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A Deeper Approach to Marital Harmony

"Behold, you are betrothed to me” means that you are designated and reserved for me from among all other women on the planet

A Deeper Approach to Marital Harmony
Behold, you are  betrothed (mekudeshet) to me with this ring according to Moshe and Yisrael.” What does the word “mekudeshet” signify, and why, specifically here, is the name of Moshe Rabbeinu invoked? Isn’t it enough to say, “The law of Yisrael”?

The word “kadosh” means to be completely separated, or consecrated, just as the seventh day of the week is separated, by its spiritual nature, and is referred to as Shabbat Kodesh. We also find the term used in the Torah (Exodus 19:6), to describe the people of Israel as separate and unique among the nations of the world: “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation.” And so too, here: “Behold, you are betrothed to me” means that [you are] designated and reserved for me from among all other women, meaning you are not allowed to marry any other man.

We mention Moshe Rabbeinu and Israel in the language of the Kiddushin, as a subtle reminder to the husband of the significance of what is occurring at that moment; that after this woman has separated herself from all other women for your sake, you are now obligated to behave towards her according to Torah law — referencing Moshe Rabbeinu’s behavior towards the people of Israel. Moshe didn’t see his unique role as a position of authority over others, rather he viewed his role as a calling to serve others.

Among many other instances, every time God became angry at the people, Moshe Rabbeinu would step in between and do everything in his power to appease God and rescue the people from His wrath. This is why the Torah says of him (Exodus 32:32): “And now, if You forgive their sin. But if not, erase me now from Your book, which You have written.”

In the same way, the husband from the very moment of Kiddushin, is bound to the woman for better or for worse, who has agreed to separate herself from all others to be his wife. He is obligated, from that moment on, to emulate Moshe Rabbeinu, and every time she is experiencing difficulty or challenge, and he must do everything in his power to help her and protect her from any insult or injury, or anything that bothers or annoys her.

Also, Moshe and the people of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years. During those years there were many disagreements and complaints, arguments and strife, and some very hard times, but through it all, he wouldn’t abandon them, even though it was often very difficult.

This is what the bride and groom should be thinking about during the holy moments of Kiddushin. Even if there will be disagreements between them, as is inevitable with every couple in the world, they should never, ever separate. Rather, if they devote themselves to improving their relationship, their marriage will succeed.

B. It is a Jewish custom to sanctify the marriage with the giving of a round ring under a square chuppah. There are also those who complete the Kiddushin with a ring that is round on the inside and square on the outside.

This alludes to the many people standing under the chuppah with them — parents, witnesses, officiating R’ and other men and women. The husband can do chesed for them when they require it, but with this type of chesed, done for those outside of the couple, there are limits and boundaries as in the borders of a square. But when it comes to a husband giving and doing chesed with his wife, there are no boundaries.

Therefore, he puts a round ring on her finger that has no beginning and no end. The husband must constantly ask himself, throughout the entire life of the marriage, if he is carrying out the commitment he took upon himself on the night of his chuppah. It must be firm in his mind that this woman, who chose him to be her husband, thereby joined her fate with his, as it says (Genesis 3:16): “And to your husband will be your desire.” He must ask himself if he is doing everything in his power so that she shouldn’t regret her choice.

C. “O make these beloved companions greatly rejoice even as You rejoiced before Your creation in the Garden of Eden as of old.”

We ask God that He should rejoice before this couple, like He rejoiced in the first man in the Garden of Eden, when He married him to Chava. Adam, the first man ever created, was the happiest bridegroom in human history, so much so that we wish, in this blessing, for every bridegroom to be as happy as he was.

Why was Adam the happiest? Because there was no other woman in the world, literally, that he could compare to Chava. He was as happy as could be that the best woman in the world was given to him.

Every married man needs to review this over and over, that he has been given the best possible wife for him, according to his needs, even if there are difficulties and challenges in their marriage. These tests were given to him to build and repair himself according to the root of his soul, and to accomplish this, he must be married specifically to this woman. With this correct approach, he will not desire any other woman, and he will be happy with his portion.

Adapted from 'Happily Married - The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' For Men, by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Click Here to Buy Now