THE DISCOVERY OF MARRIAGE
November 11, 2014
Rabbi H. Greenberg in #948, Chayei Sara, Moshiach & Geula, Parsha Thought

MARRIAGE AND PRAYER

The first marriage recorded in the Torah, that between the Patriarch Yitzchak and the Matriarch Rivka, takes place in this weeks parsha. The Torah devotes a multitude of verses to describe the way Eliezer, Abrahams trusted servant, discovered, tested and then brought Rivka back home to wed Yitzchak.

The final stage in the saga of their marriage is described by the Torah as follows:

And Yitzchak went out to converse in the field towards evening and he lifted his eyes and saw camels coming. Rivka lifted her eyes and saw YitzchakAnd she said to the servant, ‘who is this man…’ And the servant told Yitzchak all of the things he did. Yitzchak then brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rivka and she became his wife, and he loved her…”

Baal HaTurim makes an astute observation. The marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka is juxtaposed with Yitzchak going out into the field toconverse,” which our Sages stated was when Yitzchak instituted the Mincha-Afternoon prayer. Baal HaTurim derives from this juxtaposition that: “Yitzchak instituted the Mincha prayer just as Rivka appeared.” This is consistent with the verse in Psalms (32:6): “For this let every pious man pray to You at the time that You are found.” This [the Talmud states] alludes to a wife, as it is written: “He who has found a wife has found good.” (Proverbs 18:22)

Baal HaTurims thesis is that there is a special relationship between prayer and finding ones mate.

This raises two questions:

First, why is marriage any more connected to prayer than all the other needs we have and must depend on G-d for their provision? Dont we pray for health, sustenance and Redemption among other vital needs we have?

Second, why does the Torah make the connection between prayer and marriage specifically in the context of the Mincha prayer?

FINDING YOUR OTHER HALF

To answer these questions it is first necessary to understand why locating a marriage partner is characterized as afindordiscovery.”

One answer is that marriage, according to the Zohar, is the reunion of two half souls which were separated at birth. Marriage thus is discovery of another person, a total stranger up till now, who is actually your other half.

Moreover, the Talmud (Kiddushin 2b), describes the process of looking for ones mate as looking for a part of ones self that waslost.” To create Eve, G-d had to separate a part of Adam from himself. When G-d performed the first marriage, of Adam to Eve, it was a process of reuniting the two physical halves of their bodies that had been separated. The separation and reunification of Adam and Eve is the paradigm for all future marriages. Indeed, in the blessings recited at weddings today we refer to the joy that G-d brought to Adam and Eve when they were married in the Garden of Eden and we ask G-d to bring that same joy to the bride and the groom. Thus, the physical act of bringing Adam and Eve together parallels the spiritual reuniting of two halves of one soul that takes place in every marriage.

When we marry, ideally it is to our newly rediscovered long lost other half.

GLITCH

There can however be a glitch in the process of marriage. Since we are physical beings who have little or no understanding of our souls nature and needs, we can end up choosing a mate who is not our other half. Physical attraction, financial status and other superficial considerations can fool two people into thinking that they are compatible. Usually, these marriages do not survive. In truth, they are between two very different people with different spiritual potentials and who are not fundamentally compatible. The incompatibility factor is even more pronounced when the relationship is one proscribed by the Torah. The couples who enter into this relationship are not just incompatible; their union is utterly destructive for both of their souls. Frequently, their soulsspiritual frustration and devastation manifest in the physical realm too and ensure that the marriage will end in acrimony and tragedy for all involved, including their children.

MARRIAGE: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

In light of the above understanding of marriage we see how it is radically different from all other benefits. On the one hand, one can make a powerful argument for the pre-eminent state marriage has over all the other benefits we enjoy in life. Marriage provides people with a litany of benefits including companionship, security and financial stability, an outlet for love and intimacy and many more. Many people would prefer a healthy, loving and enduring marriage over great wealth and even good health. Proof of this assertion is the countless number of people who have stayed married despite suffering deprivation and hardship, even though they could have left the marriage for greener pastures. The love and soul connections that bind them together are inseparable.

