A Jerusalem Rov, in a presentation on readiness for marriage, said (based
on the Vilna Gaon) that the Talmudic concept, "Sof maaseh bimachshava techila
(in the end is the deed and in the beginning is the intention)," applies to
marriage. In the beginning, G-d wanted to create man and woman as two,
created them as one, separated them and brought them together again to be
one. We see from this that the intention is that although G-d made man and
woman as two, that they should in the end be one.
The Arba Turim (fourteenth century) is the forerunner law code to the
Shulchan Oruch (sixteenth century), the normative code of Jewish law. The
Shulchan Oruch basically records bottom-line law alone, and has become the
universal basic source for practical law. The Arba Turim included
explanation, in addition to literal codification of law, and is a valuable
study when one wants more background and meaning to go with law study. In his
introduction to Evven Ha'Ezzer (section on marriage), the Arba Turim says
that after G-d created Heaven and earth, G-d created man to rule over the
earth. G-d created the animals as male and female. G-d created man alone, and
took one of his ribs, built woman, and brought her to him for her to be to
him a help and an asset.
The Talmud teaches that an unmarried person is without good, happiness,
blessing, home, Torah, protection and peace. The Torah says, "A man will
leave his father and his mother and he will cleave to his wife and they will
become one flesh." Elaborating on this Talmudic statement and Torah verse,
the Arba Turim says they will be exclusive to and committed to eachother.
"Cleave" means marriage. Therefore, it is fitting for a man to love a wife as
much as he loves himself, he is to honor and respect her MORE than he does
himself, is to treat her with compassion and he is to protect and guard her
as he does the rest of his limbs. He must provide her needs, support and
satisfy her. She is obligated to serve him, to love him like herself, because
she was taken from him. It must be good, pleasant and beneficial for both of
The Raavid says that G-d did this for man's good and benefit. It was a
great favor. The Raavid beautifully explains the matching of man and woman,
based on the Torah's story of Creation.
Animals were created male and female, and animal females don't accept
males permanently. After the male has served his natural purpose, they throw
eachother out and go their separate ways, without one being committed to or
designated for the other. At the start, each one was made separate so it is
natural for each animal to be apart from the other.
Not so with the human. G-d made man alone and took one of his ribs and
built woman from it and brought her to him to help, support, fulfill and
complete him, because she is considered like one of his very limbs. She is to
yearn for him as one of his limbs wants his entire being to be well and whole
and together. And he is to take care of her like one of his very limbs.
Man found no mate among the animals after checking and searching
creation. G-d said, "It is not good for man to be alone." But man is not to
be alone with the woman like the animals who are not singled out one for the
other. For the human, there must be one male for a given female. So, G-d took
the woman from him, and thus created "aizer kinnegdo [a help corresponding to
him]:" aizer [help] - that she should be only for him, and kinnegdo
[corresponding to him] - that she will remain with for all times. [end of the
explanation by the Raavid.]
The Talmud compares finding one's soulmate with finding lost property.
There is a sense of pressure and yearning to seek one's soulmate because
finding one's mate is finding the other half of oneself. Finding a mate is
not finding something "out there" in the world, which would be added to what
the single is. Because a mate is half of what a complete human being is, the
single needs to find, capture and obtain his or her total self, which is
missing without one's soulmate.
The first section in the Code of Jewish Law section on marriage [Evven
Ha'Ezzer] is on having children. The first goal of getting married is to have
G-d said to Avraham that he would be blessed by multiplying and becoming
numerous. When Lavan sent Rivka to marry Yitzchok, the blessing that the
Torah records him giving Rivka was that she should multiply and become
numerous. G-d blessed Yakov that he will have descendants who will be
numerous, widespread and a blessing. Getting married presumes having a
family, and having a family presumes getting along, and getting along
presumes finding a partner in the first place - who one can get along
permanently with, and have the BLESSING of a family with.
Among the root issues in the singles and divorce epidemics are issues of
midos, unselfishness, maturity, commitment to ongoing inner growth and
self-completion, the ability to work with someone else to repair and complete
eachother's shortcomings and to bring out eachother's potential. With this
foundation, a couple can work as a unit to build a relationship together in a
loving, supportive, cooperative and lifelong way.
Readiness for marriage entails going beyond oneself. To be continued.