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Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
I know there are readers who dislike my writing about issues of Jewish sexuality. They can by-pass this blog and rejoin us after Shabbat. For everyone else, I hope you will enjoy and benefit from this important and holy essay by the revered Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi.
THE SECRET OF SHABBAT
By HaRav Eliahu Leon Levi
My brothers and friends, I have many things to say to you to help you reach a greater love of G-d, and foremost is the need to achieve a true reverence of Heaven. The matters discussed in this essay will bring you great blessings from G-d’s treasure of love. First, my dear son, you should strive to do everything you can to properly keep the Shabbat. In order to do this, you must know with a clear and utter certainty that a great deal of work is demanded on Friday to prepare for the Shabbat. It is my upmost advice to finish all of this holy work some three hours before Shabbat begins. Therefore, give your thought and energy to helping your wife as much as you can, for your wife is termed by the holy Zohar, “the lower Shechinah.” By preparing for the Shabbat in a united spirit together, you will draw down an exalted Divine Assistance which will enable you to finish all of the preparatory work with great joy, and after you have finished, you will have time to thank and praise Hashem in song, and to invite the Sabbath Queen, “Come my Bride, Come my Bride, the Queen of Shabbat.”
YOUR WIFE, YOUR QUEEN
Occasionally it happens that your wife feels that something is lacking in the house, or she can’t find something she needs, or some work hasn’t been finished, which brings her to get angry and to start making excessive demands. For instance, this can happen if she lacks some spice for her cooking, or something similar which she needs in the house. This can cause her great sorrow and panic, believing that the Shabbat won’t be as honored as she would like. Please know that these afternoon hours on Friday are packed with pressure for her, with feelings of self-criticism that can explode into bitter criticisms of the husband and flare into a quarrel of joint incrimination. If this occurs, you both are the losers, for the anger and criticisms will open the gateway for impure spiritual forces and impure spiritual husks called “klipot” to enter your house, and they will take their place at the Shabbat table which you so industriously prepared in honor of the holy Shabbat. They will cause your honored Sabbath guest, the Shechinah, the Sabbath Queen, great sorrow, for these impure and damaging spiritual agents will greedily nurture from her holiness. Can there be a greater desecration of Shabbat than this?
Therefore, if you see that you wife is on the verge of getting angry because something is missing in her eyes, you should keep silent and understand that very often a woman’s reasoning is short-circuited by her emotions, so that if she feels that she is missing something she needs, it seems to her that there is nothing at all in the house, for her emotions tell her that without the needed item, it is impossible to properly welcome the Sabbath Queen on time. Because of this feeling, she becomes terribly pressured. Therefore, my dear son, you must pay special attention to your wife and home on Friday, with added understanding, for this is an important and holy time, more than the other weekdays since the sixth day of the week is the “Yesod” which leads the way to Shabbat . By hallowing Friday, you sanctify the “lower Shechinah” which is your wife. Therefore, you are called upon to speak with your wife in a calm and pleasing manner, and be especially tolerant with her on Friday, with great understanding, and you must strive to win her affection with loving words so that she will feel appreciated and truly feel that all of her labor is sincerely valued by you. By relating to her in this manner your house will be filled with contentment and joy, and this will draw down a wealth of Divine blessings on your home and family.
Stemming from this, when you engage in the marital union on the night of Shabbat , it will be crowned with all of the blessings that are written in our holy Torah. Love and true friendship with grace your coupling, and this will bring great contentment to our Father in Heaven, just as a father is pleased with the happiness of his children. And this will hasten the day when love and peace will grace all of the holy Jewish Nation with the coming of our Mashiach, may it be soon.
HOLINESS OF SHABBAT
You should also know that on Friday, beginning five hours after sunrise, there is an elevation of spiritual worlds, and a great and holy flame shoots forth which causes all forces of spiritual impurity to flee and to descend to an underworld cave where all of the impure and damaging spiritual agents are imprisoned until the end of Shabbat. For this reason, Shabbat is free of all impurity and spiritual pollution, such as klipot, destructive spiritual agents and accusers that always try to cling to a holy Jew, the pinnacle of Creation. The opposite is the situation during the weekdays when the klipot zealously attack, accuse, and draw curses upon a Jew in their jealousy, seducing him into transgression with all of their many strategies, especially getting him to gaze at forbidden images, so that he will emit semen in vain and thus pollute all of his body.
"REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY"
My brothers and friends, know that HaKodesh Baruch Hu commanded us in his holy Torah, “Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy.” The meaning of this verse according to the secrets of Torah is that the faculties of spiritual intelligence (mochin) in a man are called “holy,” and that Hashem, may He be blessed, commanded us that on the night of Shabbat, we are to sanctify the “Yesod,” which is the “Brit,” through the sanctity of the marital union. This causes “mochin” which are called “holy” to descend on the “Yesod” of the husband, and then when he unites with his wife, this brings holiness to the “lower Shechinah,” which is your wife. Therefore, it is necessary to engage in the holy marital union of the holy Shabbat night, which is a much more important time than other nights of the week, and we are especially enjoined in this matter.
In the event that your righteous wife is tired, angry at you, or feeling ill, or upset by other things that have created friction between you, then you must immediately make peace and placate her, and do whatever is needed to rectify the bad feelings and the mistakes that were made unintentionally, and to forgive one another with a full heart, since the Holy One Blessed Be He is not happy when in the holy houses of the Jewish People, whom He has selected from all of the nations, the husband and wife are at odds, whether because of anger, either big or small, or because one is too stringent with the other, especially on the holy Shabbat night when Celestial Angels accompany a man home from the synagogue and are present in the house. For due to even the slightest feelings of resentment or anger between the husband and wife, the holy angels become greatly offended, and this is certainly not becoming behavior for the Jewish People, the sons of kings. Therefore, if there be contention between husband and wife, or grudges and complaints, this will cause great sorrow and distress to the exalted guest, who is called the “Sabbath Queen.”
Therefore, husband and wife must immediately mend their character traits, for anger and other negative feelings prevent them from uniting in the holy marital act, Heaven forbid, which is a most essential thing, and the Torah cautions us about this by saying, “And the Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat.” According to the Kabbalah, this verse means that the Torah is exhorting us to know that a husband and wife should conduct marital relations on the night of Shabbat . This is indicated by the initial letters contained in the verse, “ "ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת which spell ביאה, the marital union. This means that the Torah wants us to keep the Shabbat, specifically by engaging in marital relations on Shabbat night. It is all for naught should the husband or wife offer all kinds of excuses why they refrained from sanctifying the Sabbath night in this manner, even if should they bring different explanations of this verse from assorted holy books – it is all a waste of time and effort. For our holy Torah has already determined that you are commanded and obligated to conduct marital relations of Sabbath nights. One should not take lightly something that our holy Torah commands us clearly in saying, “And the Children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat,” and the verse, “Remember the Sabbath day…” and many other verses of the Torah.
Please note: if, and only if, your wife is in the time of her menstrual Niddah period, then certainly the marital union is forbidden until after her ritual immersion.
Furthermore, if there be a truly genuine reason for not engaging in the marital union of Shabbat night, then it is proper to postpone it to the following Shabbat night, for engaging in the marital union when a mutual desire and holy intention is lacking, this causes great loss to both partners, which takes much effort to redress.
It is most unfortunate that a large portion of our holy Jewish People do not know the exalted honor and level of holy relations on Shabbat night. This is due to the exile of our souls, and all of the sorrows and tribulations that surround us, which prevent our minds from having the proper exalted thoughts and intentions regarding these holy marital unions. Because of this, the Shechinah is denied the great influx of spiritual blessing contained in these unions, and the Shechinah is tragically left without joy. How sad it is that we lack the understanding of the secrets of Torah, and thus do not know or appreciate the exalted influences in the upper spiritual worlds brought about by the marital union on the nights of Shabbat. Because of this lack of holy knowledge, these unions are looked upon in a trivial, inconsequential light, G-d forbid.
My holy bothers and friends, please know in good faith, and please be cautioned, that anything that a husband or wife does to interfere with and prevent marital relations on the holy night of Shabbat, or if they mutually agree to refrain without a genuine reason that can convince the Heavenly Court of the justification for their refraining, this is a great sin, which, G-d forbid, causes themselves, and their children, exile. This exile, may G-d have mercy, can manifest itself in a wide assortment ways, including problems in the home, financial difficulties, fighting between husband and wife, even leading to their separation, G-d forbid, or other harsh punishments that I can’t bring myself to relate. May these tribulations fall only upon our enemies, the haters of Israel, and not on the husband or wife who unjustifiably caused the Shabbat night to pass without engaging in the holy marital union.
Notwithstanding the supreme importance of this, when there is a true and justifiable reason for refraining, such as sickness, excessive tiredness and weakness, or if the couple are guests and they don’t have private quarters, then their refraining is considered something forced upon them against their will, and marital relations should be postponed to the following Shabbat without further ado. In such cases, certainly the Heavenly Court will pardon them, as it says, “I have pardoned you as you have requested.”
I wish you and all of Am Yisrael that you be fruitful and multiply like mighty warriors assisted by Hashem, and that your marriage be blessed with love and intimacy between you, shalom and joyous friendship. Amen, may it be the will of G-d.