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Marriage - Made In Heaven

Within Judaism, marriage is considered the ideal state in which human beings may develop their full potential

Marriage - Made In Heaven

They were both in intense pain at the prospect of going through with this. Still, the childless couple approached Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and requested that he write them a bill of divorce. Although they enjoyed a happy marriage, each of them wanted children very much, and so they had finally decided to seek a divorce.

The great Sage looked upon them thoughtfully and replied, "I will be willing to fulfill your request, but may I suggest that you first prepare a feast marking this occasion? After all, you were united in marriage with a feast, so it would be a good idea for you two to terminate your bond in the same way."

The couple followed the Rabbi's unusual advice and invited family and friends to their parting banquet. In the midst of the meal, the husband stood up and declared out loud to his wife: "My dear wife, everyone understands the unfortunate circumstances which led to our upcoming divorce. I would like you to remember our relationship very favorably despite our imminent separation. Please, on leaving this home, choose whichever thing in this house is most precious to you. In fact, it will immediately be taken to your parents’ home for you. No matter how valuable it may be — it will soon be your very own, most prized possession.”

It didn’t take long at all for the woman to decide exactly what she most wanted. And so, in order to insure that her desire would really be fulfilled, throughout the evening she discreetly but repeatedly refilled her husband’s wine goblet. After the drink had taken effect and he was soundly asleep, she ordered the servants to carry him to her parents’ home.

When the man awoke and discovered what had taken place, he looked at his wife with a puzzled expression.

"I just followed your instructions," she answered. "You are the most prized possession I could possibly think of!”

They returned to Rabbi Shimon, and he prayed for them. Soon, they were blessed with children (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1).

A wife’s greatest treasure is her husband, even when his value is not so apparent to her. And, as this story illustrates, even when a marriage appears to be in its final stage of dissolution, it can be rebuilt by the efforts and intuition of a loving wife.

"And G-d created man in His image. In the image of G-d He created him, male and female He created them. And He blessed them (Bereishis 1:27—28).”

This is a very deep and complex passage. But one concept we are able to understand from it is that man and woman together combine to form the image intended for human beings. Only after both man and woman were created did G-d bless them as one unit. It was not until then that the name Adam was given for mankind in general.

Our Sages, of blessed memory, explain that Adam was chosen as the human being’s name because this creation was made from the adamah, earth. Animals, however, were also created from the earth, and they were given another name: beheimah, that is, ba mah, meaning "It is what it is."

Given their shared origin, why was one name chosen for mankind and another for animals? The Maharal of Prague explains that the resolution to this question lies in the common potential shared by the two entities — human beings and earth. The earth possesses the power to make things grow. Similarly, human beings are the only creations made with the ability to grow by developing their own potentials. Every other creation is limited by the nature with which it was created, by its given nature. Only human beings have the ability to rise above their inborn tendencies and give them new direction.

Although blessed with this possibility, human beings must nevertheless labor in order to realize their growth potential. As mentioned above, the name Adam was given after the creation of both man and woman. This implies that the union of man and woman in marriage is a primary catalyst for the development of each partner's individual potential to the utmost.

The essence of the growth process spurred by marriage involves stepping beyond one’s individual identity. Before marriage, the bride and the groom are each concerned with their own aspirations and ambitions. Marriage alters this self-concern significantly and enables them to become more attentive to each other’s needs. The two can begin growing beyond themselves to become fused into a single cohesive unit. As it states, “And he shall cling to his wife...and they shall become one flesh” (Bereishis 2:24).

Dina was staring at herself in the mirror. She looked miserable, and she knew it was all his fault. He never cared about how she looked. He never noticed her at all. Nothing, except the washed dishes that he found still greasy! Why even bother trying? When was the last time he had given her a compliment? She couldn't even remember back that far. Probably not since before they were married. But then he had treated her so completely differently.

"This marriage was a terrible mistake," Dina thought to herself for the sixth time that afternoon. “I would have been so much happier married to someone else, someone who would have suited me better. I can't believe this is happening. Now what in the world am I going to do?"

The empty secular world around us today is a “throwaway" society. This mentality affects every aspect of our lives, not just the ecological equilibrium. As easily as we dispose of plastic and paper, cars and appliances that weren't meant to last forever, so do we easily throw aside relationships at the first sign of trouble. Faced with evidence of incompatibility, both halves of an unwise couple may be quick to wonder whether they chose the "wrong item" and if they should exchange it for another, more suitable one.

Demographers project that half of all first marriages made today will end in divorce, and six out of ten second marriages will probably collapse. But when most couples marry, they feel that their marriage will not succumb to this trend of our times. Theirs, they hope, will last. Hoping is not enough, though. Like a profession, marriage requires preparation and constant "refreshers" to stay on top of it. Nothing could be a more helpful gift to a newlywed couple than a wealth of practical information about the positive attitudes and realistic expectations that make marriages work well.

Helping a marriage not merely to survive, but also to thrive, is a goal extensively supported by our rich Torah wisdom. Within Judaism, marriage is considered the ideal state in which human beings may develop their full potential. The holiest day for the Jewish people is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The holiest man is the High Priest. In order to perform the service of Yom Kippur and atone for the Jewish nation, he has to be married.

Marriages, we know, are made in heaven. This may be a very difficult concept for some to genuinely believe.

A Roman matron once asked Rabbi Yossi ben Chalafta, "How many days did it take for G-d to create His world?”

He answered her, "Six days."

"And what does G-d do every day since then?”

Rabbi Yossi answered, "He is making matches — bringing couples together so that they can get married.”

The Roman matron scoffed, "Why, that's not difficult to do at all! I have many male and many female servants. I could easily match them all up in one night!"

Rabbi Yossi said to her, "Maybe you think it is as easy as that, but we have learned that G-d considers it as difficult as the parting of the Sea of Reeds.”

After that, the matron simply couldn't resist trying her own hand at matchmaking. She paired off all her one thousand male and one thousand female servants that very evening.

Well, the morning after was not such a splendid one. Her couples surrounded her, complaining, insulted, and even injured. Some had broken legs, some had broken arms, and some had swollen, black eyes. They clearly did not want the spouses the matron had picked out for them.

Totally exasperated, the matron sent for Rabbi Yossi and asked him, “How on earth does G-d do this?”

Rabbi Yossi replied very simply, "G-d uses His infinite wisdom to make matches, deciding who will be best for whom. And He brings them together from different parts of the world in order to match them up perfectly. This He has done since He first created the universe."

The Roman matron then admitted, "There is no G-d like your G-d, and your Torah is the truth, beautiful and praiseworthy” (Bereishis Rabbah 68:4).

In the Talmud (Sotah 2a), it is written, "Forty days before conception it is decreed in Heaven: ’The daughter of so-and-so is for so-and-so!’ "It has all been extremely well thought out and very carefully planned in advance.