Ask the Rabbi

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
Dear Readers,
As I prepare for the holy day of Shavuot in the holy land of Israel, I would like to share a few thoughts. It’s hard to describe the joy of performing my own son’s wedding in Israel, just a few days before the day of receiving the Torah.
As we discussed under the chuppah, the first chuppah for the Jewish people was, according to our tradition, when the Al-mighty held Mt. Sinai over the heads of the Jewish people, thereby cementing our matrimony with G-d. The rules of that love relationship are outlined in the Torah.
In the blessing recited under the chuppah we thank G-d who forbade for us illicit relations, and permitted for us our wives through chuppah and kiddushin (matrimony). The terminology used in this blessing begs understanding: The word “forbidden” is asar, which literally means “tied”; “permitted” is hitir, which means “untied.” This terminology is found throughout rabbinic literature.
G-d gave us this world to enjoy. Nearly all pleasures created in this world are for us to partake of, albeit within the guidelines He prescribed. When we enjoy earthly pleasures in the prescribed way, we elevate that physical pleasure to a transcendental level, and it becomes part of our eternal spiritual state. Those pleasures are permitted, “untied” from their earthliness and able to soar to the heights when we enjoy them properly. Certain pleasures, however, remain asur or tied down to this world, as they have no way of being sanctified, such as forbidden foods or relations.
A wedding is a time, from the chuppah and onward, to elevate an entire household and all that transpires within. Especially in a place of holiness like Israel, the potential is amazing! May we all merit to be there soon!
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at

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