||WORKING ON MARRIAGE - BEFORE AND AFTER MARRIAGE
- Thursday, July 5, '01 - Parshas Balak 5761
"It was the day of his wedding, the day of the happiness of his heart
[Song Of Songs 3:11]." Rashi writes, "'The day of the happiness of his
heart.' This is the eighth day of setting up the Mishkan [when sacrificial
service was inaugurated in the sanctuary]." We see that the inauguration of
the service of the Mishkan is an analogy to marriage.
Hashem commanded building the sanctuary to enable Jews to achieve
holiness, atonement and perfection [the sanctuary was later expanded by King
Solomon into the Holy Temple]. When the service was inaugurated, the first
day of sacrificial service in the forerunner of the Holy Temple, it was a day
of celebration. Yet, the Torah says, "It was on the day when Moshe completed
setting up the sanctuary" [Numbers 7:1], starting with "Vayihee [it was],"
which always introduces something with an element of pain and misfortune
[tractate Megilah 10b]. How does the Torah refer to one of the milestones in
Torah history, inaugurating temple service, as a day of trouble? Further,
Rashi (on Numbers 7:1, quoting a midrash) says that on this day, Israel was
like a bride entering the chupa [wedding canopy]. The day of inaugurating of
the sanctuary's sacrifices was an analogy: the marriage of G-d [the groom]
and Israel [the bride] to the marriage of man and wife. This verse is linked
to getting married.
The Midrash Tanchuma brings the following story. There was a king who had
a very argumentative, troublesome wife. He said to his queen, "Sit down and
start sewing a royal cloak." He thinks to himself, "I know that as long as
she is busy sewing, she will be occupied because this is a very large
assignment, so she will not be able to make trouble." She sews and she sews.
One fine day, she comes to the king and says, "I finished sewing the royal
cloak. Here it is. I finished the job."
The king said, "Oy vay [oh woe]!"
The queen was surprised at his response. "You told me to sew a royal
cloak. I sat right down and made the royal cloak just as you said to. What's
this 'oy vay'?"
The king said, "All the time that you were working on the cloak, I knew
you were busy, you were occupied, I knew you weren't going to incite any
fights, provoke or anger me or make any trouble for me. Now that you're free
from the work and finished, OY VAY, you can start in causing me trouble
again." The midrash learns this story from the first word in the story of
inauguration of the sanctuary, "Vayihee [and it was]," which is grammatically
close to "vay [woe]." While the Jews were busy making the sanctuary, a long
and intricate job, they were too busy to anger the King, G-d, with sins.
Before the work on the sanctuary, they had time to sin with the golden calf,
time for distractions from spirituality. Now that the sanctuary was done, the
Jews could find time for trouble and sin, and to provoke the King.
In drash and kabala, these inaugurative sacrifices of the tribal leaders
represent getting happily married. The midrash corresponds to the marriage
aspect also. You may think that when you're going out or engaged that you
have to keep busy. You work carefully on impressing, on not antagonizing and
on winning the person. Once you get married, he says, "No more "Mr. Nice Guy.
I hereby forget about her feelings and needs; I got to get on with the real
important business of life." She says, "Now I got him hooked, he isn't going
anywhere anymore, I can look like I want and do what I want and spend his
money like I want." No, the midrash says. If you think the work comes before
marriage, and then you are free to do what you want after marriage, OY VAY!
That marriage will be a disaster. THE WEDDING IS REALLY WHEN THE WORK JUST
STARTS! Once the work on building the sanctuary, mishkan [from the word
kodesh, holy] was completed, there was time for trouble. If used for avoda,
the sanctuary is holiness. If a couple gets married ill-equipped, unready or
unwilling, to do all the work of building and maintaining their marriage,
there is so much room for trouble and damage. Each must be prepared to enter
into a serious (and then marriage) relationship fully ready to please, give
unselfishly, accept responsibility, get along peacefully, resolve differences
maturely, to be devoted to the good of the other on a steady basis. If
equipped for avoda [divine service], then the marriage, kidushin [also from
the word kodesh], is holiness. If they are prepared to work to make their
marriage holy, subordinated to the service of G-d, ready to sacrifice for the
sake of their marriage, the couple's marriage will be one of continuous
peace, success and happiness.