural Jewish consciousness. This level of consciousness not only observes the Torah and performs mitzvot—because “that’s what we should do”—but because that is what our heart genuinely desires.

So we can follow our hearts if we are righteous, and in fact, the entire Jewish nation are called a “nation of tzadikim (righteous people),” and in the future we will all merit to act according to our rectified natural Jewish consciousness.

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s books in Hebrew, Rucho Shel Mashiach and Mechol Hakeramim



[1]  “Age” (?????) can also refer to “fortune” (?????).

[2]  Genesis 29:18.

[3] Ibid 29:17.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid 25:27.  In fact, the word “tent” (???) is a permutation of the letters of “Leah” (???).

[6] Ibid 8:21.

[7] Proverbs 11:23.

[8] Avot 2:4.

[9] Ecclesiastes 5:1.

…There is a custom among some Chassidim, nurse to begin the study of the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat, starting with page 77b. As yeshivot around the world are studying it this year, we thought it especially appropriate to mention a story that appears there on that page.

One day, Rabbi Zeira saw that his teacher, Rabbi Yehudah, was in a very happy mood, and that any question about nature that he would ask him he would answer. So he took the opportunity and asked him; “Why does the camel have a short tail, while the ox has a long tail?”[1]

A Function of Environment

The first thing we can appreciate from this story is that joy was a prerequisite. From the fact that the Talmud made a point of how happy Rabbi Yehudah was, we can deduce a very important principle: If you want to understand why God created nature the way He did, first make sure you are in a happy frame of mind![2] Rabbi Yehudah replied that camels eat thorns, and if its tail were long, it would get caught in the thorns and be injured by them.[3] Why then does the ox have a long tail? He answered this is because the ox lives in areas that have a lot of mosquitoes (Aramaic: ???), so it needs a long tail to swat them away.[4] Therefore, God gave him the defense mechanism he needed.

Eating Modestly

Based on this story from the Talmud, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains[5] that there are two types of tzadikim, modest tzadikim and great tzadikim. The camel represents the modest tzadikim.[6] Camels are modest, meaning that they cohabit unobtrusively.[7] Rabbi Nachman explains that the camel’s eating habit alludes to the way modest tzadikim consume the kelipot.[8] While these righteous individuals do not provoke the wicked, they still consume their daily diet of thorns; the kelipot. Even though this is not their intention, through their daily regimen of modest mitzvot, prayers, and Torah study; it just so happens that they are also eating their fair share of kelipot as well!

In addition to sharing the trait of modesty, both camels and modest tzadikim have ‘short tails’ (i.e., they are not injured by either thorns or kelipot, because they do not get caught up in them). But a great tzadik is like a firstborn son, who receives a double portion of the inheritance; as in the blessing Jacob gave to Ephraim and Menashe; “To his firstborn ox is [given] glory” (??????? ??????? ????? ???).[9] Whatever the great tzadik speaks, it always has two meanings. While this can mean that his words carry a double reward—as was the case with Jacob’s blessing, as each of the two sons of Joseph became a full-fledged tribe—he can also be easily misunderstood. This is the trait of a great tzadik; that even earnest people might comprehend the complete opposite of what he is really trying to say.

Swatting Away the Opponents

How then is this a blessing? Because God gave these great tzadikim ‘long tails’ for a reason; so that they could swat away the opponents that they created themselves! Even though they are the source for many of these kelipot, since they can also swat them away, the fact that they live in a ‘mosquito’ ridden environment is ultimately for their own good.

Similar to the double-portion of the firstborn, God gave great tzadikim a ‘long tail’ as a gift. That while they will need to swat away the external forces that oppose them, they also have a much greater ability to bring down a double-portion of blessing.



[1] As mentioned in the class, this was actually the second question posed to Rabbi Yehudah. The first was; “Why do black goats precede white sheep in a herd?”

[2] This goes for those now reading this article as well!

[3] It is interesting to note that this is exactly the same thinking as used in modern biology.

[4] This is also something a biologist would say.

[5] Likutei Moharan II 15.

[6] Pl. of tzadik (??????), righteous individual.

