July 20, 2024
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Not Your Typical Relationship Guide

Reviewing: “The Simchah of Marriage: A Life of Connection” by Rochel Miller and Rebecca Allen. Mosaica Press. 2023. English. Hardcover. 431 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1957579627.

The Simchah of Marriage: A Life of Connection” by Rochel Miller and Rebecca Allen (Mosaica Press, 2023), is not your typical relationship guide. It approaches marriage from the lens of connection and growth and is based on the renowned sefer “Ohel Rochel.” Rochel Miller (not related to the Rochel in the sefer’s title) has been teaching “Ohel Rochel,” published in Hebrew only, for nearly 25 years to an English-speaking audience. The sefer describes how the mitzvos of challah, neiros and taharas hamishpacha are keys to a woman’s spiritual growth. The introduction to “Ohel Rochel” is the source material for “The Simchah of Marriage.”

Allen, a Bergenfield resident until making aliyah in 2015, has partnered with Miller, transcribing hours of shiurim, to give accessibility and an organizational structure to the material. What resulted from their collaboration is a sefer that is both inspirational and elevating.

“The Simchah of Marriage” anchors itself with the centrality of emunah and connection. One paragraph in particular highlights this unique orientation.

The ability to transform each moment, to open ourselves up to spirituality, is the process of gaining emunah. Emunah is the way we connect that which is visible to that which is invisible. There is much more to what goes on in this world than what we can experience with our five senses. Each of us has a designer life, by which we mean that each of our lives was designed specifically for each one of us by Hashem. Each moment, with all its particulars, is just a different set of clothing that dresses up Hashem’s involvement. The seen and the unseen, the finite and the infinite, human and divine, are always connected. Hashem is the unseen part of every event. Having emunah means knowing that He is the main part. (p.40).

The sefer’s basic premise is that everything and everyone in our lives are meant to promote our personal growth. It is from this foundation that “The Simchah of Marriage” then explains how a woman can choose to connect to her husband, even in light of personality clashes, difficult circumstances, and the challenges of everyday life. A particular strength of “The Simchah of Marriage” is its warm, inviting and non-judgemental tone. The scenarios and examples described are very real and extremely relatable. These authors truly understand and validate the reader’s experiences and emotional reactions. The second strength is that the authors provide concrete, user-friendly ways to navigate through these difficulties. There are 49 practice exercises woven through the sefer, many of them with memorable phrases for quick access when the need arises. One of my favorites is “Just say O.Y.!A person can turn to Hashem in a moment of need and gain courage by just saying, “Only You Hashem can help me in this situation.”

“The Simchah of Marriage” is an uplifting sefer that helps readers key into their best selves, not only in the context of a marriage and family, but also in their relationships with Hashem and with themselves.

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