Some men feel they are blessed because the women they marry are gifts from God. I feel this way. Not all loving relationships are arranged in heaven; but if you are in one of them you should thank God. I do.
At first, I thought it was just love that made our relationship so great. But as the years passed, we married in 1966, I realized more and more that my wife is a gift from God. Since I am a Rabbi, it is not surprising that I think about life in religious terms. I am also a student and teacher of Jewish mysticism, so I often use Kabbalah concepts to explore and understand one of the most profound of life’s personal spiritual experiences.
Although I thank God for my wife every day, it is when we make love that I feel closest to her and to God. Rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, said (in Zava’at ha- Riva’sh), “Prayer is intercourse with the Shekinah” (the feminine presence of God).
I would add that intercourse with a God given Shekinah wife is a divine service because one is always aware of God’s presence and blessing. As Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph the convert, taught, “Husband and wife: if they are worthy, Shekinah abides between them; if not, fire consumes them.” (Talmud: Sotah 17a)
Most Jews know that sexual activities between a husband and wife are a Mitzvah – a Jewish responsibility. Many Jews know that lovemaking on Shabbat is a double Mitzvah. Some Jews know that the Kabbalah (the Jewish mystical tradition) teaches that the Shekinah (the feminine presence of God) rests on a Jewish man when he makes love to his Jewish wife on Shabbat.
Actually, the Shekinah can rest on a man whenever he makes love to his wife with a sense of reverence, tenderness, adoration and love. The Shabbat adds holiness and choosiness to their feelings. Non-Orthodox Rabbis have expanded all these principles to apply potentially to any and every loving couple, gay or straight. I will continue to use the traditional gender terms so that the radical teachings in the Jewish mystical tradition about sexuality remain evident.
In the past the esoteric details of how to elevate their lovemaking into a Tikun, a re-pair of fractured relationships in society and nature, were transmitted orally and very discreetly from mother to daughter. These details were based on the seventh chapter of the Song of Songs, a Biblical book that Rabbi Akiba proclaimed the holiest song in the entire Scriptures.
A wife who desires to enable her husband to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tikun coupling should direct him to begin by kissing and creaming her feet (Song of Songs 7:2). Then she should direct him to slowly and reverently work his way up to her crowning flowing hair that entangles a King/God, (7:6) thus allowing him to climb the palm tree (7:9) and perform the unification below which is woven into the unification above. Over the years, the spiritual uplift of this Tikun becomes greater and greater.”
Sex should not be an individual experience. A Hasidic Rabbi, Yitzhak Saphrin taught; “The Divine Spirit does not rest on an unmarried man; because Holy Inspiration is derived from one’s wife.” Sex should always involve a loving pair; and Tikun sex is a loving re-pair of unholy estrangement.
But with the rise of modern rationalism very few Jews today understand that Jewish couples who make love with an awareness that the Shekinah is present through a wife’s love and a husband’s reverence, have the power to repair fractured hopes and intentions in those close to them; thus helping to elevate broken spirits both near and far. This is called a Tikun-a spiritual re-pair.
This Tikun not only enhances the spiritual bonds of their own marriage; but each time they enact this Tikun, helps repair or elevate another relationship that is a participating part of the couple’s, especially the wife’s, relationships. When I make love with my wife, I always do so with the awareness of the Jewish mystical teaching about the Shekinah – the feminine presence of God resting upon a man who makes love to his wife on Shabbat.
The key attitude for each husband is the feeling that my wife is God’s gift, the source of my blessings, and a most wonderful manifestation of God’s holy presence in my life.
If in addition to this attitude, a man also makes love to his wife with the intention of unifying the heavenly realm as he unifies the earthly one, he and his wife enact a great Tikun – a spiritual re-pair or uplifting which can also affect other people.
This Tikun is woven together with similar Tikunim from other married couples into a crown for the Holy One who also unites with His Shekinah on Shabbat and Jewish holy days. Just as the prayers proclaimed in each Synagogue are woven into a crown for the Holy One of Israel, so too are the holy unifications (Tikunim) of each married couple woven into a crown.”
The active intention of the husband is required to start the Tikun process, although it is the Shekinah wife who provides the transforming energy. As the Zohar says, “A male desiring to cling to a female emits a seed of anointing (his holy intention) from the top of his brain into his phallus; it pours into the female who thus conceives. Thus, every smooth member of his body joins the female, and the female embraces all.” (2:86a)
A Shekinah wife embodies and radiates joyful holiness to others, elevating and inspiring them over time. In the past the esoteric details of how to elevate their lovemaking into a Tikun were transmitted orally and very discreetly from mother to daughter. We are the first generation to live in a world that is being transformed by gender equality.
The 2,500 year old prophecy of Jeremiah is being fulfilled before our eyes. “God will create a new thing on the earth- females will surround males.” (Jeremiah 31:22) Now that female Rabbis are all around us, these details based on the seventh chapter of the Song of Songs, can be revealed and understood. My book God, Sex and Kabbalah provides loving couples with helpful perspectives.
Although most Jews know it is a Mitzvah to make love to your wife on Shabbat, very few Jews know that the great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), developed several Tikunim, referred to as Tikunay Hatzot mid night spiritual exercises. Exactly how personal private Tikunim are able to influence other people and situations is inexplicable, yet with patience, hope and trust many impossible situations get resolved.
Every Jewish wife partakes of some aspects of Leah and some aspects of Rachel. Like Leah, every woman is potentially very fruitful, both emotionally and physically. Like Rachel, every woman is potentially spellbinding and enthralling.
When her husband regards his wife as a gift from God and loves her totally, faithfully and submissively (egoless), his lovemaking and partnership being more to give her pleasure than for his own pleasure, he realizes and actualizes her blessings and God’s blessings. This is especially important when stress makes her weep openly or inside. All forms of Tikun Hatzot stress this.
“Sexual activity prior to midnight increases the aspect of Leah. Sexual activity after midnight and in the predawn or early morning hours increases the aspect of Rachel.
Sexual intercourse with Leah, helps to reduce negative actions and situations in family and personal affairs. Sexual intercourse during the second part of the night and early morning, increases the aspect of Rachel who ascends in the morning as Matronita, the ruling presence of Shekinah.
Elevating Matronita helps avoid the worst case public scenarios we fear and helps increases the number of our small but important contributions to the improvement of Jewish and world society. One who regards his wife as a gift from God will pray in her intimate presence.
These Tikunim should be done every Shabbat for as Rabbi Judah ben Yakar (c.1200) said, “Our Mitzvah of marital coupling is derived from what the Holy One said to Shabbat, -the community of Israel will be your mate-” Thus Israel sanctifies the Shabbat, and a Jewish husband sanctifies his Jewish wife. If they desire, he should also adore his wife at least once or twice during the weekdays.
These Tikunim are not magic, but if done faithfully they always have a positive impact over time. A Hasidic mystic, Rabbi Nathan Hanover, adds, “After you perform Tikun Hatzot, prepare yourself and unify the Holy One with Shekinah by making your body, each and every limb, a chariot for Shekinah.”
Thus, sexual activity should end with the wife above, feeling she is Shekinah – the ruling Matronita, blessing her husband and rising to heaven, with her husband below her, feeling that he serves as a mystical Merkavah-chariot (like the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) elevating her to the heavens. This helps actualize their thoughts and desires and promotes remedies, rectifications, and blessings for those around them and throughout the world.
For more insights and information about sacred sexuality see pages 245-255 in my new book Which Religion Is Right For You? a Kuzari for the 21st century. Hadassa Word Press ISBN (978-620-2-45517-6) on Amazon