Through the lens of Kabbalah: the story of Yitzchak and Rivkah

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Yitzhak and Rivka are among the most famous characters in the Torah. What is less known, however, that according to  the Kabbalah, they symbolize two most fundamental concepts in the whole Creation. Chassidic masters explain: the marriage between Yitzchak and Rivkah is a matter of general importance. Now wonder that more than 60 verses in the Torah portion of “Chayei Sarah” describe the quest of Abraham’s Servant Eliezer to find a bride for Yitzchak.

The Alter Rebbe (in his book ‘Likkutei Torah’) describes their marriage as a reflection of an important Kabbalah concept – “the unity between Mah and Ban.

To grasp the idea, let’s begin with at least a short explanation. In fact, “Ma” and “Ban” are the terms which refer to two different expressions of the Name of haShem. In Kabbalah, the difference between them results from two varying ways of calculating the millui of the Divine Name.

 

“Mah”

This name is the third of the four possible milluim of the Name of haShem. Its gematria equals 45, as shown on the illustration 👇:

In the Torah the name “Mah” is personified by Itzchak, because this name generally is connected to the righteous individuals (tzaddikim), who spread the light of haShem in the world.

 

“Ban”

The name Ban is another of the four fillings of the Name of haShem, and it is considered to be the lower of the four possible combinations of that Divine Name. Its gematria equals 52, as shown below 👇:

Figuratively, this name is described as “an animal” whereas the name “Mah” is called “a man”.

On the individual level, Mah refers to the soul and Ban to the body. On a bigger scale, Mah refers to G‑d, and Ban to the Jewish people as they exist within this world. To bring about harmony, Mah and Ban have to be in unity.

Before the Torah was given, spirituality and physicality, body and soul, were two distinct entities and it was the giving of the Torah which allowed for the establishment of the unity mentioned above. As the Rebbe points out, in the Era of the Redemption, the unity achieved through our Torah service will be revealed in the world at large.

 

The unity of Mah and Ban

The concept that the marriage between Yitzchak and Rivkah epitomized the unity between Mah and Ban is reflected in the Torah’s narrative. Rivkah lived in Charan, a materially oriented place (Ban). Eliezer was sent to bring her to Yitzchak who through the spiritual service of the Akeidah became consecrated as “a perfect offering” (Mah). Afterwards, Rivkah and Yitzchak married, establishing unity.


Under the circumstances, the union between Yitzchak and Rivkah could not develop on its own. It was the shlichut, the mission of Eliezer, which brought about this unity. According to the ‘Seder haDorot’ this happened in the year 2100. In the year 2448 (348 year later) this paradigm of oneness was brought to fruition through the giving of Torah. However, the culmination of this unity will take place in the Era of the Redemption.

This is the ultimate goal of our generation – to bring about that new era. And every effort to hasten its coming can be compared to the mission of Eliezer in the Torah portion of “Chayei Sarah” – the most important shlichut of its time.

Based on the Rebbe’s Talk (Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sarah, 25th Day of MarCheshvan, 5752).

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