Part Five: Creation at Work
Among the many brochos that Chazal included in the
marriage ceremony is the brochoh of yotzer
ho'odom. It refers to the formation of man. It is very
significant that Chazal chose to call attention to our Divine
creation when we marry instead of when we are born.
Marriage takes place many years, even decades, after we are
born. Chazal deemed marriage to be the most appropriate time
to express our gratitude to Hashem Yisborach for our
creation. However, how does it relate to marriage?
And why, during the course of the seven brochos that
we recite under the chuppah, is the brochoh of
yotzer ho'odom repeated?
Also, according to some commentaries the reason we say the
brochoh of yotzer ho'odom twice under the
chuppah is in order to recall the formation of Chavah.
The first brochoh corresponds to formation of Odom and
the second brochoh corresponds to the formation of
Why does each require a separate brochoh?
In order to answer, we must consider carefully the purpose of
the separate formation of Odom Horishon, and the purpose of
the separate formation of Chavah.
The Yalkut Shimoni (Parshas Bereishis 2, simon
24) describes the formation of Chavah from Odom. Chazal teach
us about how Hashem considered many possibilities before
deciding which part Chavah was to come from; the head, the
eye, the ear, the mouth, the heart, the hand and the foot.
For various reasons, Hashem ultimately decided to form Chavah
from Odom's side. This was in order that she should be
intrinsically modest. The arms usually cover the sides.
Therefore, of all the organs to choose from, Odom's side most
properly embodied the essence of Chavah's character.
Modesty is much more than a way to dress and a manner of
conduct. The trait of tznius is the core of a woman's
personality and is expressed in all facets of her life.
Tznius is perfectly suited to helping the woman
fulfill her task in life. Tznius is a perfect
complement for the man too.
Tznius is so precious that it is "befitting" even the
Shechinoh. The Midrash Tanchuma, (Parshas
Bamidbar 3) relates that with the inauguration of the
Mishkan, HaKodosh Boruch Hu praised the virtue of
tznius. With the Mishkan complete, Hashem would
now speak with Moshe Rabbenu within the privacy of the
The trait of tznius is essential to marriage —
for husbands and for wives. It is essential to their purpose
and goal in life. It is essential for life. Hashem created
women with the innate ability to be content within the home.
This gives a strong spiritual foundation to the home, which
in turn enables the man to fulfill his task.
In the sixth perek of Ovos, Rabbi Meir teaches:
"Whoever engages in the study of Torah lishmoh is
privileged to many things. Moreover, the entire world is
worthwhile for his sake alone." Rabbi Meir continues and
lists the many exceptional blessings and virtues that result
from learning Torah lishmoh — with pure
Very significantly, tznius is among them.
Moreover, tznius is an obligation for a talmid
chochom. The Yalkut Shimoni (Parshas Ki Siso,
simon 391) states, "A talmid chochom must be
tzonu'a like a kallah."
Tznius, the intrinsic essence of the wife, is also the
height of perfection for the husband! Tznius, the gift
that G-d chose to give women is, for the man, the result of
After years of marriage and years of effort in Torah —
Torah lishmoh — the chosson will attain
his kallah's intrinsic virtues. Since this process
actively begins with marriage, it is most appropriate to
recite the brochoh of yotzer ho'odom under the
The pronunciation of the word Odom in the
brochoh of yotzer ho'odom contains the prefix
"ho," which means "the." When used, this prefix
connotes a reference to something specific and unique.
Hashem Yisborach created Odom Horishon to accomplish a
clear and specific task in life. More than anyone else who
was ever created, Odom Horishon knew his purpose in life
— perfecting his ruchniyus.
The posuk (Bereishis 2:20) describes that after
searching through all of Creation Odom Horishon did not find
a single being capable of helping him fulfill his task in
this world. Hashem Yisborach thus made Chavah. Chavah,
the perfect, complementary ezer kenegdo, was the last,
most important act of Creation that Odom Horishon needed for
He also, more than anyone else who ever lived, knew how
lacking he was — in his ability to fulfill his purpose
in life — without Chavah, his wife.
Without any doubts whatsoever, Odom Horishon knew that Chavah
was his one and only partner in life; likewise for Chavah.
They had no other available choice.
Our attitudes towards our spouses should be the same as
theirs. We should not be deceived because of the many options
that a populated world seemingly offers us. We may mistakenly
believe we have many choices.
Our spouses must be as cherished, beloved, and as
irreplaceable, as Odom was to Chavah and Chavah was to Odom.
There is no other man. There is no other woman. Under the
chuppah, the chosson and kallah say
amen to it.
The chuppah is the beginning. The couple now has the
opportunity to spend their life together in discovery of what
they really are — Tzelem Elokim. Marriage is the
chance Hashem gives us to discover it and express it.
Consent to Change
The process of marriage also transforms the woman. Chazal
(Avodoh Zora 39a) say "Eishes chover harei he
kechover — the wife of a talmid chochom is
like a talmid chochom." So much is this so that
according to some opinions in halochoh, the wife of a
talmid chochom has, in some aspects of halochoh, the
same status as the talmid chochom himself. Once the
chosson becomes a talmid chochom the eishes
chayil becomes an eishes chover.
We conclude the marriage ceremony with a brochoh that
the new couple should have sosson, simchah, giloh, rinoh,
ditzoh, chedvoh, ahavoh, achvoh, sholom, and
rei'us. These expressions of joy and affection set the
tone for the beautiful, wonderful life that the new couple
wants to have together.
We repeat this brochoh many times during the week of
sheva brochos. This repetition strengthens the
commitment that the chosson and kallah have
made together. However, something has changed. The
chosson and kallah assume new roles. They
become husband and wife. If these aspirations guide their
married life, then through their combined efforts, they will
build a happy and enduring home of Torah.
