Parsha Mitzvot: Ki Teitzei: Mitzvah 539 & Concepts 122 & 123
“Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us…” is a blessing we recite at least two times each day. We recite these words as we wash our hands in the morning and before eating a meal with bread, and before Torah study. We recite the blessing once each week before lighting Shabbat candles.
We also recite these words on a yearly basis, or even a number of times during the year: Yom Kippur candles, Festival candles, Succah, Lulav, Matzah, Maror, and Shofar.
I always wondered why we recite this blessing only once before marriage. It takes constant effort to sanctify a relationship. Would it not make sense to make the blessing at least once a year on our wedding anniversary? Did we fulfill the Mitzvah at the wedding? If yes, do we believe that a relationship is holy because of the wedding and not also the constant attention we pay to making the marriage holy? Is there no commandment to regularly sanctify the relationship between husband and wife?
“If a man marries a wife,” we are commanded to acquire a wife by means of Ketubah and Kiddushin. (Rambam, Hilchot Ishut – The Laws of Marriage, Concept # 122) There shall not be a promiscuous woman among the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a promiscuous man among the sons of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 23:18) We may not have relations with women not thus acquired. (Concept # 123)
The Sefat Emet explains that the meaning of “Who sanctified us with His commandments,” is that God designed our souls to be triggered to ascend when we fulfill these commandments.
A switch is flicked on when we fulfill a Mitzvah. Our souls are energized and ready; the sanctification of marriage is that everything we do from that moment on will be an expression of our soul existing on a higher level. A sanctified marriage will express itself in everything we do. All is triggered in that first moment.
We remember Sinai as the Sanctification of our “marriage” to God. We recall Sinai daily because we want to connect everything we do to that moment when our souls were triggered.
We remember the Sanctification of our relationships with the same perspective: We reconnect to that first moment when our souls rose to a higher level. We always go back to the beginning.
This is also what we do during Elul, the month of love, “I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me.” We reconnect to the first moments of our relationship with God and do all we can to keep that connection vibrant and alive.
Elul is also the month when we reconnect to the opening moments of our marriage, when the blessing was recited, when our souls were triggered. We do not recite another blessing each year, because we live with that first blessing.