From the passage in the Torah portion of Seitzei:
"When a man takes a wife and lives with her ... and she goes out ... and she becomes. ..," we learn
that a man may marry his wife either with money, with a marriage document, or by having marital relations. Although all three forms are valid, the prevailing custom is to acquire a wife with money (kesef), or with an object that has monetary value (shavah kesef).
There are two ways of viewing the obtaining of a wife with money: that the woman acquires the money, and through this acquisition becomes married, or that by becoming married, she acquires the money that is given her.
In a spiritual context, these two views have equal validity. For in the mystical sense, the phrase "a wife is acquired by her husband" refers to the union of G-d and the Jewish people.
Just as in a physical marriage there are the joint aspects of the husband's acquisition of his wife and her concomitant prohibition to anyone else, so too with regard to the marriage of G-d and the Jews. The Jewish people cling to G-d, and are simultaneously separated from mundane pleasures that would impinge on this relationship.
And just as in a physical marriage these two aspects cannot be separated, so it is in the spiritual marriage of G-d and the Jews. In the words of Chovos HaLevavos: "It is impossible to implant love of G-d within our hearts while love of this world resides within us."
In light of the above, we can understand the inner reason for the prevailing custom of marrying with money or an object that has monetary value. For the Hebrew word for money, kesef, is also indicative of love and desire - the spiritual service of love of G-d - the main purpose of which is to achieve union with Him.
We can also understand how both above-mentioned views of marriage - that through the acquisition of money the woman is wed, or that by becoming married, the wife acquires the money - are equally valid in the spiritual sense.
The acquisition by money (kesef or love) alludes to the union of a Jew with G-d. The Hebrew term for marriage, kiddushin (from the term meaning separation or detachment), implies that a Jew's marriage to G-d is connected to his separation from mundane matters.
Within this marriage of the Jewish people to G-d, there are two kinds of service with regard to the first stage of union: from "below to above," or from "above to below."
In the service of "below to above," kiddushin comes first; a person must first remove himself from worldly pleasures. He is then roused with a love for G-d - the "acquisition of kesef." In other words, with this form of service, a person begins by "turning away from evil" and thereafter achieves the positive result of "doing good."
In the service from "above to below," the order is reversed. Once a person loves G-d - the "acquisition of kesef" - this emotion will bring about a state of kiddushin, wherein he distances himself from mundane pleasures.
The underlying reason for the difference in approach - from "below to above" or "above to below" - lies in the fact that these are two different types of spiritual service. The first kind is that of serving G-d in a logical manner, in an orderly progression. A logical and orderly kind of service implies that a person cannot attain a love for G-d without first divorcing himself from love of corporeal matters.
The second kind of service, however, transcends the bonds of logic. Here, notwithstanding the person's current spiritual state, he utterly devotes himself to G-dliness. This in turn will cause him to become separated from the desires and delights of the physical world.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, pp. 215-219.
- (Back to text) Devarim 24:1-2.
- (Back to text) Sifri, ibid. See also Kiddushin 4b ff.; Yerushalmi, beginning of Kiddushin.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Ishus 3:21. See also Yevamos 31b and Ran, beginning of Kiddushin.
- (Back to text) See She'eilos U'Teshuvos Tzafnas Paneach Dwinsk, I:9.
- (Back to text) Rashi, beginning of Kiddushin.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Beshallach, p. 1c; Keser Shem Tov, section 9, et al.
- (Back to text) See Tzafnas Paneach, Hilchos Ishus 3:15, et al.
- (Back to text) See Tanya ch. 46 (end of p. 65b ff.); Iggeres HaTeshuvah ch. 10 (end of p. 99a).
- (Back to text) Pesach HaShaar to Shaar Ahavas HaShem.
- (Back to text) Or HaTorah, Shavuos, p. 199, 204. See also Likkutei Torah and Keser Shem Tov, ibid.
In the Torah portion of Seitzei we read:
"Do not wear a forbidden mixture, in which wool and linen are together [in a single garment]." This forbidden mixture is known as shatnez, or kilayim. The Torah goes on to state:
"You shall make tzitzis on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself." Because these verses are contiguous, we deduce that tzitzis may be made of kilayim.
