June 17, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 17, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Love, Marriage and Friendship the Torah Way

Introduction

The Yomim Noraim are soon upon us, and Sukkot will follow in their wake. This is typically a season of anticipation, reflection and optimism, reminding us that the best is yet to come. Yet, given the state of uncertainty generated by the long and enduring pandemic, the aura of disappointment, anxiety and depression seems to be permeating our hearts and souls. Unfortunately, this also impacts our usual pre-Yom Tov simcha mode. This is especially significant for the many who are longingly awaiting reunions with children, grandchildren or other relatives/friends in Eretz Yisrael. Moreover, the pain, suffering and loss generated by the catastrophes this year certainly led to the dashed dreams of so many who wonder if life will ever return to a sense of normalcy. Yet, there is another lens through which we can view the situation at hand. We can turn things around by choosing to jump off the path of negativism. In its stead, we can dig a bit deeper and attempt to evoke feelings of positivism, such as confidence in the faith Hashem has in us. Knowing that Hashem endowed us with the ability to transcend the challenges He sends our way, we can reflect on how we can do our part by working at being part of the solution rather than the problem.

This is not, chas v’shalom, meant to minimize the pain, suffering and loss so many are experiencing. Nor is to be taken as an indictment or suggestion that we are being punished for transgressions. Rather, it is simply a matter of introspection and using our gift of bechirah, free choice, to figure out a productive rather than destructive response to the situation at hand. In making this choice we can direct our attention to the goodness of Hakadosh Baruch Hu we refer to three times a day in Shema. As a result, we are not only leaning on our emunah in Hakadosh Baruch Hu, but also on the faith Hashem has in us! In combination, we are taking advantage of a balm that works greater wonders than any pharmaceutical drug can offer. This is because the presence of God in our thoughts leaves little or no room for the negative emotions to seep in and take up valuable space, rent free, in our psyche. A second strategy in our arsenal of productive responses is to lean on the wisdom of our rabbis, teachers and Torah greats. For the past few weeks I turned to so many of the rabbis and teachers I rely on for chizuk, and it is a shiur by Rabbi YY Jacobson that I found especially compelling. I have to admit, however, that it wasn’t only because he typically offers realistic strategies that are useful in so many arenas. It was because I was enticed by a “chasidishe rebbe” sharing his views on the topic of love and romance in marriage. Given these motivating tidbits, I was quite surprised when I learned that the core of his shiur was dedicated to the segment of gitten, divorce, in the parsha. Yet, after immersing myself in the depth of his commentary, I learned that the manner in which the get, the divorce document, is constructed and delivered is the perfect vehicle for tuning us in on how to avoid this last resort when a marriage fails.

As an Imago Relationship Therapist, my mind is always engaged in figuring out the best ways to guide those who are caught in the trap of relationship issues. This is because while connectivity with our spouses, children, friends and communities offer us so much joy, they also can cause a great deal of angst in our lives when things go awry. We are lucky that there are so many well-trained therapists available to help us in these situations. At the same time, in all my years of seeking out the wisdom embedded in our weekly parshiyot, I never fail to glean important insights that should not be ignored. This is because the wisdom of the Torah offers excellent strategies that beautifully complement and even enhance the professional advice available. We are so lucky to have access to this dynamic combination. As a result, we are gifted with tools that help us avoid the angst that results when we choose to ignore the wisdom of our Torah and modern psychology.

When I first committed to dedicating time to the charge of spiritual growth, I never realized the power the Torah truths possess in dealing with the recurring issues that interfere with the value of shalom bayit. This value assumes such a prominent place in our Jewish ideology. As we learned earlier in our yearly exploration of the weekly parshiyot, the value of shalom bayit is high on the list of priorities in the eyes of God. In the segment of the Torah on the isha sotah, God allowed His name to be erased for the sake of sustaining peace in the household. This bears testimony to the truth that the Torah does not shy away from the difficult issues, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart. This also validates the Torah’s emphasis on the value of being tamim, wholehearted, with Hashem and with our fellow man. In fact, the emphasis on this aspect of life is proof positive that the Torah places a great deal of credibility on the import of the heart and the soul in our relationships. As a result, it is not enough to serve God meticulously following every minute detail of the mitzvot. We are also expected to love and respond to God and one another with every ounce of our hearts and souls. We know this because the import of heartfelt emotions is already evidenced at the very beginning. No one can deny that the themes of love, marriage, shalom bayit and every aspect of interpersonal relationships occurs from the beginning of the bri’ah, creation.

Moreover, I believe that the importance of how we use our words is evidenced in the reality that both the first and concluding parshiyot in the Torah are conjoined by their emphasis on the gift of speech. In Bereishit we learn that it is our speech that distinguishes us from all other creations. Most importantly, we are cautioned in using this precious gift in a positive rather than negative manner, to build rather than destroy. If we fail to do so we compromise on the quality and sustainability of the precious gift of interpersonal relationships Hashem sends our way. I also believe that it is shalom bayit in the holy sanctuaries of our homes, our mikdash me’at, that will be the vehicle through which we will reunite with Hashem in the Beit Hamikdash. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and holy beginning to the year!

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles