Reality: First Marriage, Then Simchah
Marriage is a process, not an event. People who are caring,
giving and understanding will live, grow and build together.
Spouses who work together to build a Torah home, will enable
the Tzelem Elokim within them to flourish.
Simchah and shalom will fill their lives.
The achievement of such grand and lofty goals as these takes
time and effort. It is a mistake to believe it all happens
right after the wedding. Shalom bayis requires
patience, determination and also training. Therefore, it is
important to enter marriage with an honest determination to
seek ways of achieving and maintaining shalom
Training must take place long before marriage. Patient
understanding of the spouse is essential for every Torah
home. Marriage requires that we care for our spouse even more
than we care for ourselves. Shalom bayis requires us
to abandon our selfish attitudes and concerns.
Shalom is a vague term. We generally think of peace as
being the lack of conflict between people. Shalom
bayis is obviously much more than the lack of conflict
between husband and wife.
If we realize this and train for this, we will accept the
fact that the true joy we will have in our marriages depends
on our patient understanding of our spouse. This takes time
and effort. Therefore, when we get married we should realize
that the wedding day is not the ultimate joy of marriage. How
do we know this?
The posuk in Shir HaShirim (3:11) refers to
HaKodosh Boruch Hu's "wedding day." The same
posuk also speaks about the day HaKodosh Boruch Hu
had a "gladness of heart." The gemora (Taanis 26b)
elaborates and explains that Hashem's "wedding" took place on
the day when He gave His Torah to Klal Yisroel. This
gemora teaches us a very basic lesson about the
correct attitude towards marriage.
We should not expect perfection, joy and harmony from our
marriage all at once — particularly right after the
wedding. Even though Klal Yisroel accepted the Torah,
Hashem did not rejoice immediately. Hashem "waited" to see
how Klal Yisroel would prove their loyalty by
observing the Torah and fulfilling its commandments.
When Klal Yisroel received the Torah, Hashem, the
chosson, became wed to Klal Yisroel, the
kallah. The true celebration of this bond occurred
much later on, after the completion of the Beis Hamikdosh. If
we remember that marriage is a process of change and
adjustment, then Chazal's lesson will be relevant and our
marriage will be successful and lasting.
This is a new idea. If asked, most people would certainly say
that the wedding day is the happiest day of a person's life.
It is the day when so many dreams come true.
Of course, the wedding is a very happy occasion. In fact, it
is such a glorious, wondrous event that Chazal need to teach
us that it is just the beginning. Real happiness, lasting
simchah, takes years to achieve.
As the young couple matures, they will realize who they both
are — not as chosson and kallah, but as
husband and wife. This realization will bring a new and
different simchah to their lives — a happiness
that is due to their relationship and not due to an event. A
happiness that is not the result of dreams coming true,
but happiness because of the effort they put into creating
and maintaining their life together.
This happiness is because of the truth: a clear and
unshakable mutual understanding of their relationship. A
realization of what they truly are: a glorious, living
expression of Tzelem Elokim. This takes time and
effort. It is the culmination of marriage, that which they
set out to achieve on their wedding day.
The posuk states, "And I [the Shechinah] will
dwell within Bnei Yisroel . . ." (Shemos
29:45). From context, the posuk is referring to the
mishkan. However, if we examine the posuk we
will notice that the posuk says that the
Shechinah will dwell within Bnei Yisroel.
The posuk does not say that Hashem will dwell
exclusively within the mishkan. Clearly, Hashem's
Presence was not limited to the mishkan. From the
focal point of the mishkan, the Shechinah
radiated outward and influenced Klal Yisroel. The purpose of
the Beis Hamikdosh, as with its forerunner the Mishkan, was
that the Shechinah, the Presence of Hashem
Yisborach, should be present within the midst of Klal
There were special times when Klal Yisroel would reciprocate
and visit the Shechinah. On Pesach, Shavuos, and
Sukkos, Klal Yisroel would come, willingly and
happily, to Yerushalayim. At those times, we would stand
before Hashem in the Beis Hamikdosh. This was a demonstration
of Klal Yisroel's desire to fulfill the Torah, a
demonstration of our loyalty to Hashem.
Klal Yisroel, because of the influence of the
Shechinah in the Beis Hamikdosh, was inspired to serve
Hashem even more. It was evidence that the "wedding day," the
day of kabolas haTorah, was a true and worthwhile
The full, absolute joy of giving the Torah to Klal Yisroel
had to wait until Klal Yisroel journeyed to meet
the Shechinah. In the Wilderness; the mishkan
was close by. We lived with the Shechinah. After we
came into Eretz Yisroel, it was different. We had to make an
extra effort to visit the Shechinah.
Likewise, time will test the new couple's preparedness to
change themselves from being chosson and kallah
into being husband and wife. Marriage is the commitment of
two people who set out to realize what they really are
— a mutual expression of Tzelem Elokim!
Therefore, when we get married, we must be patient. Only the
future will reveal the truth about how hard the
chosson and kallah are willing to work to build
their marriage, build their home and build their life
together. The result of this effort is simchah.