[7] See Rashi on Genesis 32:16.

[8] Husks of impurity that conceal the sparks of holiness.

[9] Deuteronomy 33:17.

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s class, Be’er Sheva, 21 Elul 5773


[1] As mentioned in the class, this was actually the second question posed to Rabbi Yehudah. The first was; “Why do black goats precede white sheep in a herd?”

[2] This goes for those now reading this article as well!

[3] It is interesting to note that this is exactly the same thinking as used in modern biology.

[4] This is also something a biologist would say.

[5] Likutei Moharan II 15.

[6] Pl. of tzadik (??????), righteous individual.

[7] Husks of impurity that conceal the sparks of holiness.

[8] Deuteronomy 33:17.

…There is a custom among some Chassidim, no rx to begin the study of the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat, store starting with page 77b. As yeshivot around the world are studying it this year, online we thought it especially appropriate to mention a story that appears there on that page.

One day, Rabbi Zeira saw that his teacher, Rabbi Yehudah, was in a very happy mood, and that any question about nature that he would ask him he would answer. So he took the opportunity and asked him; “Why does the camel have a short tail, while the ox has a long tail?”[1]

A Function of Environment

The first thing we can appreciate from this story is that joy was a prerequisite. From the fact that the Talmud made a point of how happy Rabbi Yehudah was, we can deduce a very important principle: If you want to understand why God created nature the way He did, first make sure you are in a happy frame of mind![2] Rabbi Yehudah replied that camels eat thorns, and if its tail were long, it would get caught in the thorns and be injured by them.[3] Why then does the ox have a long tail? He answered this is because the ox lives in areas that have a lot of mosquitoes (Aramaic: ???), so it needs a long tail to swat them away.[4] Therefore, God gave him the defense mechanism he needed.

Eating Modestly

Based on this story from the Talmud, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains[5] that there are two types of tzadikim, modest tzadikim and great tzadikim. The camel represents the modest tzadikim.[6] Camels are modest, meaning that they cohabit unobtrusively.[7] Rabbi Nachman explains that the camel’s eating habit alludes to the way modest tzadikim consume the kelipot.[8] While these righteous individuals do not provoke the wicked, they still consume their daily diet of thorns; the kelipot. Even though this is not their intention, through their daily regimen of modest mitzvot, prayers, and Torah study; it just so happens that they are also eating their fair share of kelipot as well!

In addition to sharing the trait of modesty, both camels and modest tzadikim have ‘short tails’ (i.e., they are not injured by either thorns or kelipot, because they do not get caught up in them). But a great tzadik is like a firstborn son, who receives a double portion of the inheritance; as in the blessing Jacob gave to Ephraim and Menashe; “To his firstborn ox is [given] glory” (??????? ??????? ????? ???).[9] Whatever the great tzadik speaks, it always has two meanings. While this can mean that his words carry a double reward—as was the case with Jacob’s blessing, as each of the two sons of Joseph became a full-fledged tribe—he can also be easily misunderstood. This is the trait of a great tzadik; that even earnest people might comprehend the complete opposite of what he is really trying to say.

Swatting Away the Opponents

How then is this a blessing? Because God gave these great tzadikim ‘long tails’ for a reason; so that they could swat away the opponents that they created themselves! Even though they are the source for many of these kelipot, since they can also swat them away, the fact that they live in a ‘mosquito’ ridden environment is ultimately for their own good.

Similar to the double-portion of the firstborn, God gave great tzadikim a ‘long tail’ as a gift. That while they will need to swat away the external forces that oppose them, they also have a much greater ability to bring down a double-portion of blessing.


[1] As mentioned in the class, this was actually the second question posed to Rabbi Yehudah. The first was; “Why do black goats precede white sheep in a herd?”

[2] This goes for those now reading this article as well!

[3] It is interesting to note that this is exactly the same thinking as used in modern biology.

[4] This is also something a biologist would say.

[5] Likutei Moharan II 15.

[6] Pl. of tzadik (??????), righteous individual.

[7] See Rashi on Genesis 32:16.

[8] Husks of impurity that conceal the sparks of holiness.

[9] Deuteronomy 33:17.

