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Yoni Mozeson
Yoni Mozeson

A wedding in Jerusalem – a harbinger of Messianic times. 

It would seem fanciful to make such an assertion if not for the fact that the Midrash explicitly says so.

According to Midrash Tanchuma, Moshe promised that the miracles experienced by the Jews while receiving the Torah in the desert will be repeated at the end of days. So, for example,  just as when the Jews were receiving the Torah they achieved such a high level of sensory perception that they could “see” sounds:

 וְכָל־הָעָם֩ רֹאִ֨ים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹ֜ת 

                 All the people saw the sounds…” (Exodus 20:15)

At the end of days, the Jewish People will once again experience miraculous sounds. The sounds of a wedding. But not any wedding. A wedding in Jerusalem.

ק֣וֹל שָׂשׂ֞וֹן וְק֣וֹל שִׂמְחָ֗ה ק֣וֹל חָתָן֮ וְק֣וֹל כַּלָּה֒ 

“.. the sound of joy and gladness, the sound of bridegroom and bride,” (Yirmiyahu 33:11) 

A wedding that attests to the growing love between God and the Jewish People 

Consider for a moment how remote it was for Jews to imagine, over our long, dark exile, that there will once again be a Wedding in Jerusalem? Let me paraphrase Rabbi Binyamin Epstein of Zhitomir (Ukraine), whose commentary on Midrash Tanchuma, Nachalat Biyamin, was published in 1898.

“This Midrash strengthens our resolve and repairs our broken spirit. It prevents us from being in despair about our redemption when we see that our land has been desolate for thousands of years. We are reminded that the miracles we experienced in the desert – will occur once again in Zion – which (right now) appears to be a desert.”

The primary commentator to Midrash Tanchuma, Be-er Ha-amorim, clearly sees this Midrash as simply a metaphor for a rekindling of the love between God and the Jewish People. It will be as intense at the end of days as it was at the giving of the Torah.

On the other hand, the Talmud says that making a bride and groom happy at their wedding is like restoring  a destroyed dwelling in Jerusalem: 

רַב נַחְמָן בַּר יִצְחָק אָמַר: כְּאִילּוּ בָּנָה אַחַת מֵחוּרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ״כִּי אָשִׁיב אֶת שְׁבוּת הָאָרֶץ כְּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה אָמַר ה׳״

“Rabbi Nachman the son of Yitzchak said that gladdening the heart of the bride and groom is like rebuilding one of the destroyed buildings of Jerusalem as it says: ‘For I will restore the land from captivity – as it was in the beginning.—said God.’” (Yirmiyahu 33:11: Talmud Brachot 6b)

However, there is another Midrash which reminds us that like with any relationship, timing is critical:

Don’t awaken love before its time. 

Midrash Tanchuma introduces the idea of “The Three Oaths” which governs the conditions upon which we can return to Israel at the end of days. The fact that there exists such restrictions is derived from a verse in the Song of Songs. God made us swear not to try to awaken love before its time. 

הִשְׁבַּ֨עְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֜ם בְּנ֤וֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַ֙ם֙ .. וְֽאִם־תְּעֽוֹרְר֛וּ אֶת־הָאַהֲבָ֖ה עַ֥ד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּֽץ׃

“I adjure you, maidens of Jerusalem, … Do not awaken love until it is desired” (Song of Songs: 2:7)

These are the 3 oaths:

.. שֶׁלֹּא יְגַלּוּ אֶת הַקֵּץ. וְאַחַת, שֶׁלֹּא יִדְחֲקוּ אֶת הַקֵּץ. וְאַחַת, שֶׁלֹּא יִמְרְדוּ עַל הַמַּלְכֻיּוֹת

“…not to reveal the end time of the exile, (Secondly) not to forcibly end the exile,  (Lastly) not to rebel against the ruling nations of the world.” (Midrash Tanchuma Devorim: 4:1)

The Three Oaths are also discussed in the Talmud concerning the same verse from Song of Songs. However the description of the Oaths are somewhat different:

ההוא מיבעי ליה לכדרבי יוסי ברבי חנינא דאמר גשבועות הללו למה אחת שלא יעלו ישראל בחומה ואחת שהשביע הקבה את ישראל שלא ימרדו באומות העולם ואחת שהשביע הקבה את העובדי כוכבים שלא ישתעבדו בהן בישראל יותר מדאי

“Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: … One, that the Jews should not ascend to Eretz Yisrael as a wall (on mass) , rather, little by little. And another one, that the Holy One, Blessed be He, adjured the Jews that they should not rebel against the rule of the nations of the world. And the last one is that the Holy One, Blessed be He, adjured the nations of the world that they should not subjugate the Jews excessively.” (Ketubot 111A)

 The world most certainly broke their side of the bargain.

These three oaths, and specifically the oath that the nations of the world shall not persecute Jews excessively, helped give rise to Religious Zionism. The Holocaust (along with the Inquisition, the crusades, and an abundance of massacres and progroms) most certainly annulled the oaths. Not to mention, that the Balfour declaration and the subsequent United Nations resolutions declaring Israel a State, signified that we had the world’s consent and we were not attempting to force the end of the exile.

The return to Israel has, indeed, been gradual. Although Israel is now home to the largest single population of Jews in the world.

So next time you sing “Kol Chatan Vekol Kallah” ק֣וֹל חָתָן֮ וְק֣וֹל כַּלָּה֒ at a  wedding anywhere in the world, you should feel like you’re rebuilding Jerusalem. However, next time you are at a wedding in Jerusalem, you should feel like you’re also rebuilding the relationship between God and the Jewish People.

About the Author
After college and Semicha at Yeshiva University my first pulpit was Ogilvy where I wrote TV commercials for brands like American Express, Huggies and Duracell. My passion is Midrash Tanchuma. I am an Architect of Elegant Marketing Solutions at www.mindprintmarketing.com. We are living in (where else) the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
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