||THE CENTRALITY OF TRUST IN MARRIAGE, PART ONE
- Thursday, December 28, '00 - Parshas Miketz 5761
Imagine if we had alive today a
genius, a holy and righteous tzadik whom knew all wisdom, a Torah giant whom the whole
world accepted as pious and authoritative. And, imagine that you personally had access to
You want to know, "What, in one word, is the essence of the man-woman
relationship? What is the foundation for 'doing marriage right?'"
You'll be glad to know that Jewry has access to something quite akin to this. We shall
look to THE MAHARAL OF PRAGUE.
Rabbi Yehuda Lowe, best known as the "Maharal," and best known for the
"golem" (the clay-man which the Maharal animated with mystical power) which he
built to protect the Jews of Prague from brutal blood libel persecutions in the 1500's,
stands as one of the greatest geniuses in Torah history. Just about everything he taught
and wrote evokes universal marvel and awe. Think about it. Whom do you know, besides G-d
Himself, who can bring clay to life? In one of his books, Nesivos Olam, he essentially
answers the question, "What, in a word, is the essence of the man-woman
His starting point is studying the significance of:
1. the adjacency of two incomprehensibly cryptic back-to-back statements in the Talmud
[Taanis 8a] and
2. their relationship to a midrash (which is alluded to in the second of the two
cryptic Talmudic statements).
After citing these, he strings them together and develops the material brilliantly, and
establishes the "punchline" as being the one bottom-line essence of marriage. He
"really goes to town."
Let's have a peek. Get ready to have your eyebrows raised. What follows is my free
translation/digest of the essay by the Maharal.
The attribute of "faith" is spoken of in tractate Taanis.
"Rabbi Ami said, 'Rains do not fall except because of the people who have faith in
G-d, as is written, "Truth will sprout from the earth and righteousness will look
down from Heaven (Psalms 85:12)."' Rabbi Ami also said, 'Come and see how great are
the people of faith. From where will we see? From the weasel and the well. Whereas one can
have faith in the weasel and the well, how much moreso must one have faith in G-d!'"
What this means is that those of faith [i.e. who are trustworthy, so that you may have
faith in them] do not change. Heaven is the source of moisture. Rain is in the power of
Heaven and Heaven never changes because it is for the provision of moisture and rain that
G-d created the Heavens. Therefore, we learn that one may have faith in Heaven for that
which It was created [to provide]; and that there is an unchanging, unending relationship
between a Provider who is faithful to provide and those who are to have faith in that
provision, since the Provider is never-changing. If ever one party changes, violating the
relationship of one having faith and the other being a dependable and faithful provider,
this destroys the relationship, causing commensurate change in the second party.
The verse in Psalms, brought as a proof-text, demonstrates that this matrix stands on
the principle of "faith," because Heaven provides moisture and the earth
receives it - creating the model for 1. the provider and 2. the receiver. The earth can
have faith (there will be "sprouting") and Heaven will be righteous (to reliably
send down the necessary sustenance). Through this, a non-changing relationship of mutual
roles and of faith is established which joins together, into a relationship, those on
earth with Heaven. The verse says, "Truth will sprout from the earth," to
indicate that the earth can have faith that Heaven provides the moisture that the earth
needs to receive.
In order for the faith relationship between Heaven and earth to operate, there must be
the same never-changing faith relationship between each person here on earth and the next
person here on earth. Then, this will be reflected in Heaven participating in its
faith-relationship as Provider to earth. There is no greater model of faith than this
relationship between Heaven and earth and this is the SAME as the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN
AND WOMAN, in the nature of which the man is a provider, and the woman is receiver, like
the Heavens provide and the earth receives. If the relationship is violated, this is
elimination of the faith which is its foundation.
When both a husband and a wife are faithful, there is no greater relationship. When
each is faithful, without end and without change, to all the obligations of the
relationship, each may have faith in the other at all times.
This is the meaning when the Talmud states that WE LEARN FAITH FROM THE WEASEL AND THE
WELL and that there is no greater case from which to learn about faith.
[We could graphically chart the parallel elements of the Maharal's exposition:
...so as to clearly show the development and correspondence of the elements]. To be