Mishpatim - Naaseh ViNishma
This week's article is dedicated to Rav Burg's sister, Becca Burg and Benji Nachshen on the occasion of their marriage. May they be zocheh to raise a Bayis Neeman B'Yisrael.
וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע
"And he took the Book of the Covenant and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said, "All that the Lord spoke we will do and we will hear." (Shemos 24:7)
One of the most famous phrases in the Torah makes its appearance in this week’s parsha. Naaseh ViNishma. We will do and we will hear. What do these words mean? What is their significance?
The Gemara in Shabbos (88a,b) discusses this phrase at length.
דרש רבי סימאי בשעה שהקדימו ישראל נעשה לנשמע באו ששים ריבוא של מלאכי השרת לכל אחד ואחד מישראל קשרו לו שני כתרים אחד כנגד נעשה ואחד כנגד נשמע
Rabbi Simai taught: When Israel accorded precedence to the declaration “We will do” over the declaration “We will hear,” 600,000 ministering angels came and tied two crowns to each and every member of the Jewish people, one corresponding to “We will do” and one corresponding to “We will hear.”
Two questions come to mind as we consider this Gemara.
1. The Gemara seems to contradict itself. Initially the Gemara seems to say that the value of Naaseh ViNishma is that we said Naaseh before we said Nishma (בשעה שהקדימו ישראל נעשה לנשמע) but then the Gemara says that the Malachim gave us two crowns, one for Naaseh and one for Nishma. Which one is it it? Did we get the crowns because we put Naaseh before Nishma or because we said both Naaseh and Nishma?
2. What exactly is the significance of the fact that we were given crowns?
The Gemara (ibid.) also tells us that in saying Naaseh ViNishma we were compared to the angels.
אמר רבי אלעזר בשעה שהקדימו ישראל נעשה לנשמע יצתה בת קול ואמרה להן מי גלה לבני רז זה שמלאכי השרת משתמשין בו דכתיב ברכו ה׳ מלאכיו גברי כח עשי דברו לשמע בקול דברו ברישא עשי והדר לשמע
Rabbi Elazar said: When the Jewish people accorded precedence to the declaration “We will do” over “We will hear,” a Divine Voice emerged and said to them: Who revealed to my children this secret that the ministering angels use? As it is written: “Bless the Lord, you angels of His, you mighty in strength, that fulfill His word, hearkening unto the voice of His word” (
). At first, the angels fulfill His word, and then afterward they hearken.
Here the Gemara is clear that it is the Naaseh before the Nishma that makes us like the angels. Still we must ask ourselves, why do the Malachim prioritize Naaseh before Nishma? Why was Hashem so amazed that Klal Yisrael attained the same level as the Malachim?
The Gemara (ibid.) tells us a very interesting story about Rava and a heretic
ההוא מינא דחזייה לרבא דקא מעיין בשמעתא ויתבה אצבעתא דידיה תותי כרעא וקא מייץ בהו וקא מבען אצבעתיה דמא אמר ליה עמא פזיזא דקדמיתו פומייכו לאודנייכו אכתי בפחזותייכו קיימיתו ברישא איבעיא לכו למשמע אי מציתו קבליתו ואי לא לא קבליתו אמר ליה אנן דסגינן בשלימותא כתיב בן תמת ישרים תנחם הנך אינשי דסגן בעלילותא כתיב בהו וסלף בוגדים ישדם
The Gemara relates that a heretic saw that Rava was immersed in studying halakha, and his fingers were beneath his leg and he was squeezing them, and his fingers were spurting blood. Rava did not notice that he was bleeding because he was engrossed in study. The heretic said to Rava: You impulsive nation, who accorded precedence to your mouths over your ears. You still bear your impulsiveness, as you act without thinking. You should listen first. Then, if you are capable of fulfilling the commands, accept them. And if not, do not accept them. He said to him: About us, who proceed wholeheartedly and with integrity, it is written: “The integrity of the upright will guide them” (
), whereas about those people who walk in deceit, it is written at the end of the same verse: “And the perverseness of the faithless will destroy them.”
Again a number of questions jump out at us:
1. What is the inner meaning of the fact that Rava was learning Torah while blood was flowing from his fingers?
2. Why now of all times does this heretic come to Rava and declare Klal Yisrael to be an impulsive and impetuous nation? What was it about the picture of Rava learning that prompted his attack?
