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The Monthly Marriage

by Rabbi Manis Friedman

  

Library » Intimacy » Family Purity | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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There are two kinds of human love: the intrinsic, calm love that we feel for people to whom we're related by birth; and the more intimate, fiery love that exists in marriage. This is why the husband-wife relationship is very different from the parent-child relationship.

The love within a family, between relatives who are born of the same flesh, is innate. The love between a mother and child, a brother and sister, two brothers, two sisters, comes easily. Since they're related by nature, they feel comfortable with each other.

There's an innate closeness between them, so their love is strong, solid, steady, predictable, and calm. There's no distance that has to be bridged; no difference that has to be overcome.

The love between a husband and wife isn't like that. Their love wasn't always there; they didn't always know each other; they weren't always related. No matter how well they get to know one another, they aren't alike. They are different from each other physically, emotionally, and mentally.

They love each other in spite of the differences and because of them, but there isn't enough of a commonality between them to create a casual, calm love. The differences remain even after they are married, and the love between them will have to overcome these differences.

After all, husband and wife were once strangers. Male is different from female, so in essence they must remain strangers. Because of this, the love between them can never be casual, consistent, or calm.

This acquired love is naturally more intense than the love between brother and sister. When love has to overcome a difference, a distance, an obstacle, it needs energy to leap across and bridge the gap. This is the energy of fiery love.

Because the gap between husband and wife will never really close, their love for one another will continually have to reach across it. There will be distance, separation, then a bridging of distance, and a coming back together, again and again. This sense of distance intensifies the desire to merge.

To come together, man and woman have to overcome certain resistances. A man has to overcome his resistance to commitment, and a woman has to overcome her resistance to invasion. So, in coming together, husband and wife are reaching across great emotional distances, which intensifies their love. The absence of innate love actually makes the heart grow fonder.

If a brother and sister were to have a fiery love, their relationship would suffer. It's not the appropriate emotion for a brother and sister to have. Their love thrives when it's unbroken, unchallenged, constant, and calm. Not that they can't have disagreements, but those disagreements disrupt their love.

On the other hand, if a husband and wife develop a calm love for each other, their relationship will not thrive. If they are too familiar with each other, too comfortable with each other, like brother and sister, their love will not flourish. True intimacy in marriage--fiery love--is created by constant withdrawal and reunion.

If a husband and wife are never separate, their love begins to sour, because they are not creating an environment appropriate to that love. The environment of constant togetherness is not conducive to man-woman love: it's the environment for brother-sister love or parent-child love.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Married Life
Life Cycle » Marriage » Family Purity » The Benefits

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Mikvah
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
Leviticus
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.
Family Purity
Laws relating to intimacy between husband and wife. The primary point of Family Purity is the woman's purifying immersion in a ritual bath which allows the couple to resume intimate relations after the woman's menstrual period.