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"Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt, saying. 'This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year. Speak to the entire assembly of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month they shall take for themselves, each man, a lamb or kid for each father's house, a lamb or kid for the household'" (Shemos 12:1-2).

Even before the tenth plague went into effect, Hashem commanded the Jews the laws of the sacrifice of the Pascal Lamb. Par'oh's demise was imminent and preparations for the great Exodus had already begun. The Jews were beginning their newly found freedom as an independent nation. But they were not to be a nation like others. They were destined to be the People of G-d and, as such, they had special obligations which would help them achieve their mission.

There is a lot of symbolism in the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb. One of its many laws is that the meat of the sacrifice must be eaten as a family group. On this occasion, the children would ask their father questions about the Jewish tradition and he would take the opportunity to relay to them the heritage which he received from his own parents.

One of the things the Torah is emphasizing here is the importance of the family unit. The Sages go to great pains to describe the importance of marriage: "One who is not wed lacks joy; lacks blessings; lacks goodness; lacks Torah; lacks protection" (Yevamos 62b). To serve Hashem properly one needs a lifelong partner. Only together can they get the job done right.

These words have special meaning to me today as I prepare for the Shabbos sheva berachos of our daughter Devorah with her soul mate Hirshel Hakohen. They are beginning life together and probably don't realize yet how important that major step really is. Hopefully, they will understand more and more as they continue to grow together.

One of the prayers for the new bride and groom is expressed in one the seven blessings we recite for them: "Gladden the hearts of the beloved friends…" The specific expression "beloved friends" is meant to teach us what marriage is all about. I once heard about someone who had children with his wife and brought them up together, marrying them off one by one. The morning after the last one got married, he gave his wife a divorce! To him, marriage was merely a partnership meant at rearing children. Many partners who do not like each other run successful businesses together. They have something important in common, and they put their differences aside for their mutual benefit. Such people concur with the proposal to completely do away with religious marriage contracts, which require other religious documents, which are often difficult or impossible to obtain, to abolish them. They suggest, instead, that marriages should be arranged by means of a regular business contract, with inherent clauses regarding "dissolving the partnership."

Judaism teaches us the true path to happiness. Husband and wife are to be "beloved friends" who love each other and help each other deal with the many challenges of life. The Sages went even further than this when they declared that "One's wife is considered as an actual, integral part of his body" (Berachos 24a).This is not only a halachic, legal concept. It is a way of life and the road to true happiness.

The story is told that Reb Aryeh Levine's wife's leg was in pain. They went together to visit the doctor in the local medical clinic in Jerusalem. Someone else who was in the waiting room with them asked the Rabbi why he had come. Reb Aryeh replied, with great compassion and concern. "My wife's leg hurts us!"

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel