18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
 
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HomeFamily & Daily LifeDatingWho Needs Marriage?
 
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Who Needs Marriage?    

Who Needs Marriage?



Marriage is the institution the Torah established for us to grow from being "takers" to becoming "givers" and ultimately to becoming truly G-dly...

 



Although marriage is an age-old institution, it's fairly common in today's society for people to live together without the formality of marriage. Any problem? Many people feel that marriage is beneficial since it creates a stronger bond between partners but for others the explanation seems inadequate. Based on the strong emphasis on marriage in the Torah, let's try to clarify the significance and primacy of marriage.
 
Let's start our discussion with first man. Adam was alone in the Garden of Eden and Hashem said "It is not good for man to be alone". What was "not good" about it? Hashem didn't want Adam to be lonely? No one to talk to and share his life with? Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki 1040-1105) tells us "so people shouldn't say there are two rulers in the universe, Hashem rules alone in the upper worlds and Adam rules alone in the lower worlds!" The exact meaning of this mistake is hard to know but, at the very least, we are being told Adam needed someone who would balance and keep him in check. Eve had all the necessary qualifications.
 
Parenthetically, clearly woman's greatness is being extolled by Rashi. If Judaism proposed that a woman was a second-class citizen or "man's slave", her creation would only make things worse by encouraging man's imbalanced sense of power. Clearly she was the necessary and capable counter-balance to man's propensity to inflated self-aggrandizement.
 
Besides bringing man down from the heights, what else about his "being alone" was improved through the institution of marriage?
 
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, (a major Rabbinical thinker and author from England- 1891-1954) teaches that there are basically two types of people in this world- givers and takers. Although most of us fall somewhere between the two poles, in general, every person and action can be evaluated as one of the two. A person can "give" a present and yet be a "taker", waiting for something in return. Conversely, someone else can "take" a present and be a "giver" by allowing another the pleasure of sharing something precious.
 
In this world, who is the ultimate giver? Obviously, Hashem. He gives and gives and gives. And in Judaism the greatest goal and pleasure in life is to be like our Creator. The one who truly develops the skill and art of giving has made himself a vehicle for G-dliness.
 
The first man was by definition a taker. Having a wife gave him the wonderful opportunity to change his natural inclination and be more like Hashem. For all of us, giving requires serious commitment and work. Let's try relating this principle to marriage. In general, people develop relationships because it's good for them and hopefully, but not primarily, for the other person also. I've never met the person who said, "The woman I would love to marry is incredible. She's so incredible I'm planning on introducing her to my neighbor who really is a better guy than me." At the initial stages of a relationship and even marriage, we are primarily takers. (Of course, we are giving to the other but we are heavily focused on the heady, impassioned feelings of pleasure that flow through us.) However, through a long and formidable process of sharing and giving to the one we care for, we ultimately get closer to the goal of becoming true givers.
 
What guarantees or at least helps us become real givers? Real commitment. Marriage is the institution the Torah established for us to grow from being "takers" to becoming "givers" and ultimately to becoming truly G-dly. Without marriage we can approximate the process but when push comes to shove if one of the partners is not happy with the situation and feels like the other partner is "taking" more than their entitled share, the relationship is dropped. Without marriage the focus is still primarily on me, with marriage there is a great chance for the focus to be on you. Of course, life is not black and white but we all know that with commitment comes effort and with effort comes change.
 
Practically speaking, we all have those times when we just don't feel like extending ourselves to our mate. This situation is essential to a successful marriage. Because when we give because we want to give then it's still about me. But when we give because the other wants or needs, then it's about the other, and only then are we developing the fine art of giving.
 
One of the most challenging parts of many peoples' lives is marriage. It can be heaven on earth and it can undoubtedly be the opposite. Hashem always has our best interest and growth in mind. For successful living we need to learn the lessons He wants to impart to us: to help us change from being takers, to become real givers and then to truly enjoy the gift of a relationship, Seeing a marriage of giving and harmony and surely living with such a gift is one of the greatest sources of blessing in this world and it is within our reach.
 
May Hashem help us learn from our holy forefathers the importance of and opportunity to give and may we enjoy the resulting gift of truly caring and loving marriages.
 
 
* * *
Rabbi Dovid Charlop is on the teaching staff of the Neve Tzion Yeshiva in Telzstone, Israel. You can see more of Rabbi Charlop's articles here.





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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  Excelente
JOSÉ MENDOZA5/11/2021 3:42:01 PM
     
 
  2.
  Marriage #2
Anonymous,4/25/2021 7:22:56 PM
     
 
  3.
  Marriage
דניאל4/23/2021 7:54:31 PM
     
 

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