Constantly ignite the fuel of marriage
Rabbi Ron Hendler
Directly after this the parsha describes a man who hates his wife. The Torah warns him to treat the son of the hated wife exactly the same as the son of his loved wife (in those days more than one wife was allowed). Immediately after this, the Torah describes the Ben Sorer Umoreh – the rebellious child who completely disregards his parents and seems headed for a life of crime and immorality.
What is the connection between these three situations?
Rashi explains that a man who is attracted to a woman primarily because of passion, may ultimately hate her and produce a child who himself rebels against his parents.
The Torah is teaching us that we cannot escape the consequences of our actions. Something we do today in a moment of passion may have far-reaching consequences later in our lives.
People often use the expression “falling in love”. This implies that we have no control over our lives and our choices. Fundamentally the decision to get married must be made with a cool head and a proper evaluation of the potential success of the relationship.
Although the word “love” is something we hear in every song on the radio and although most grooms declare their eternal love for their bride in every wedding speech, the fact is that there is a very high failure rate in marriage today. The love quite quickly can turn to hate. How can we avoid this breakdown in marriage?
Rabbi Volbe quotes the following verse: “It is good for a man to take on a yoke while he is still young.”.
The midrash comments that the “yoke” in this verse is referring to the yoke of marriage. Most people want love, happiness, fulfilment, pleasure – but they don’t want responsibility. The true secret to a successful marriage is to accept responsibility for the wellbeing of another person.
The required line in any wedding speech should be: “I can’t wait to take responsibility for your wellbeing for the rest of your life.”
What does that responsibility look like? There is an interesting comment made about the burning bush that Moshe saw in the desert. The Rabeinu Bachya notes that if Moshe had not noticed the burning bush Hashem would not have appointed him to save the Jewish people. Hashem was testing him to see if he went through the world without any awareness of what was going on around him.
Similarly a couple may be living in the same house, going through the emotions of marriage but not noticing each other’s needs, moods, and efforts. This is the first step in responsibility. One should not be in a relationship without constantly noticing the other half. This sounds so simple yet if often eludes our grasp. This fuel that keep the marriage alive needs to constantly be reignited.