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s class, Be’er Sheva, 21 Elul 5773


[1] As mentioned in the class, this was actually the second question posed to Rabbi Yehudah. The first was; “Why do black goats precede white sheep in a herd?”

[2] This goes for those now reading this article as well!

[3] It is interesting to note that this is exactly the same thinking as used in modern biology.

[4] This is also something a biologist would say.

[5] Likutei Moharan II 15.

[6] Pl. of tzadik (??????), righteous individual.

[7] Husks of impurity that conceal the sparks of holiness.

[8] Deuteronomy 33:17.

checkmate

Since the time of the kings of Edom until today, help the World of Chaos is in a state of instability and prefers to wallow eternally in the swamp of bachelorhood…

Kings without Queens

In any good story about a king, one might suppose that there is also a queen. It just doesn’t seem fitting for a king to be single. But, there is at least one place in the Torah where kings did not follow this basic protocol.

“And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel.” Towards the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach, the Torah enumerates the eight kings of Edom and describes how, one after the other, each of them rises to power at the other’s expense: “And there ruled in Edom Bela ben Be’or… and Bela died and after him ruled Yovav ben Zarach from Botzrah. And Yovav died and after him ruled Chusham from the land of the Teimani…” One after the next, the Torah describes how each king of Edom dies and the next one rules. Yet, of the eight kings, seven apparently had no queen by their side, and only with reference to the eighth and last king does it mention his wife’s name: “And after him ruled Hadar … and his wife’s name was Meheitavel.” This seems to imply that all the other kings were bachelors, or at least did not have a marriage worth mentioning.

In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to first understand why the Torah even mentions these kings. Taking a literal approach, the Ramban [Nachmanides] [1] interprets that from here we learn that Isaac’s blessing to Esau was realized, “Upon your sword shall you live.” [2] These kings of Edom were Esau’s descendants, and they conquered the kings of Seir who had ruled before them. But, beyond this literal interpretation, there are many more hidden facets to this episode, which can be accessed by studying the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut. There it becomes clear that this passage conceals some of the Torah’s deepest secrets.

Chaos Comes before Rectification

Rabbeinu Bechaye writes:

From a Kabbalistic perspective, “And these are the kings who ruled in the Land of Edom” is a hidden reference to the world that the Almighty created with the measure of judgment before He created this world, and before He revealed His Majesty in this world… For He created worlds and destroyed them until He created [our world] and included…the attribute of compassion, and I cannot explain this because these are eminent, secret matters that are of utmost significance.

However, those ideas that were ambiguous and obscure in Rabbeinu Bechaye’s era, [3] were explained two centuries later by the Holy Arizal and continued to come to light in the Kabbalistic literature that followed, and later, in Chassidic literature.

In short, the kings of Edom are a reference to the World of Chaos that preceded the World of Rectification. In Kabbalah, the creation of the world is described as a spiritual process of God’s infinite light descending until it reaches the physical world as we know it. During this process, the World of Chaos was created, which did not endure for very long, but “broke and died.” This is the meaning of the sages’ saying that “God creates worlds and destroys them.” [4] The World of Rectification was created to replace the World of Chaos that broke.

The World of Chaos is described as points of light that emanated, one after the other from their supreme Divine source (referred to as “Primordial Man”), however each one of these lights broke and died as soon as it protruded, because the vessels were unable to contain the lights. This is the traumatic event referred to in Kabbalah as the “Breaking of the Vessels” (????????? ?????????). This is the secret of the recurring phrase “And he ruled… and he died,” which is stated with reference to the first kings of Edom. Each king represents a light that radiates out and immediately shatters. In contrast, we note that the Torah does not mention that the eighth king, Hadar (who again, is the one who is married) died. Kabbalah therefore explains that he represents the initiation of the World of Rectification.

To make these ideas somewhat easier to digest, we can explain that this does not only refer to primordial events from the distant past. God renews the act of creation every single day, so any description of what happened at creation is, to a certain extent, what is happening at the more profound levels of reality all the time. For instance, the service that we need to do in this world is to refine lost sparks. These lost sparks are the fragments that fell and scattered from the broken World of Chaos.