On the other hand, a wretched marriage can be one of the most destructive forces in society. Many instances of domestic abuse are reported today. Marriage is no guarantee against abuse; bad marriages actually foster it. It is a pathetic truth that people in a relationship are far more likely to be victims of their spouse than being victimized by a total stranger.

The primary source for this contradiction lies in the status of their souls. If our souls are compatible and marriage is the discovery of our other half, then the marriages likelihood of survival and flourishing is enhanced. To be sure, there are no assurances that even these marriages will be ideal. In very important respects, marriage works better as a verb than as a noun. We must work to make our inner spiritual bond express itself on all levels of our personalities. But, when two are actually one at their core and their marriage reflects the discovery of this union, it is far more likely that the marriage will be a good one favored with G-ds infinite blessings.

We can now appreciate that marriage is fundamentally different from all other physical and spiritual benefits. Health, wealth and freedom are inherently positive things. Even so, one can distort these gifts and use them for evil. But, in and of themselves, they are blessings for which we all pray and wish.

Marriage, by contrast, is not an inherently positive experience. What appears to be a marriage might actually be a recipe for disaster because from the outset and at the most fundamental level it was not really a marriage. Their two souls were not two halves of the same whole; they were fundamentally incompatible people.

We can now understand the link between prayer and marriage that goes beyond the need for prayer for all other benefits. While the prayer for health is just that, the prayer for marriage is that it should be a real marriage; it should be the discovery of our other half rather than a superficially connected marriage.

The question remains, though, why specifically the Mincha prayer? What advantage does it enjoy over all other prayers in conjunction with marriage?

THE LINK BETWEEN THE MINCHA PRAYER AND MARRIAGE

Yitzchak instituted Mincha. His primary physical involvement was digging wells. This exercise is understood in Chassidic literature as a parallel to his spiritual quest to remove the external layers of our personalities to discover the inner, pure waters of our soul. Yitzchaks prayer thus was logically an extension of his lifes passion of discovery, which is the same as what a true marriage is all about.

Yitzchak goes out into the fielda metaphor for the most external aspects of lifeto converse with G-d as a way to discover the divine within nature. Perhaps this is why Yitzchak had a special love for Esau, the man of the field. Yitzchak was a man who looked for hidden G-dliness. Similarly, a marriage is the pursuit of the hidden soul relationship between husband and wife.

The Mincha prayer differs fundamentally from the Shacharis and Arvis (Maariv) prayers because it occurs in the middle of the work day. The morning and evening prayers are recited either before or after our engagement with thefield”, the outside world. Mincha is the prayer that is most consistent with the discovery of the hidden core of G-dliness in the world. And it is the prayer most identified with discovery and marriage.

DISCOVERING MOSHIACH

The revelation of Moshiach is likewise referred to as a discovery. The Psalmist (89:21) states: “I have found David my servant…” Moshiach the scion of David must be discovered. This statement implies that he is always with us; we must just recognize his presence.

The Talmud refers to the entire process of Redemption as a surprising discovery like that experienced by one who has discovered an abandoned treasure. The implication here is that no matter how much we pray for and anticipate the final Redemption, we cannot possibly fathom how glorious it will really be. In a way, this is similar to a true marriage. No matter how much love there is in the beginning of the relationship, one discovers previously unknown treasures in a spouse.

The connection of Moshiach and Redemption with marriage is even more pronounced. In exile we have lost much of our spiritual finesse. Exile conditions have strained our marriage with G-d. However, despite all of the division and strife that exile has caused between us and G-d, we know that it is only on the surface. Fundamentally, our connection is as solid as ever. All we have to do is discover the reality of our relationship with G-d.

Moreover, the Rebbe declared that the Redemption is already in front of us. The table is set with the feast of Redemption. All we have to do is discover it by opening our eyes to this reality.

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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