Lastly, the Gemara (ibid.) tells us the manner in which God gave us the Torah:
ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר אמר רב אבדימי בר חמא בר חסא מלמד שכפה הקדוש ברוך הוא עליהם את ההר כגיגית ואמר להם אם אתם מקבלים התורה מוטב ואם לאו שם תהא קבורתכם אמר רב אחא בר יעקב מכאן מודעא רבה לאורייתא אמר רבא אף על פי כן הדור קבלוה בימי אחשורוש דכתיב קימו וקבלו היהודים קיימו מה שקיבלו כבר
The Torah says, “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lowermost part of the mount” (
). Rabbi Avdimi bar Ḥama bar Ḥasa said: the Jewish people actually stood beneath the mountain, and the verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, overturned the mountain above the Jews like a tub, and said to them: If you accept the Torah, excellent, and if not, there will be your burial. Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: From here there is a substantial caveat to the obligation to fulfill the Torah. The Jewish people can claim that they were coerced into accepting the Torah, and it is therefore not binding. Rava said: Even so, they again accepted it willingly in the time of Ahasuerus, as it is written: “The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them” (
), and he taught: The Jews ordained what they had already taken upon themselves through coercion at Sinai.
This is a very surprising story. God has taken Klal Yisrael out of Egypt and brought them to Har Sinai to receive the Torah. Did Klal Yisrael need to be threatened with death in order to ensure that they receive the Torah?
This is especially difficult considering that Tosafos points out that Klal Yisrael had already said Naaseh ViNishma! Though we do not yet understand the full implications of the phrase Naaseh ViNishma it is clear that Klal Yisrael was already willing to accept the Torah. Why then would Hashem have to threaten Klal Yisrael with death in order to coerce them into receiving the Torah???
Lonely But Not Alone
The natural human condition is lonely. Each one of us is an individual and fundamentally unlike any other person in this world. The Gemara in Berachos (58a) tells us that no two minds are alike, [just as] no two faces are alike. As such we find ourselves alone in our uniqueness. Understanding this helps us explain why the most basic human need is connection. We are hard wired for love and belonging. Because of our loneliness we seek to connect with others so that we are not alone in this world. We may even hide our uniqueness so that we may be a part of the crowd but in doing so we lose our sense of self. So many people today are walking around asking themselves who they are because they lead a dual life. There is the unique creativity that lies within and then the mask we wear so that we may be accepted by others. Of course this does not actually work because we have not been truly accepted by the others. They have only accepted the version of ourselves that we have chosen to show them but the unique self that lies within remains alone in the crowd.
While the true individual will forever remain lonely they do not need to remain alone. God has given us the opportunity to redeem our solitude with the institution of marriage. While two friends may be exceptionally close only in marriage can two people become intimate. Intimacy is not about closeness, it is about oneness. In marriage we are called upon to surrender ourselves to our spouse and give ourselves over completely to the other. Of course we must retain our unique identity (otherwise who would our spouse be married to?) but we take down our borders to create a share space where intimacy can occur. In a marriage two people who are totally unique become one. They remain lonely but they are no longer alone.
Unfortunately, many couples today find themselves alone in their marriages. There may be respectful communication, family vacations etc... but the marriage itself is not working. When pressed to explain what is not working the marriage the couple cannot identify a specific challenge except to say that they feel deeply alone. That is not to say that they do not have complaints in the marriage, they certainly do! Perhaps the wife would like her husband to spend less time in the office or the husband would like the wife to be more careful in her spending. However, if we asked the wife would you be satisfied in this marriage if your husband would be home more, if we asked the husband would you be satisfied in this marriage if your wife was more frugal, they would surely answer no. The complaints of the marriage are only a symptom of the fundamental problem that exists, namely the lack of intimacy (oneness).
Having diagnosed the challenge in marriage today as the lack of intimacy, the question now becomes how do we achieve true oneness in our marriages?
As we said above, intimacy requires surrender. We have to open up our borders so that we can share our unique space with our spouse. As our spouse in turn does the same for us, two unique spaces now become one shared space of individuality and connection. The challenge of intimacy is narcissism. As long as we are self focused we fail to invite another into a shared space. The space where intimacy is meant to occur is dominated by our own ego and thus fails to meet the basic criteria necessary for oneness. In such a marriage a couple may find themselves feeling terribly alone. The family is functioning but there is no one shared space of love and connection. They live in the same house but they do not share a home. There is no sense of belonging to something larger than themselves, no sense of belonging to each other.
