Monday, May 19, 2008

Spirit of the Law: Sefiras Haomer 8 & 9

8) “On the day before a bris the father, sandak, and mohel can cut their hair…”

The reason why we mourn during sefira is because the students of Rabbi Akiva didn’t merit to work together in love and fellowship. If they had been worthy, they would have merited to bring Moshiach and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.

A bris is likened to the bringing of a sacrifice. For those who make the bris, it is as though the Beis Hamikdash has already been rebuilt. This is why they may take a haircut even during this time of mourning. Bringing their “korban” is a much higher avodah than maintaining the state of mourning, and it is only fitting that the one bringing the “offering” (the father is offering up the child, the mohel is like the kohein making the sacrifice, and the sandak is like the altar on which the sacrifice is brought) should lack nothing for this momentous event.

9) “To make shiduchim is permitted during these days…”

A person without his or her match cannot possibly be spiritually complete. For this reason, even Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, were not able to bring the incense. Lacking wives, they lacked the ability to really make this rectification. Rav Nosson of Breslov explains that the tikkun of ketores is the transformation of anguish into joy. This can only be done through learning how to relate to another person—and for such a relationship to really work, one must be unselfish and giving. It is only by overcoming the challenges to one’s self-absorption that marriage presents that one elevates the sparks. This is accomplished by learning how to be joyous through what used to cause them anguish. Nadav and Avihu wanted to be in a continual ascent on high without having to cross any barriers. They thought that this is what would bring them to the highest rectification—that of the ketores. However, because they never had to exercise self-restrain in order to maintain shalom bayis with their spouses, the Arizal called them “halves.”

Once we understand the greatness of the spiritual work of marriage, we can more easily comprehend why it is permitted to finalize a shiduch even during these days of mourning. If a person finds the correct shiduch, he should immediately make a commitment and not wait, since inaction would mean that he might lose the prospective match to another, G-d forbid.

(Spirit of the Law 7 discusses Lag B'omer and will B'ezras Hashem be posted presently.)

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