A Message For Success in Marriage
"כי אביאנו אל האדמה אשר נשבעתי לאבתיו זבת חלב ודבש ואכל ושבע ודשן ופנה אל אלהים אחרים ועבדום ונאצוני והפר את בריתי"
"Ki Avi-enu el Ha-adama asher neesbati la-avotav zavat chalav oodvash vey-ahchal vsava vdashane oofanah el Elohim ach-ay-rim va-avadoom vey-nee-atzoonee vey-heyfer et bay-reetee"
"For I shall bring them to the Land that I swore to their forefathers, which flows with milk and honey, but it (they) will eat, be sated, and grow fat, and turn to gods of others and serve them, it will provoke me and annul my covenant."
Every week, Jews across the globe scour the same portion of the Bible at the same time for practical lessons and advice. This weeks portion "Wylch" is chock-full of insights; however, it is our responsibility to bring them out.
In Devarim 31:20, it says the following:
Ki Avi-enu el Ha-adama asher neesbati la-avotav zavat chalav oodvash vey-ahchal vsava vdashane oofanah el Elohim ach-ay-rim va-avadoom vey-nee-atzoonee vey-heyfer et bay-reetee
It roughly translates to the following sentence in English:
For I shall bring them to the Land that I swore to their forefathers, which flows with milk and honey, but it will eat, be sated, and grow fat, and turn to gods of others and serve them, it will provoke me and annul my covenant.
The Parashas message for us is pure and simple. Like Kings and Queens, we (as human beings) have everything we truly need in life. We have houses, communities, friends, and a meaningful life. But the fact that we already have all these things is the danger (sacana). This warns of the dangers of excess. And Rav Pesah Feinhandler (and myselfif I may be so bold) believe that this warning can be directly applied to Marriage:
As you know Marriage is the ultimate metaphor for the relationship between HaShem (G-D) and man. But what does this verse tell us about marriage?
The advice is simple: todays couples MUST base (and keep basing) their relationship on something that is greater than themselves something that will last forever. That basis has to be HaShem (G-D). Because sooner or later we all reach a point where we have everything we want in life. And we may become unsatisfied (G-D forbid) with what we have. Then the true strength of our relationships will be tested.
MESSAGE: Dont take for granted the blessings you already have. Dont "grow fat and turn to other g-ds and break the covenant". The strength of your marriage must come from HaShem. That is what brought you here today and it will sustain you in the future. If you do this, the marriage will last because you will not become unsatisfied with what you have. One Midrash says that the Israelites would become spoiled with what they had. Ladies and Gentleman: you have everything you need in life RIGHT NOW to be happy!!!
"Rational thinking dictates that we should strive to master the trait of taking pleasure with what we have. Regardless of what you have, you can always have lasting pleasure that is dependent only on yourself and not on anyone else. Once you acquire this attribute, you have a guarantee for the future. You will be able to have this pleasure your entire life (Chochmah Umussar, Vol2, p.63). One way to appreciate the world is to equate it with the love of G-D. In other words...an appreciation of this world can actually lead to an appreciation of G-D (and visa-versa). The RMb"M (Yesodai Hatorah 2:2) wrote that the way to achieve love for the Almighty is to concentrate on His deed and creation and become aware of His infinite wisdom. The more you appreciate the complexity and beauty of the world, the greater your appreciation of the Almighty." 1
On the practical level . This appreciation means that a couple must listen to each other (even during the critical times).
The Vilna Gaon related this passage to giving each other Mussar (rebuke) --saying it was okay to criticize each other.2
So how is it possible to make it okay to criticize each other? I say that a sense of humor is critical in marriage and will allow you to have the humility and forgiveness that you will need for your marriage to last and withstand each others critical comments.
The last suggestion Id like to give is for both of you to learn with each other once a week. This will give you the routine and Torah that you need for a Binyan addey Ad (an everlasting home).
In closing I would like to bless everyone with every kind of happiness and hope fulfilled that their dreams can conceive.
1 Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway To Happiness, p.35
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