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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2008 / 8 Adar I 5768

Modern matrimony

By Rabbi Avi Shafran



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The spiritual-emotional transplant that is a true marriage needs its own form of "immunosuppressant" to succeed


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ever since the Sabbath after the holiday of Sukkos (Tabernacles), when the communal synagogue reading of the Torah began anew, I haven't been able to attend a Jewish wedding without thinking about the Netziv's unsettling, if simple, observation.


The Netziv — an acronym meaning "pillar" by which Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin (1817-1893), the famed dean of the Volozhin Yeshiva, is known — noted that the first marriage in history differed in a most essential way from all the matrimonial unions that would come to follow. Because, according to a widely cited Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve were created a single entity, a man-woman coupled back to back, with the "forming" of woman described by the Torah more accurately envisioned as a separation. The word often translated "rib" is in fact used elsewhere in the Torah to mean "side," and so would be understood in the light of that tradition as referring to the woman-side who was part of Adam-Eve before Divine surgery provided her independent personhood.


So, says the Netziv, Adam's subsequent union with his wife was in fact a "re-union" — of two entities that had originally been one. That idea, says Rabbi Berlin, lies in Adam's declaration when Eve is presented to him: "This time it is a bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh" [Genesis 2:23]. Comments Rabbi Berlin: "Only 'this time' is it so, since she is a 'bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh'; [here, Adam's love for Eve] is like a person who loves his own hand."


Not so, though, every marriage to follow, where the two people creating a relationship will have been conceived, born and raised as independent individuals before becoming a marital unit.


What is troubling is that, following the Talmud's direction, among the blessings recited at a Jewish marriage ceremony and at the festive "Sheva Brachos" [Seven Blessings"] meals attended by the bride and groom for the week thereafter, are several references to the First Couple (Eden's, not Washington's). Not only is the creation of Adam and Eve explicitly invoked, but the bride and groom are reminded of how "your Creator made you joyous in the Garden of Eden." How, though, can the comparison be made? The essence of post-Edenic marriages, their emotional and spiritual components, would seem to be of a qualitatively different nature from that of the original one. As per the Netziv's observation, they are mergers, not homecomings.


Or, to carry the Netziv's own simile a bit further, they are not like reattaching a severed limb but like transplanting a newly donated one.


Interestingly, the medical metaphor itself may hold the answer to why we hold up the example of Adam and Eve to those marrying. Maybe it is not a comparison that is intended but a spur to thought — the thought that a successful marriage entails striving for a relationship like that of Adam and Eve, who began their lives as a single being.


Consider why transplantation is no simple matter: It commonly entails a risk of rejection.


The natural reaction of a normal body to the introduction of an "other" with its own distinct genetic identity is to seek to show it the door, so to speak. There is good reason for that immune response, of course; it helps protect against the introduction of elements that could be harmful.


Likewise, the natural response of a normal human psyche to the intimate introduction of an "other," with its own discrete emotional and spiritual identity, is to similarly seek to protect the threatened self.


Doctors help ensure successful transplants by administering immunosuppressant drugs, chemicals that prevent rejection. They operate by lowering the threshold of the immune system's integrity. Or, put another way, they weaken the host body's sense of self.


Could it be that we focus a modern bride and groom on the first ones in order to teach them that the spiritual-emotional transplant that is a true marriage needs its own form of "immunosuppressant" to succeed — that, in other words, no less than in an organ transplant, marriage requires a weakening of self?


Here, of course, no drug will do; what alone can work is a conscious, determined reorientation of attitude, force of will born of love. In the Netziv's words about post-Edenic brides and grooms, only "deep connection ["d'veika'] will bring them together, to become one."


Like everything truly important, of course, that is more easily said than done. But knowing one's objective is the first step of any journey.


And the second, here, is acting — whether or not one's actions reflect purity of intent — as if it is not one's self that is calling the shots. Jewish tradition stresses that simple deeds can beget essential changes. As a Jewish aphorism sourced in the 13th century work Sefer HaChinuch puts it: "A person is acted upon by his actions." What we do, with the hope and intention of becoming someone who naturally does what we are doing, brings us closer to becoming that person.


And so newlyweds do well to disagree over whether the window should be open or closed. But the chilled spouse should be the one insisting that it remain open, for the comfort of the overheated one; and the latter should be running to shut it, to keep the other warm. Even if the result is a compromise, like leaving the window open a crack, the acts of selflessness themselves are priceless. And they are not limited to windows.


I mused aloud about all that at a Sheva Brachos meal for my own daughter and her new husband several weeks ago. Later, though, something else struck me: The marriage-message borne by the Netziv's observation is not only for newlyweds.


Transplant recipients, after all, generally need to take their medication for life.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.




© 2007, Am Echad Resources