The narcissism in marriage is not always readily apparent. In an extreme case one of the spouses will be totally self absorbed, doing whatever they please whenever they please. Most marriages are not like that. The husband may exceptionally dutiful as he provides for his family, helps the children with their homework and even spends time listening to his wife. Yet somehow it is not enough for the wife. What is missing? On the outside the husband seems to be the model spouse. No ego seems to be present. Why does the wife still feel alone?
While we should not discount the very real possibility that some people are simply a bottomless pit and there is nothing we can do to fill them up, most people are not like that. The wife in this case may be picking up on something that is interrupting the oneness of the relationship. Perhaps the husband is the perfect spouse not because he is other focused but because he wants to be the perfect spouse. He spends time with his wife listening to her and validating her experiences but not because that is what she needs but because he enjoys being a "good husband". While the husband appears to have given himself over to his wife, he is not truly surrendered to her. The space the husband has created is built on his own ego and thus there is no space for the wife to occupy. She is, in a word, alone.
The Mishna in Avos (5:19) tells us that "Any love which is dependent on something, when the ‘something’ ceases, the love ceases. Any love which is not dependent on anything will never cease." In the above case the husband is not truly connected to his wife, he simply enjoys "things" about her. What happens when the husband no longer wants to be the "good husband"? What happens when the wife criticizes this husband and he is no longer in the mood to be a dutiful listener? Because the love was built on his own ego, when the ego no longer needs the relationship the marriage will fall apart. The marriage has always existed on his own terms and when the terms are no longer being met the marriage no longer serves his purpose. While such a couple may remain married, they lack intimacy. It is no wonder that the wife will describe herself as being alone. She may have a husband who appears to be at her beck and call but deep down she knows/feels the fragility of her relationship. The moment that the husband no longer wants to participate in the relationship, the marriage is over. There is no sense of true connection to the other and thus no sense of obligation and loyalty.
How can one ascertain if their ego is dominating their marriage?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I interested in what my spouse has to say because I enjoy knowing things about them? Am I interested in what my spouse has to say because I have given myself over to them completely?
Do I love my spouse because of the way it makes me feel? Do I love my spouse because of the way it makes them feel?
When I am asked by my spouse to do something is my first response yes or why?
In the ego driven marriage the couple is inwardly focused. They love their spouse not because of the way it makes their spouse feel but because of the way it makes them feel.
In the ego driven marriage, when their spouse asks them to do something their initial reaction is to ask why they should do it. If they understand the need for the task then it will be done. If they don't understand the need for the task, it will not be done. Because the marriage is built on ego, services are only provided when they understand the need for it.
In the surrendered marriage, the relationship is other focused. Our spouse is loved not because we enjoy loving but because we have given ourselves over completely. Not only our minds but also our hearts.
In the surrendered marriage when our spouse asks us to perform a task our initial reaction is that we have been given an opportunity to serve. As such our natural response is to grab the opportunity and only afterwards to ask what the task requires of us. To first ask why our spouse wants this task indicates that the relationship is about ourselves and not about the other.
In the ego driven marriage two lonely people remain alone. In the surrendered marriage two lonely people have redeemed their loneliness by creating a space where they are no longer alone.
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Why do we need the institution of marriage? Even without marriage people can get together and build a family. Why can't we have a surrendered relationship without actually getting married?
Why do we need to stand under a chuppah (wedding canopy) to create a commitment to each other? Could we not be committed without a marriage ceremony?
Reasonable questions like these have led to the deterioration of the institution of marriage in modern times. Coupled with an alarmingly high divorce rate, it is no wonder that people see marriage as a pointless exercise rooted in ancient times.
In truth, when we understand the deeper nature of the marriage ceremony, it becomes readily apparent that now more than ever this ceremony is mission critical to the creation of intimacy.