This means that in the same way that the spiritual world began with chaos, so too does every physical phenomenon also begin with a state of chaos before it reaches its ultimate rectification. This we can perceive from the very beginning of the Torah, first “And the earth was chaos” [5] and only afterwards, “and there was light.” [6] This order can be identified in many general ideas in the Torah, for example: darkness preceded light; animals preceded human beings; the six days of creation preceded the Holy Shabbat; Esau preceded Jacob; the kings of Edom “before there ruled a king of the Children of Israel”; the seventy nations of the world appeared on the stage of history before the Jewish people; and the dark reality of exile precedes the final redemption. The sages succinctly state the rule that, “First is darkness and light follows.” [7] To use another Kabbalistic phrase that describes this phenomenon, “The [inedible] husk precedes the [edible] fruit.” One of the reasons why things need to appear in this way is that the husk guards the fruit, allowing it to safely develop to maturity.

The Power of Chaos

What is it that caused the kings of chaos to break and die? In the language of Kabbalah, in the World of Chaos there were “many lights and few vessels.” This means that each light appeared at the peak of its power and aspired to overtake the whole stage, flooding it with its own hue. In the context of the kings, this phenomenon is described as each king saying, “I will rule.” Each king came with the full extent of his force and said, “I am here and only me!” Such a powerful chaotic force as this “breaks the vessels,” in both the literal and the esoteric sense of the phrase. The vessels are intended to contain the light?which is initially spiritual and elusive by nature?and bring it to effect as a tangible reality. But, when the light enters these vessels with great intensity, the vessels are unable to endure the pressure. Instead of containing the light, they burst and shatter.

For this very reason, the lights of the World of Chaos cannot live in peace with one another. One king can only appear after the death of his predecessor because, “No kingdom can touch another kingdom, even by a hair’s breadth,” [8] and “two kings cannot reign with one crown”[9]?especially not kings like these, whose inflated egos aim to conquer territory for their own purposes and extend beyond their own boundaries. When egoism is unbridled, just having someone else in the vicinity seems like a threat to the person’s existence.

By contrast, in the World of Rectification, “there are few lights and many vessels.” The lights appear in a smaller, more refined and more restrained version. Since the lights do not appear with such high intensity, they do not break the vessels with their force. The lights succeed in uniting with the vessels, reaching a state of stable existence that does not break. This is why in the World of Rectification all of the lights? despite their obvious dissimilarities?are present simultaneously, and there is no need for one to “die” before another appears. Peace reigns in the World of Rectification because these different lights do not appear as individual protrusions, but are relatively annulled to their source. This type of peace is referred to as “a vessel that holds blessing” and this is how all the lights combine into one harmonic system that becomes a complete “persona.”

From Bachelorhood to Married Life

Chassidut teaches us how the most profound secrets of Kabbalah are reflected in the human psyche, as the verse states, “From my flesh I will perceive God.” [10] With regards to the subject under discussion, being single is considered relatively “chaotic,” while married life is considered to be a World of Rectification.

This idea comes to the fore in the case of someone who remains single because they are psychologically trapped in a culture that does not encourage them to extricate themselves from singledom, and create a genuine, lasting marriage. Often, these are people who have a lot of “light,” they want to achieve many things, to advance, to get rich and conquer new horizons; they have big ideas and a great desire for self-actualization. However, their problem is that in their world there is only one person?them and themself alone. This is a typical “I will rule” phenomenon in which the person’s individuality does not allow them to let anyone else into their world, except as an object to be exploited for their own interests.

This is why the Torah does not mention that the first seven kings of Edom had wives. “Kings” of the World of Chaos are essentially unable to live their lives in a genuine marital relationship. The most that can be expected of them is to create a profitable business partnership. Only the eighth and final king, Hadar, who represents the beginning of the World of Rectification, was really married. Therefore, only Hadar did not die, because just as in a game of chess the King without the Queen is unable to run long distances, so too, without nurturing our partnership for life, “stale-mate” may be the most likely outcome, and “check-mate” is only a few moves away.

