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Why is it important for a Jew to marry a Jew?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro


Library » Jewish Identity » Non-Jews » Intermarriage | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The Practical Perspective:

Love and Marriage...

Marriage is also about love, but not exclusively about love.

There are many people we love: parents, siblings, children, friends, teachers, and even celebrities. As a matter of fact, there are many things that we love, such as our car, iPod, and an alfalfa sprout avocado sandwich from our favorite cafe.

Yet we don't marry any of those people (or things).

The love expressed in all of the above consists of a feeling of enjoyment, desire, sympathy, and/or attraction; but it lacks the magical ingredient needed for marriage. (For example, you love your uncle Joe, but you would never think of sharing a room, not to mention a life, with him).

...Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

The unique factor most important to marriage is commonality. From all the people we love this is the person we think we are most compatible with and with whom it will be most feasible to build a common and shared future.

Thus when we think about a perspective spouse we need to focus on compatibility. It is not enough to love, yearn for, care about, and/or be attracted to someone. You need to be wholesomely compatible. For a marriage to work successfully and to its maximum capacity the couple needs to share a common dream for the future. As the great Hallmark card once said "true love is not when you  look each other in the eyes, but when you both look ahead and see the same vision".

This type of union is most rewarding, but also most difficult. The difficulties, however, are reduced when the couple is inherently in common due to a shared history, background, family, education, network, society, belief and value system. The more common they are, the greater the potential for the success of this marriage.

We often get engulfed in the passion of the present. In the heat of a romantic moment we like to tell ourselves "nothing else matters". But marriage is a long term commitment and consequently quantitatively and qualitatively different than a passionate moment. A moment can be isolated, but the future is most often a somewhat enhanced, subjectively perfected, continuation of the past.

Bottom line: practically speaking the best chance for a shared future is a common past.

The Jewish Perspective:

It Happens

At different points of different peoples’ lives being Jewish means different things. You might like bagels, enjoy kvetching, and frequently use words like Meshugenah. You might not like any of the above. As a matter of fact, you may dislike all of the above and be happy to leave it all behind.

Judaism, however, is of course much more than that (and none of that is really Judaism). If you are human and Jewish it stands to reason that at some point in your life you will want to explore or experience some aspect of your rich heritage.

It might happen with the birth of a child, the death of a grandparent, the approach of a holiday, or when hearing Adam Sandler sing his Chanukah song.


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Life Cycle » Marriage » Intermarriage

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.
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
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.