As we have shown above, only in the surrendered marriage is the creation of oneness possible. In the ego driven marriage two people can connect with each other but because the marriage is inwardly focused, they remain two distinct entities. Like a torn cloth that has been sown together, the oneness is not absolute. In the surrendered marriage intimacy is possible but there is still one element of ego that needs to be nullified for there to be absolute oneness. As we will demonstrate, the marriage ceremony is not merely a demonstration of the couples commitment to each other but the prerequisite to creating an intimate relationship.
The surrendered relationship only works if the ego is totally nullified. To the degree that ego exists, intimacy is not achieved. But how can someone say that their ego is truly nullified if they are making the choice to be in the relationship? The choice to be in the relationship is by its very nature ego driven. One can be totally focused on the other in the relationship but if the relationship is built on ego, true oneness cannot be achieved. The solution to this challenge is marriage.
The marriage ceremony in Judaism is more than just an expression of commitment. It is the removal of choice from the relationship. When first hearing this idea, people may be uncomfortable with the concept of removing choice. Choice is what makes us uniquely human. Without choice we feel as if we lack dignity. Without choice we may feel trapped in a relationship. We are no longer the subject but the object being acted upon.
In our vision of marriage, the couple makes a choice to commit to each other and then takes the last step towards intimacy by removing that choice. Standing under the chuppah is the ultimate act of intimacy. It is the statement that all ego in the relationship is being removed. I am yours not because I choose to be but because from here on our I am "coerced" into being in this relationship. Of course, should the marriage become immoral (not just infidelity - an abusive marriage is immoral as well), Hashem provides us with the Mitzvah of divorce. However, in difficult times in the relationship, those that have stood under the chuppah with each other remain loyal to the relationship. Because choice has been removed from the relationship there is a safety that neither party is going to exit when the going gets tough. For a surrendered relationship to exist, there needs to be a context where all ego is nullified. Marriage provides that context. Now that I am yours completely, it follows that the relationship will be totally focused on the other. My head belongs to you. My heart belongs to you. Given the chance to serve, I will grab the opportunity and only afterwards seek to understand why this is important to you. And the motivation in asking why is only so that I may better serve you.
Only in such a relationship can true oneness be achieved.
Naaseh ViNishma or Nishma ViNaaseh
With these concepts in mind, the difference between Nishma ViNaaseh (we will listen and we will do) and Naaseh ViNishma (we will do and we will listen) become obvious. Nishma does not simply mean to listen but to understand. In a relationship where we first need to understand before we can commit to performance (Nishma ViNaaseh), true oneness with Hashem cannot be achieved. On the outside we may appear to be God's devoted servants but in truth we are only serving God on our terms. We may learn Torah but only because we enjoy the intellectual stimulation. We may even serve God with passion but only because we enjoy the experience of an emotional relationship. Closing our eyes and singing with passion at a Tisch is indeed a pleasurable experience but if a person is inwardly focused it is not an expression of cleaving to God. It is an ego driven relationship. One who is motivated by ego in their relationship with God may be frustrated that despite their perfect service they still feel detached from God. It is no wonder they feel this way, no space for a relationship has been created and thus they continue to feel alone.
On the other hand, someone who declares Naaseh ViNishma, we will do and only afterwards will we seek to understand why, is one with God. The ego of needing to first understand why has been removed. The performance of Mitzvos is done on God's terms. We learn Torah because God wants our entire self. Serving Hashem without understanding the nature of the Mitzvah is a failure to bring God into every aspect of our being. Similarly we are commanded to love God because without giving our emotions over to God, oneness has not been achieved. In a surrendered relationship we create space for God to enter into our lives. The Kotzker Rebbe was asked, where can one find God. He responded that God can be found wherever we let Him in. In the surrendered relationship we can experience the joy of true intimacy with God. While we remain unique (lonely) we are no longer alone.
With this in mind we can begin to answer some of the questions that were asked at the outset of this article.
We pointed out that initially the Gemara seemed to say that the value of Naaseh ViNishma is that we said Naaseh before we said Nishma (בשעה שהקדימו ישראל נעשה לנשמע) but then the Gemara says that the Malachim gave us two crowns, one for Naaseh and one for Nishma. We asked, did we get the crowns because we put Naaseh before Nishma or because we said both Naaseh and Nishma? Further, we asked what is the significance of the fact that we were given crowns?
