||SEVEN ELEMENTS OF A COMPLETE RELATIONSHIP -
- Thursday, November 9, '00 - Parshas Lech Lecha 5761
The Biblical book, Song Of Songs, is
a love poem by a groom who loves his bride. It was written by King Solomon, the wisest man
who ever lived. Its ultimate holiness rests in its being a love song between the Jew and
G-d, couched in terminology of the love of newlyweds.
In it, the lover refers to his beloved by seven terms. By studying these terms, we will
see, in the aggregate, how the Torah describes a complete love relationship. Each term
refers to a component of a complete marriage relationship. The seven terms are:
1. kalosi - my bride
2. achosi - my sister
3. rayosi - my friend
4. yonosi - my dove
5. tomosi - my perfection
6. yafosi - my beauty
7. dodi - my beloved.
"My bride" clearly connotes the romantic, physical and male-female
"role" aspects that are basic to marriage.
"My sister" connotes a close, deep familial bond that is free from the
confusion that may arise out of the emotions of the romantic level. The bond is that of
your flesh and blood. It provides the unconditional, non-physical and constant element of
love-relationship that a romantic-only relationship lacks, which the family relationship
By the way, I have heard it asked, "Isn't there a parent-child element in a
marriage?" Yes, in the specific sense of a healthy spouse treating another healthy
spouse caringly and protectively. A parent cares for and protects. I have found no source
in the Torah that indicates any parent-child component in terms of seeking emotional
needs. This tells me, based on both my psychological and Torah knowledge, that if someone
seeks or enters into a marriage to obtain a parent-child relationship, it is probably an
unhealthy and immature seeking of something that a parent didn't fulfill. There is no
source that substantiates that parent-child psychological needs are at all a genuine or
legitimate component of a marriage relationship. To borrow from the language of chapter
one, a spouse is to be a parent in terms of what one is to give, and not in terms of what
one is to take.
A brother-sister relationship, as PEERS from the same generation, is very important,
healthy and legitimate. Rambam actually requires it in his codifying of the laws of
"My friend" (my "rayo") is interesting because there are other
words in Hebrew (chaver, ohaiv) that can mean what the English speaker calls
"friend." Let's look at why this word, in particular, is used.
The root word "rayo" contains the letters raish, ayin and yod. Because of a
nuance in Hebrew grammar, you could write the yod in either the second or third position
(in the conjugation used in "rayosi") and be correct (you would pronounce it the
same way, too). For the sake of clarity, let's say we have two approaches:
1. raish - ayin - yod,
2. raish - yod - ayin.
Either way, you have the word containing raish and ayin, which is the word,
"ra," the Hebrew word for "evil," to which you add yod, the initial of
the name of G-d which indicates His attributes of mercy, compassion, intimate and detailed
providence, timelessness and patient forbearance. If you say the yod comes after the raish
and ayin, then the message is that the yod attaches to ra (any evil that may ever befall
the friendship) and counteracts the evil with G-dly attributes. Rayosi is a friendship
capable of overcoming any evil that befalls it.
I believe the message to be even stronger when we say that the yod is placed between
the raish and the ayin. They never let the raish and ayin of "ra" to come
together, so there NEVER IS evil in the relationship between them. These don't
"merely" overcome evil. They NEVER HAVE EVIL. This would mean to say that, by
practicing G-dly attributes, these friends attain to such a high level of relationship
that they keep evil from ever happening. In other words, rayo is such a high quality
friendship, that G-dly traits always reign, and evil is unheard of in their relationship.
Let's proceed on the basis of the second, stronger approach.
The word rayo (friend) is composed of ra (evil) PLUS the yod from G-d's name. It is
significant that it is the name whose meanings include:
1. eternity, constancy, timelessness
2. the exalted characteristics of G-d (mercy, compassion, generosity, patience, kindness,
forgiving, forbearance, refraining from anger or punishment when He can find redeeming
3. individual, close, intimate and detailed providence.
The yod signifies the G-dly name with the attributes cited immediately above. In other
words, friends who put these G-dly qualities into their relationship never let ra (evil)
happen. They are such good friends that ra can never happen because they put the G-dly
qualities of the yod between the raish and the ayin, which can never come together to make
"ra." These friends maintain standards of behavior and devotion by
1. eternally, unvaryingly and timelessly maintaining
2. G-dly traits (compassion, forebearing, kindness, mercy, patience, etc.)
3. and dealing with the other as an individual, with in-detail and intimately close
attentiveness to the feelings, needs, dignity, preferences, perceptions, priorities,
goals, personality and situation of the other. By keeping these items (as signified by the
yod from G-d's name) as practical, ongoing and non-negotiable axioms of the relationship,
the friends keep the yod between the raish and the ayin, so that evil may never come to
their relationship. Evil is unknown to "rayosi-catagory-friends."
The numerical equivalent of the letters in the word ahava (love) is 13. The numerical
equivalent in the name of G-d (which means the timelessness, compassionate attributes and
in-detail intimate relating, referred to just above) is 26. When husband and wife love
eachother the G-dly way, that is 13 + 13 = 26; they are being married the way G-d IS and
the way G-d WANTS. Significantly, when a couple is married, the ceremony text refers to
them as "rayim ahuvim, (loving friends, i.e [conjugations of] the words
"rayo" together "ahava)." This friendship of marriage is characterized
by G-dliness and love for eachother.
(To be continued next week)