When someone is totally self-oriented, they live in a foreign, cold and distant world, unable to make true contact with their (potential) spouse. In order to improve this they must undergo a process of self-rectification, which begins by breaking all their present misconceptions. The first step to this process is to pay attention to the fact that somewhere deep inside, lurks the belief that “I am all and there is none besides me”?a thought that leaves no room for anyone else to step inside. This type of stubborn egotism believes that all other people were born to serve this individual’s ego. Once this facet of narcissism has been pinpointed, the individual will understand that they need to turn down their headlights, out of consideration for anyone approaching them, so as not to “dazzle” them with their own energies. Lowering the intensity of their ego allows the individual to listen to others’ voices. In other words, instead of expecting Prince, or Princess Charming, to capture their heart, it would be better to open their own heart by taking an attitude of selfless concern towards those they meet.

The process of developing from chaos to rectification is liable to be accompanied by a critical breakage point. This is experienced as a sense of surrendering one’s self-image, which may feel like psychological suicide to a certain extent. But, this predicament is worthwhile, because when we turn towards the other and begin to nurture a warm, loving relationship, together we construct a wide vessel that can contain the lights of both partners in the most harmonious combination. When two people build together such a loving, considerate relationship, their energies resonate with each other, and the integration of their lights comes to fruition as a complete “persona” in the form of a warm Jewish home and family.

For further reading see our book in Hebrew, Ahavah (Love), in the chapter on late bachelorhood. 


[1] See Ramban’s commentary to Genesis 36:30.

[2] Genesis 27:40.

[3] Rabeinu Bechaye wrote his interpretation on the Torah in the mid 14th century.

[4] Kohelet Rabah 3:11.

[5] Genesis 1:2.

[6] Ibid 1:3.

[7] Shabbat 77b.

[8] Berachot 48b.

[9] Rashi, Genesis 1:16.

[10] Job 19:26.

4 Responses to “Checkmate to the Kings of Edom”

  1. benjamin michael says:

    Stunned and Speechless….unable to adequately express my joy & gratitude…I am truly humbled to stand under such wisdom…Thank You

  2. Christina says:

    :-( RTS

  3. Michele says:

    Obedience vs Rebellion

    In the last few months I have searched within the depth of my very own soul for the darkness and chaos of the ego, manifested in selfishness, presumption, man made boundaries and communication issues, in a conscientious effort to prevent myself from making the same mistakes repeatedly. Truthfully, I cannot afford another forty years in the wilderness! However, I do ponder in my heart and find comfort in Chayei Sarah (the life of Sarah) that gives every Princess and Queen of Zion a refreshening of hope everlasting in rectification and humility. I am conscious of and depend on our Third Partner G-d and our connection to Mt Sinai through one of His 72 names Hey Yod Yod, (Prophecy and Parallel Universes). Today I listen for and hear His voice in Exodus 19: 20-25 realizing that He is aware of the various behavior issues of the Children of Israel then and now.

    ADONAI came down onto Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; then ADONAI called Moshe to the top of the mountain; and Moshe went up. ADONAI said to Moshe, “Go down and warn the people not to force their way through to ADONAI to see him; if they do, many of them will perish. Even the cohanim, who are allowed to approach ADONAI, must keep themselves holy; otherwise, ADONAI may break out against them.” Moshe said to ADONAI, “The people can’t come up to Mount Sinai, because you ordered us to set limits around the mountain and separate it.” But ADONAI answered him, “Go, get down! Then come back up, you and Aharon with you. But don’t let the cohanim and the people force their way through to come up to ADONAI, or he will break out against them.” So Moshe went down to the people and told them.

    In the midst of today’s chaos: ADONAI came down onto Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain;

    We chose obedience to G-d. Long live the King! Long live the Queen! G-d has spoken.

    Your student

  4. Michael says:

    To describe bachelorhood as a swamp is unhelpful, hurtful and insulting to those who would be married but for various reasons will not be (although some marriages you wouldn’t want to be in!) Unfortunately, the Rav sometimes falls short of being helpful, but rather amounts to playing childish games with gematria. Being honest and saying ‘I can’t help with your problem’ may be the ‘rectified’ response in some cases!