The reason we were given two crowns was because we said both Naaseh and Nishma (as per the simple understanding of the Gemara) but had they been said in the reverse order true intimacy with God would not have been achieved. In saying Naaseh ViNishma our egos were nullified and we became one with God. The crowns we were gifted with represented our total connection to God. A king’s crown distinguishes him from his people so that they can subjugate themselves to him. The subjects of a sovereign are called “subjects of the crown” due to their loyalty, and nullification to the crown and its authority. In saying Nasseh ViNishma we became subjects of the crown. Our oneness with God connected us to His crown.
On a deeper level, Keter refers to one of the most transcendent levels of Godliness. When God created the world he did so with a concept called Sefiros. A Sefirah is a channel of Divine energy or life-force through which God reveals Himself. Creation began with God's infinite light and culminated with the finite world. In the intermediate stage there are ten divine channels of energy (Ten Sefiros) that emanated from God's infinite light to create finite reality. The level of Keter is beyond all of the Sefiros. Just as the crown is not a part of the head or the body but distinct from it (see Maharal Derech HaChayim 4, 13), so too Keter is essentially distinct from the other Sefiros. It is the first emanation, and as such the "lowest level" as it were, of God Himself. That is why Keter is called "the most hidden of all hidden" ("temira dechol temirin"), and is referred to as "nothing" ("Ayin"). These terms signify the total concealment of the rank of Keter due to its supreme sublimity.
In fact, Keter is such a transcendent level of Godliness that we can't actually speak about it. It is completely beyond human comprehension. While all of the other Sefiros are represented by one of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (yud - chochma, hei - bina, vav - the unit of the six middot from chesed to yesod, hei - malchut), Keter is represented by the kutzo shel Yud, the uppermost point of the Yud. A letter expresses a concept. Keter is so sublime that no letter can express its meaning. At most we can say that it is the dot above the highest letter.
The role of Keter is to act as an intermediary between the finite world and the Creator Himself. As with any bridge, the intermediary must contain two parts: ie. the factors it shares in common with the two levels between which it mediates. This may described as the head of the lower level and the lowest part of the upper level. Because Keter sits in between the infinite light and the Sefiros it contains parts of both the infinite light and the Sefiros. In this ways when new light emanates from Keter it rejuvenates all of the Sefiros.
In addition to meaning “crown,” the root keter means “to wait.” What is the connection between waiting and crown? Just as the crown sits above the head of the King, Keter is the highest of the Sefiros. It represents God's essential Divinity that in our world is absolutely hidden and beyond consciousness. We "wait" in perfect faith, for that level of God’s essential Divinity to become revealed in the consciousness of the world to come. In the world to come "crown" represents the ability to to receive and integrate into one’s consciousness the pleasure of Divine revelation. This is the inner meaning of what Chazal said (Kalah Rabasi 2:3) "in the world to come the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and receive pleasure from the radiance of the Divine Presence.”
The Ten Sefiros have their parallel in the ten Sefiros in the Human Soul. Just as man reveals himself through his attributes, so too does God reveal Himself through the Sefiros. But how exactly does the human soul express itself? If the human soul is beyond all description, beyond all thought and beyond all emotion (the ten sefiros are divided into two categories: three levels of intellect and seven levels of emotion), how does the transcendent soul give rise to thought and emotions? The answer is that it does so through the Sefira of Keter. Keter has two levels, an external dimension and an internal dimension. The external dimension of Keter is Ratzon, will. Ratzon is a general power, all encompassing and unlimited. It is not contained by any particular part or function of the body. And while Ratzon is not the essence of the soul, it is an extension and a reflection of the soul. It is the first state of movement from the soul to the faculties which express it. The internal dimension of Keter is called Taanug, delight. Taanug is the motivating force of all activity, including Ratzon.
Just as the Human soul has two dimensions of Keter so too in the upper Sefiros. The external level of God's will which transcends all worlds is called Arich Anpin (corresponding to Ratzon) and the internal level is called Atik (corresponding to Taanug). Through Keter the infinite light which is beyond all description is able to give rise to the finite world. Naaseh and Nishma correspond to the two levels of Keter. In saying Naaseh before Nishma we became one with Hashem and thus merited that the two levels of Keter within the Human soul were now crowned with the two crowns of the upper Sefiros.