The Rambam (Hilchos Me'ilah 8:8) writes about the
obligation for everyone, each person according to his
ability, to reach a full understanding of mitzvos of the
Torah HaKedoshoh. The Rambam also cautions us not to
treat lightly or ignore any of the mitzvos — even if we
encounter something that is not easily understood. As an
example, the Rambam cites the prohibition of me'iloh;
the improper usage of hekdeish.
The Rambam points out that the Torah is very stringent about
misusing any building materials that were set aside for use
in the Beis Hamikdosh. Once designated, the most
mundane objects, such as wood, stone and cement, become
hekdeish and hence have kedushoh. Their usage
for any mundane purpose is prohibited and punishable. If
someone misuses anything of hekdeish, a korbon
must be brought to atone for this transgression.
With this preface, the Rambam explains why we have to be very
careful and respectful of the mitzvos. If a stone can have
kedushoh, making us accountable if we misuse it or
degrade it, then mitzvos, which are the will of Hashem
Yisborach, certainly have kedushoh.
Therefore, the Rambam warns us that we dare not treat
Hashem's mitzvos lightly or ignore them because we lack a
satisfying comprehension of them. We must not, chas
vesholom, disparage any mitzva of the Torah.
Serious halachic consequences result from the
sanctification of a stone. Can we imagine how much more
serious our behavior must be when we sanctify our lives and
devote ourselves to our spouses within the kedushoh of
a Torah marriage!
Today, we live in a very materialistic world. The concept of
kedushoh has very little or no meaning. A stone is a
stone. Klal Yisroel, however, is an Am Kodesh,
a holy nation. We are a nation governed by the Torah. As
such, we must understand the importance of mitzvos. We need
to value the kedushoh that they impart to our
Mitzvos have infinite potential. If we would give proper
thought to what life is, and what we are supposed to do with
it, we would value mitzvos much more than we do. If we had
clear spiritual goals — and a strong, unshakable desire
to achieve them — our lives would be very different.
Our lives - - and our marriages — would be truly
If we accept the fact that we have spiritual goals to
accomplish in life, then we can start to fulfill them. This
realization will automatically bring us to a state of
menuchas hanefesh. The wedding day is a time to make
new commitments and marriage is our best opportunity to put
these commitments into practice.
However, if we approach marriage with a materialistic
attitude, then we will face countless challenges. If we seek
gashmiyus, we cannot expect to be satisfied. The world
offers us more pleasures than we can ever hope to enjoy. The
more we have the more we will want. We will have a difficult
time achieving and maintaining menuchas hanefesh.
Chazal (Ovos 4:1) teach us that the person who is
satisfied with what he or she has is truly rich. Moreover,
the Torah commands us to desist and not be envious; "Do not
covet your neighbor's house. Do not be envious of your
neighbor's wife, his slave, his maidservant, his ox, his
donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor"
The Ibn Ezra, in his commentary on Chumash, writes
that many people wonder about this commandment. They ask:
How, in the depths of our hearts, can we stop ourselves from
being desirous of something beautiful and attractive to our
eyes? If something pleasing automatically interests us, then
once we see it, how can we control ourselves from wanting it?
The desire for pleasure is instinctive. How can we stop
The Ibn Ezra uses an analogy in order to explain that we can:
"When a peasant villager sees the king's beautiful daughter,
if he has common sense, in his heart he will not desire to be
with her, since he knows that it is impossible."
The king would never marry off his daughter to a peasant.
Therefore, the clear, straight-thinking peasant, knowing the
pointlessness of such yearning, entertains no such desires.
Something that is beyond our ability to reach, beyond our
ability to enjoy, we do not covet.
The peasant realizes the absurdity of fantasizing about the
princess. He has no passion for her, "even though," as the
Ibn Ezra writes, "she is beautiful . . . because he has been
trained from the time of his childhood to know she is
forbidden to him."
Likewise, we can control our inborn, automatic desire to seek
pleasure — as long as we realize the forbidden status
of the object of our desires. However, if we think that
somehow, someway we can obtain the object of our desires, we
will do anything and everything in our power to fulfill our
The beauty of the Ibn Ezra's moshol is, that just as
the peasant knew his limitations, likewise, every intelligent
person must realize that everything, whether a spouse or the
most common personal possession, comes to a person according
to the Will of Hashem Yisborach.
Everything we own is ours because Hashem has assigned it to
us. This is the foundation of our emunoh. Therefore,
it is foolish to covet anything else that belongs to someone
else. If we really took this belief to heart, we would not be
envious of anybody or anything in the world.
Emunoh can govern our thoughts, our deeds, even our
most basic physical needs. By giving priority to
ruchniyus, we can accomplish a lot. In contrast,
because the world lacks Torah, the world lacks these
spiritual concepts, values and goals. Without emunoh,
people act according to their feelings. The result is
However, if we seek kedushoh that comes from the
mitzvos we do, then seichel, the pure understanding of
what is right and wrong, will triumph over the vulgar,
instinctive motivations of jealousy, lust and pride.
If Torah governs our homes, then just like the Beis
Hamikdosh, our homes have kedushoh. Guided by
seichel, we will fulfill the purpose of our lives. We
will achieve — ashrecho vetov loch — you
are fortunate and it is good for you; you are fortunate in
this world, and it is good for you in the next. We will have