Marriage, love and and its mechanics
There’s an idiom, marriages are made in heaven. This idiom comes from the Gemara, which states,
“Heaven decrees that this woman is to be the wife of this man.”
The Medrash Rabbah, Medrash Tanchumah and Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai state the following:
“A Roman matron once asked Rabbi Yosi ben Chalafta, ‘Now that G-d has finished creating the universe, what does He do?’ The rabbi replied that G-d now makes matches, bringing couples together so that they can marry each other.”
Not only does G-d bring couples together, He can bring a man and a woman together from opposites sides of the world. In fact, every match is like the creation of a new world. Regarding marriage, Rabbi Manis Friedman says something profound:
“One doesn’t marry someone because they love them. Rather, one loves someone because they are married to them. Yet, a person loves a lot of people. Why should he limit himself to one person? Love everybody. Nevertheless, you only marry one person.”
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l has a different perspective on love. He notes that the Hebrew word for love, אַהֲבָה, has the numerical value of thirteen. This is the same as the numerical value of the Hebrew word אחד meaning “one.”
In its deepest sense, love takes two people and makes them into one. The love between parent and child exists because parent and child feel like one. They are part of the same family and feel a bond of unity. The bond between man and woman reflects this. However, until a person marries, his strongest love is naturally directed toward his parents. After marriage, it is directed toward his soulmate.
Here are few extremes quotes regarding love. One man said of his wife, “When the love between us was intense, we could have lain together on the edge of a sword.” The Torah says Yaakov worked seven years for Rachel, but it seemed like just a few days, so much did he love her.” The Medrash states that he loved her with a “love as strong as death.”
In Shir HaShirim, it’s written, “Many waters cannot extinguish love.”
The greatest material wealth cannot buy this love; it must be earned.
What does this posuk mean? Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l states,
“I recall a conversation that I had many years ago with a man who had recently celebrated his fiftieth wedding anniversary. He said, ‘Young couples think that they are in love. But they don’t know what true love really is. After fifty years of marriage – then you know what it means really to be in love!’”
Why fifty? The Maharal says that marriage celebrates the total commitment of two parties to each other – he’s not referring to the democrat and republican parties. The obligations of a Jewish marriage arrangement are recorded in the כְּתוּבָּה, document. The set monetary settlement allocated to a maiden was 50 silver shekels – equivalent to 200 dinars in Mishnaic currency. This sum finds its perfect parallel in the giving of the Torah, where the contractual duties of our nation’s wedding day came into effect on the 50th day after leaving Egypt.
Where does this need to get married come from? The Medrash relates that when Hashem brought the various species before him, אָדָם said, “All of them have a mate and I do not!” Immediately, Hashem brought slumber upon אָדָם and fashioned חַוָה from him.
Why did אָדָם feel the need to have a helpmate? Hashem said, “It is not good that man be alone.” Once Hashem said that statement, it became a reality.
At one point in a man’s life, he feels the need for a soulmate. This would make sense. As the Yalkut Shimoni says,
“Any man who does not have a wife, lives without happiness, blessing, goodness, his Torah is incomplete, he is without protection from sin and without peace.”
What does he do? Rebbe Shimon says he pursues her. Rebbe Elazar explain this phenomenon: “Any man who does not have a wife is not a whole man.” A man feels incomplete without a soulmate. However, a woman is not as aggressive about finding her soulmate. Still, Reish Lakish says, “It is better to live as two together than to live alone.” Why? The Yerushalmi answers:
“Man cannot live without woman and woman cannot live without man…”
Why do a man and woman both need each other to thrive? The answer is found in Seifer Bereishis: “G-d created Adam; male and female He created them.” Rashi explains that Hashem created [man] with two faces, one side male and one side female, at the original creation. Afterwards, He divided him – אָדָם. The posuk says, “This one shall be called אִשָׁה, woman, because from אׅישׁ, man, was she taken.”
The Chofeitz Chayim cites Rashi who quotes the following Medrash:
“… The word אִשָׁה, woman, sounds similar to אׅישׁ, man. From here we see that the world was created with לשון הקודש, the Holy Tongue – Biblical Hebrew.”
Elsewhere, that Medrash states the following:
R’ Yehoshua was asked: “Why is a man assertive in asking a woman to marry him and a woman is not assertive in asking a man to marry her? R’ Yehoshua responded using an analogy: To what is this matter comparable? To one who lost a possession. He seeks out his lost possession, but the lost possession does not seek him out.
G-d removed one of אָדָם’s ribs to create חַוָה; man, always seeks its return through marriage, as he becomes whole once again by joining with his “lost possession,” whose assistance he needs to fulfill all of his needs and aspirations. Therefore a man shall… cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.
Why does he want to get married? The Bavli, a Tosefta, Medrash Rabbah and Medrash Tanchumah all give the same answer:
“Just as our faces are all different, so are their ideas (i.e. ways of thinking) never the same.” Everyone has a different reason for getting married.
Yet, once he decides that he wants to get married, the Seforno says the following:
“One should try to marry a woman who is fitting for him and who is suitable to become attached to him, for unless the man and the woman are similar to each other, their bond will not be a true bond. If they are similar, they will share the same opinions.”
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler says,
“I always say to a couple at their wedding, ‘Make sure, my dear ones, that you always desire to give happiness and pleasure to one another, as you feel at this time. And know, that the moment that you start making demands from each other – behold, your happiness has already left you.’”
Rabbi Gamliel Rabinovich says, “Marriage is an opportunity for growth, to grow together spiritually.” Gerald Brenan would say, “In a happy marriage it is the wife who provides the climate, while the husband provides the landscape.”
In conclusion, marriage is a workshop, where the husband works and the wife shops.
Dedicated in the merit that: Hashem should help all singles find their zivug.