With this in mind we can appreciate the significance of the the gematria of Keter (כתר) which is 620. This corresponds to the text of the Ten Commandments which is comprised of 620 letters. The Torah itself is described as having a crown (Avos 4:13). The Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah (3:1) says: "Three crowns were conferred upon Israel: the crown of priesthood, the crown of royalty, and the crown of Torah. Aaron merited the crown of priesthood, as it is stated (
): "And it will be an eternal covenant of priesthood for him and his descendants after him." David merited the crown of royalty, as it is stated (
): "His seed will continue forever, and his throne will be as the sun before Me." The crown of Torah is set aside, waiting and ready for each Jew, as it is stated (
): "The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Yaakov." Whoever desires may come and take it. Lest you say that the other crowns surpass the crown of Torah, surely it is stated (
): "By me, kings reign, princes decree justice, and nobles rule." Thus, you have learned that the crown of Torah is greater than the other two." In saying Naaseh ViNishma we were zocheh to the crowns that connected to the entirety of the Torah (that inhere within the Ten Commandments).
It is now clear why a Bas Kol compared us to the Malachim when saying Naaseh before Nishma. A Malach has free choice but because of the truth of God's reality the Malach is totally surrendered to God. Similarly, when Klal Yisrael said Naaseh before Nishma we totally surrendered ourselves to God and became one with God like the Malachim. Hashem was amazed that a human being who does not perceive God's reality as clearly as the Malachim could reach their level of surrender. Thus God's question, who revealed this secret of the Malchim to my children.
We can now readily understand the inner meaning of the story with Rava and the heretic. Rava was completely surrendered to God. All he wanted to do was perform God's will. Rava had no arrogant need of his own to understand the meaning of the Mitzvos but if God wanted him to understand so that he could be completely given over to God, he would do so. This was the meaning behind the posture of Rava. He was sitting and learning but he tucked his hands under his legs because he had to hold himself back from running to perform the Mitzvos. His desire to engage in the Naaseh was so strong that his hands were literally bleeding from the pressure he was exerting on them. Seeing the heretic could not undertsand the impulsivity of Klal Yisrael. Our desire to serve/connect Hashem is so strong that we literally need to push ourselves to understand. Not so the nations of the world who will only serve when it is on their own terms.
Removing Choice - Holding The Mountain Over Our Heads
By now it should be clear that saying Naaseh ViNishma is an exceedingly high level. Why then did Hashem hold the mountain over our head and threaten us with death if we did not receive the Torah? We had already said Naaseh Vinishma!
However, just as we demonstrated above, even in a Naaseh ViNishma relationship there is still some vestige of ego as we make the choice to serve God. Holding the mountain over our head was not a threat but the ultimate act of love. Now we were not arrogantly choosing to serve God because we had no choice! In this way we are totally surrendered to God. With no ego whatsoever in the relationship we can create true intimacy in our relationship with Hashem.
This explains why the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai is always compared to a marriage as the Medrash in Vayikra Rabbah Acharei Mot (20) says:
ביום חתונתו וביום שמחת לבו, ביום חתונתו זה הר סיני, וביום שמחת לבו זה אהל מועד
“On the day of his marriage and on the day of the joy of his heart;” on the day of his marriage, this is Har Sinai, on the day of the joy of his heart, this is the Ohel Moed.
The Tashbetz writes (Sec. 467, quoting the MaHaram M’Rutenburg) wedding customs tosay derive from Hashem’s marriage with the Jewish people: “Bear the following principle in mind — we derive all the customs of groom and bride from Matan Torah, where God appeared as a groom before the Jewish people, the bride.”
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his volume, Made in Heaven (p.144), explains the chuppah also recalls the revelation at Har Sina Sinai. "The revelation at Sinai is seen as the marriage between God and Israel, and many marriage laws and customs are derived from the Sinai experience. It is taught that before giving the Torah to the Israelites God held the mountain over their heads. The mountain over their heads was like the chuppah under which the bridal couple stands."
Even the text of the birchas kiddushin reads, “He Who sanctifies His nation, Israel, through chuppah and kiddushin.” In other words, God is considered the “husband,” the Jewish people are considered His “wife,” and God betrothed the Jewish people. We bless the new couple that their wedding be similar to the wedding of Hashem and Klal Yisrael. Just as our union with God at Har Sinai was where we became absolutely one with Hashem, we bless this new union that they too become truly united. In this way they will be zocheh to build a Bayis Neeman B'Yisrael.