This new, mutual task of building a Torah home enhances their
individual goals in life. The husband sets out to become a
talmid chochom and the wife sets out to become an
eishes chayil. Respect also comes from realizing the
role of each spouse in building a Torah home — and
appreciating the value of a Torah home to Klal
A talmid chochom, as the expression "talmid"
indicates, is always learning. A talmid chochom
understands that his knowledge of Torah is never perfect or
complete. There is always more to learn and more to
understand. Hence, we always continue learning. This constant
process should not interfere with building the home and
caring for the family.
With time, enthusiasm and diligence, our goal to become great
in Torah will be achieved. Therefore, as we build our life of
Torah we can also build our homes and our families. Our
success in Torah determines our success at home.
Likewise, our success at home determines our success in
Torah. The more we learn the better we become. The happier we
are at home the more we will be able to learn. If we seek to
please our spouses, they will be happy. They will respond in
kind and seek to please us.
When most of us use the phrase eishes chayil, the
outstanding, noble woman, we usually mean a woman who excels
in righteousness, in middos and in chesed
— also, a woman who is very self-sacrificing for the
sake of her husband's growth in Torah. The Ramban, however,
teaches us that the phrase means something else.
The Ramban, in his commentary on Chumash (Shemos
18:21), writes that an eishes chayil is a woman who
has "stamina and is energetic" in caring for the home. The
true eishes chayil is a woman who is diligent,
knowledgeable and reliable in taking care of her home and
Taking care of the home is commonly considered as
gashmiyus and not ruchniyus. However, Chazal
(Brochos 57b) teach us that a pleasant wife, a
pleasant home and pleasant clothes, furniture and utensils
broaden the mind of the husband. A home that has a warm,
pleasant atmosphere enables the husband to fulfill his task
in life and build a life of Torah. The management and upkeep
of the home has an important effect on the husband and his
frame of mind.
Therefore, Hashem Yisborach blesses women with
specific abilities that enable them to build and care for a
home much better than men.
Hashem intentionally created men as men and women as women.
Husband and wife have their own specific roles in building
the Torah home and in fostering the Torah way of life.
Husbands and wives have different natures because each of the
spouses has different, but mutual, tasks in life.
Shlomo Hamelech writes, "Listen, my son, to the mussar
of your father and do not forsake the Torah of your mother"
(Mishlei 1:8). Mussar involves discipline, and
this role naturally suits the father. The father is usually
the sterner, demanding parent, whereas the mother has the
natural capacity to be more compassionate and kind. This
motherly love shapes our children's attitude to life.
We want our children to grow into wholesome compassionate
members of Klal Yisroel. Within the setting of the
home, our children experience Torah as a way of life, a Torah
of compassion, and a Torah of chesed. The mother, much
more than the father, instills these traits and values into
her children. This is pure ruchniyus. It is a much
higher aspect of ruchniyus than the father can ever
hope to achieve.
Unfortunately, we see that the role of the wife in building
the Torah home in not clearly understood. The world we live
in endorses superficially more glamorous and important
callings of life for its female component.
The great task of enabling husbands to become talmidei
chachomim and raising children to grow up to be bnei
Torah is far from mundane. The routine aspects of this
great task should not fool us into belittling its importance.
Who would dare, chas vesholom, reduce the value of
this glorious, supreme task in life?
Wives have just as much a chance of achieving Gan Eden as
their husbands do. Our place in Olom Habo is an
outcome of our desire, effort, and perfection we put into
fulfilling our task in life. No spouse is inferior to the
other. Everyone receives his or her due reward for building
the Torah home.
By nature, everything physical must lack permanence and
stability. Anything physical must end. Therefore, when we
marry and direct our energies to building a home, we must be
careful to build on a solid, enduring foundation of Torah.
If the foundation of our marriage rests upon
gashmiyus, then our foundation is weak and shaky. If
we build with ruchniyus, we build for the future. We
build in a way that will insure that the Shechinah
will permeate our homes and our lives.
Ruchniyus is eternal. Our marriages and homes will
endure, even the most difficult tests and trials — if
Torah, ruchniyus, and kedushoh form the basis
of the relationship between husband and wife.
Ruchniyus must be the basis of our goals and lives.
In the past, divorces were very rare, almost unheard of.
However today, to our sorrow, there are many divorces. One
very fundamental reason for this is that we lack solid
identities and enduring goals. We are more concerned about
gashmiyus than ruchniyus. Many of us enter
marriage with misconceptions about life. We never had a
chance to properly learn and fully understand the importance
of kedushoh for a successful life.
Marriage enables us to face the fact that we have
kedushoh. Marriage is a constant, daily reminder of
our obligation to give the Tzelem Elokim within us due
respect, under all circumstances. Moreover, when it comes to
how we treat our spouses, we must be careful to treat them
with more respect than we want for ourselves.
Marriage is our great opportunity to learn mutual respect.
Lack of mutual respect is the greatest destructive factor to
the marital relationship. We must be extra sensitive to our
spouse's emotions and concerns. Marriage forces us to learn
to respect our spouses — and ourselves. Without
training, most of us will not give proper thought and
attention to understanding the true magnificence of the
neshomoh within us.
The basis for establishing and maintaining mutual respect
requires that we realize that we are in essence Tzelem
Elokim. We must become sensitive to it and we must value
the kedushoh that it gives us.
Our peace of mind depends on our attitude toward life. If we
value and pursue ruchniyus, if we have bitochon
and if we work together with our spouses, then our homes in
this world will be homes of Torah and menuchoh. Our
homes will be able to host the Shechinah.