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Built for Love

by Rabbi Shimon Posner

  

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“What type of man do I want to marry?” the young woman repeated the question that had been asked of her.

“Well, I want someone kind. And smart. But not the too-kind type that lets himself be walked on. And not the too-smart type that lets it get to his head. Someone who isn’t too into his books: someone sociable. A leader, the life of a party -- but not someone who aggravates with this presence. I’d like him to be handsome, but not haughty. I’d like. . .”

She looked at the Rebbe, seated behind his desk. His smile was broad and his eyes twinkled.

“It sounds like you want to marry more than one person.”

I’ve told this story -- to myself and to whoever wants to listen -- dozens of times. I don’t know who the lady was.

But this next story I know happened to Chana Sharfstein: I read her article in a women’s journal and later asked her about it.

Love – the barometer of a successful marriage – is dependant 20% on the person you marry and 80% on the way you marry them every day
Chana (then Zuber) was a young woman in Boston in the early fifties. Her father had brought the family there from Stockholm. Not long afterwards he was gruesomely murdered while walking home from Shul on a Friday night. Back then, such things shocked New England.

Chana will tell you that after she lost her father the Rebbe adopted her. Six months after her father’s murder, she too, stood before the Rebbe’s desk.

Why haven’t you married yet? the Rebbe wanted to know.

I haven’t met the right one. What will the right one look like? A charismatic Prince Charming stepped out of Chana’s imagination and into their conversation. The Rebbe laughed fully.

“You’ve read too many novels,” the Rebbe said, still laughing but growing more serious. “Novels are not real life: they’re fictions. They’re full of romance and infatuation. Infatuation is not real. Infatuation is not love.”

“Love is life,” the Rebbe continued. “It grows through small acts of two people living together. With time they cannot imagine life without each other.”

Infatuation you fall into. Love you build. And love – the barometer of a successful marriage – is dependant 20% on the person you marry and 80% on the way you marry them every day.

“And they shall build a home in Israel” the Rebbe said in his blessing he sent Chaya and me for our wedding day. A home and a house is not the same thing. They say nothing stresses a marriage like building a house.

May we all be blessed to build a home – the newlyweds and the jubilee-plus anniversarians. Built with small acts. Bit by bit. With time.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Married Life

Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Shul
(Yiddish) Synagogue.