The Torah states that there are three forms of forbidden mixtures: "Do not plant kilayim in your vineyard." "Do not plow with an ox and donkey together." "Do not wear shatnez, where wool and linen are together."
So too in the Torah portion of Kedoshim: "Do not breed your livestock in a manner of kilayim [ do not crossbreed]; do not plant your field with kilayim [do not hybridize plants]; do not wear a garment of kilayim [in which wool and linen are interwoven]."
Of these three forms, only "kilayim of garments" may at times be permissible, such as in the case of tzitzis. However, one may never produce hybrid animals or plants.
Why does "kilayim of garments" differ from the other two kinds?
The Ramban explains that the commandment prohibiting the crossbreeding of animals and plants is a logical one. G-d created plants and animals so that they bring forth of "their own kind." By producing a hybrid, one changes, denies and causes confusion in the Work of Creation. The prohibition of "plowing with an ox and donkey together," is for the same reason; "a farmer generally places his draft animals in the same stable, and this can lead to interbreeding."
Thus, when one crossbreeds animals or plants he is causing chaos with regard to their reproduction - an essential element of their being. This flies in the face of the Work of Creation.
This is not the case when one interlaces wool and linen. No essential intermingling is brought about; the two materials are merely superficially bound together. In fact, their connection is so tenuous that the threads can be severed one from the other.
Since the reason for the prohibition of "kilayim of garments" is not the same as that for the prohibition of crossbreeding plants and animals, for it merely serves to distance an individual from hybridizing, when it comes to a mitzvah such as tzitzis, the prohibition does not apply.
This will be better understood in light of the statement that the prohibition of kilayim involves not only physical intermingling, but also the improper mixture of two spiritual opposites. For wool and linen (and so too the ox and the donkey) allude to the diametrically opposite emotional attributes of kindness and severity. Since they are so different, they cannot be successfully combined.
This, however, must be understood, inasmuch as we find that combining two opposites results in one of the greatest qualities of all - the quality of peace. Thus we find that one of the main components of spiritual service is the combining of opposite attributes, to be neither too hard nor too soft. How then do we say that the prohibition of kilayim forbids the mixture of kindness and severity?
The impossibility of combining two opposite traits, however, only applies to the attributes as they exist in the world, but not as they are in holiness. For each worldly entity feels itself to exist separately unto itself. This feeling of self is so strong that it cannot combine with an opposite trait.
This is not so with regard to holy traits, for there the predominant aspect is self-abnegation and nullification of self to G-dliness. In this instance, kindness and severity can commingle. Thus the Sifri states: "Only with regard to G-dly attributes can love coexist with fear, and fear with love."
Therefore, when kilayim is not for the purpose of a mitzvah, the opposite qualities inherent in each of the kinds makes it impossible for them to come together. They are therefore prohibited.
But when the opposites come together for the sake of a mitzvah, as in the case of tzitzis, then (as long as their union does not produce something contrary to G-d's will, as in crossbreeding), opposites can indeed make "peace" and come together in a permissible way.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 122-127.
- (Back to text) Devarim 22:11.
- (Back to text) Ibid., verse 12.
- (Back to text) Yevamos 4a; commentary of Rashi on the verse; Rambam, Hilchos Kilayim 10:4.
- (Back to text) Devarim 22:9-11.
- (Back to text) Vayikra 19:19.
- (Back to text) Ibid.
- (Back to text) Bereishis 1:11-12 - with regard to vegetation; 1:21, 24-25 - with regard to animals. See Yerushalmi, Kilayim 1:7; Vayikra Rabbah 35:4. See also Kiddushin 39a, Sanhedrin 60a (and Tosafos there).
- (Back to text) Ramban, ibid., as well as Vayikra 22:8; Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, ch. 49. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXIV, p. 125ff.; Vol. XXIV, p. 149ff.
- (Back to text) See Yerushalmi, ibid.
- (Back to text) See Ramban, Kedoshim, ibid., and Nemukei Shmuel ibid.
- (Back to text) Bachya, ibid., - quoted and explained in Or HaTorah, Seitzei (p. 960ff.); Or HaTorah, Nach p. 132ff.
- (Back to text) See Or HaTorah, Nach, ibid.; Lo Silbash 5678, p. 408.
- (Back to text) See also Rambam, Hilchos De'os 1:4.
- (Back to text) Vaes'chanan 6:5.