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What is the Jewish view on Marriage?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht & Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro

  

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A. What is marriage? First, what is marriage not? Marriage is like nothing you’ll see on the tube or silver screen. Marriage is like nothing you learned in school or from your friends.

Marriage is not attraction.

Marriage is not romance.

Marriage is not lust.

Marriage is not a certain three-letter word.

Marriage is not flaming passion.

Marriage is not beautiful people with dazzling white teeth living perfect little lives.

These are all parts of marriage—critical, too—but just little pieces of the puzzle, fuels for the flame, oars for the boat.

B. At the beginning of time there was just one human being. From that whole came two halves: man and woman. Adam and Eve were two sides of one coin. They connected to each other and made each other whole—physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. They set the marriage standard for humanity.

Because marriage at its simplest is the fusion of two halves into one whole; as the Torah says: "And man said, 'This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man).' And therefore man shall leave his father's house and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh".1

Marriage is two threads originating from the same yarn, sewn together to create a single garment.
C. So, what is marriage? Marriage is a sacred instrument for unwavering commitment through which two people reconnect. This gives birth to lasting love. Real love. Not the lusting for something foreign to you, but the deepest love for the larger you. Marriage is connection, fusing the isolated fragments into a harmonious whole. Marriage is two threads originating from the same yarn, sewn together to create a single garment. Marriage is a reunion, not a relationship. Marriage is selfless, not selfish. Marriage is love, not lust.

Marriage is G-d's first mandate to mankind.

Marriage is a steady pilot light, not an endless explosion of fiery desire. Attraction, romance, lust, beauty and physical gifts all draw upon the pilot light. While they contribute to marital success, your committed, forever-deepening connection to your spouse is the canvas on which they are painted.

And perhaps the most critical part of marriage is your total mental and emotional state. From I you must become we. His/her faults are your shortcomings, his/her wounds your pain, his/her achievements your success, and his/her smiles your joy. Because your spouse is not the person you love; s/he is your better half. Literally.

On the bedrock of "they shall become one", true love blossoms exponentially. But without this foundation, even the most romantic of loves can't hold two distinct people together forever. 

Footnotes

  • 1. Genesis 2:23-24

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Married Life

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.
Adam
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.
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.