HOLINESS OF THE MARITAL UNION
According to the Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, the verse, "And the men came upon the women," in this week’s Torah portion is talking about the correct, holy way of marital relations. Let me explain.
"Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to teach tales of this world and to speak about ordinary affairs.
First, it is necessary to remind our readers that there is more to the Torah than meets the eye. The existence of a deeper, secret level of Torah is beautifully set forth in the Zohar, in a passage that is worthwhile to quote in length:
"Rabbi Shimon said: Woe to the man who says that the Torah comes to teach tales of this world and to speak about ordinary affairs. If that were so, even today, we could create a Torah dealing with ordinary matters that would be far superior. But this is not the case. For all the words of the Torah are concerned with exalted matters and celestial secrets....
"The stories of the Torah are only her worldly garments, and whoever thinks that this worldly attire is the Torah itself, and not something deeper, may his soul be obliterated – he will have no portion in the world to come. For this reason, David said, "Open mine eyes, that I may see the wonders of Your Torah" (Tehillim, 119:18), meaning the things that are beneath the Torah’s worldly garment.
"Come and see. There are garments that everyone sees. When fools see a man in smart-looking clothing, they don’t look any deeper (but rather judge the worth of the man according to his clothes). However, the pride of the clothes is the body, and the pride of the body is the soul.
"In the very same way, the Torah has a body made up of the commandments of the Torah, which are called the body of the Torah. This body is dressed up in garments that are the stories of this world. The fools of the world only see the garment, the worldly narration. They do not know anything more, nor do they look beneath this outer garment. Those who understand more, do not look just upon the garment, but on the body that is under the garment. The Sages, the servants of the exalted King, those who stood on Mount Sinai, peer down to the soul, which is the principle thing of them all, and this is the real Torah. In the future, they are destined to gaze into the soul of the soul of the Torah" (Zohar, Bamidbar 152b).
More than any other subject, the Torah repeatedly elaborates in Torah portion after portion, on the detailed construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). This unusual repetition is especially perplexing when we remember that the Mishkan, was to be a temporary structure until the building of the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem.
Obviously, there is more here than meets the eye. Indeed, the Zohar teaches that the Mishkan contains the blueprint for all Creation. It is the point of union of heaven and earth, designed to unite the Shechinah and the Holy One Blessed Be He. In Kabbalistic terms, the service of the Jewish People in the Mishkan parallels the marital union. This is symbolized by the keruvim, the male and female figures on top of the ark that would seem to couple in a loving embrace when G-d was pleased with the Jewish People. Thus, in the supplication following the Tikun HaYesod prayer, "Yeshuat Eliahu," Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi has written:
"Blessed L-rd, may I merit to truthfully keep the laws of family purity, and not play games with my mind, by giving in to all sorts of temptations, by saying, ‘This is permitted, and this isn’t really that forbidden.’ For behold, we have seen what the Torah has said regarding the ideal marital union, ‘And the men came upon the women’ (Shemot, 35:22), and not, Heaven forbid, in any other way, which bring about upside down couplings, causing severe judgments and increased suffering in the world."
In other words, according to the Kabbalah, the missionary position, with the man on top, facing downward, and the woman lying on her back, facing up, is the proper position for marital relations. Rabbi Levi writes: "This way of performing the marital union is the preferred and most perfect way, the way of the Torah, called "panim b’panim," and not in other positions, as stated in some books whose authors have not reached the path of truth, and wrote differently. In so doing, they have spread out a snare for all the Jewish People, and they cause them to sin and bring about the corruption of the precious soul of the Jewish People, and cast them into a cavernous pit, may Heaven have mercy."
Readers interested in learning more about the holiness of marital relations are encouraged to read Rabbi Levi’s guidelines in greater depth. The Torah commands the Jewish People to be holy, and, whether we like it or not, our holiness starts right here.