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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review 15 Menachem-Av

Tu B'Av: Repentance and the foundations of love

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For most people, parents and children alike, the thought of arranged marriages inspires the same kind of enthusiasm we feel as we look forward to tax preparation or gum surgery. We readily empathize with Tzeitel's parody of Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof:


Hodel, oh Hodel,
Have I made a match for you!
He's handsome, he's young!
All right, he's 62.
But he's a good man, a fine match. True? True!


How did this system get started, anyway?

The answer may be found by investigating one of the most overlooked holidays in the Jewish calendar: the 15th day of the month of Av, known as Tu B'Av.

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?
The archetype for shidduchim, or arranged marriages, goes back to the earliest records of the Jewish people when the world's first Jew, Abraham, sent his servant Eliezer to arrange a match for his son, Isaac. This became common practice, as children trusted the judgment of parents or advisors to help them choose wisely in making this all-important decision.

The Hebrew word for "love," ahavah, is related etymologically to the word lahavah, flame. Both words stem from the root hav — give: just as one flame ignites another without sacrificing any of itself, so too does love grow stronger through the giving that takes place in marriage. This is why the Torah tells us that Isaac "married Rebecca, she became his wife, and he loved her." (Genesis 24:67) Only in the context of marriage does true love have the opportunity to flourish.

Moreover, just as a flame is wide at its base and tapers to a point, similarly can two very different individuals develop a profound emotional bond if they are committed to the same ideals. Compatibility based on a common level of moral and spiritual commitment, common outlooks and attitudes and, above all, good character, can best be appraised by objective third parties, either parents, rabbis, or shaddchanim. After that initial assessment, then personal attraction can be allowed to influence the final decision.

THE CONFIDENCE OF A PURE HEART
Nevertheless, the Talmud records how, two days each year, Jewish youths arranged their own marriages without help from shaddchanim, or matchmakers:


There were no greater days of celebration in Israel than the fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur. The girls of Jerusalem put on white clothing ... borrowed from one another so not to embarrass anyone who lacked means...

And what would they say? Young man! Look and see what you choose for yourself. Do not look at beauty, look at family: Grace is false and beauty is vanity; the woman who fears G-d, she deserves praise. (Proverbs 31:31)


The sages explain that Yom Kippur became the national day of repentance when, on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, G-d forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf. Tu B'Av acquired a similar status when, on that date in the Hebrew year 2449, the Jews in the desert recognized that G-d had forgiven them for the sin of the spies.

What is the connection between repentance and shidduchim? At first glance, the holiest day of the year seems wholly inappropriate as a time for young men and women to fraternize in pursuit of a match. And why did these young people go out to arrange their own marriages? What of the lessons learned from Abraham and Eliezer, from Isaac and Rebecca?

The Talmud explains that on all other festive days, the Jewish court would dispatch officers to prevent young men and women from social contact that might lead to impropriety. But on Yom Kippur and Tu B'Av, the judges found no cause for concern. On both these days, the atmosphere of repentance and spiritual commitment permeated Jewish society so intensely that impure motives never entered the minds of young men and women seeking marriage. True, attractive women might flaunt their beauty and women from prominent families promote their lineage, but the rest would say, Make your choice for the sake of heaven.

Here again, character and trust defined the process of choosing a spouse. No one who truly believes the sages' teaching that "40 days before conception a heavenly voice proclaims who will marry whom" can doubt that, if his choice is genuinely for the sake of heaven, the Almighty will unite him with his intended. In those generations, young people maintained such absolute focus on the sanctity of Yom Kippur and Tu B'Av that they required no shaddchun other than G-d Himself.

MADE IN HEAVEN
Recently in the Israeli city of B'nei Brak, a young groom was diagnosed with a debilitating disease shortly after becoming engaged. Facing the prospect of long, painful treatment with no guarantee of recovery, he begged his bride to call off the marriage rather than commit herself to so much pain and uncertainty. The bride defiantly refused, asserting that she had already committed herself to the union and that his suffering was now hers.

Impressed by their children's selflessness but unsure which course was correct, the parents asked the revered Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky how to proceed. After only a few moments consideration, the rabbi declared, "Let them be married. This shidduch is truly from heaven!"

Asked for an explanation, Rabbi Kanievsky quoted the following Talmudic parable: Two men appeared before a judge, each insisting that a discovered bag of gold belonged to the other. "Do you have any children?" asked the judge. "I have a son," said one man. "I have a daughter," said the other. "Let your children marry and give them the gold as a dowry," ruled the judge.

The rabbi explained that the shidduch suggested by the judge more than just a convenient way to divide the money. Rather, the children of two fathers so passionate in the selfless pursuit of justice would make perfect partners in marriage. Coming from families similarly devoted to moral values, the judge trusted that the shidduchcould not fail.

Similarly, said Rabbi Kanievsky, the shidduch of these two young people was truly made in heaven.

Through our observance of the 15th of Av we remind ourselves of the need for repentance, the power of commitment, and the meaning of true love.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

Sin of the Golden Calf: Understanding the how and why and resulting Divine punishment
The day the sun stood still
Nemirov massacres and the Chmielnicki uprising
Independent Judea under Shimon HaMaccabee
The Great Revolt begins
Dedication of new walls of Jerusalem

© 2006, Rabbi Yonason Goldson