Elul 24
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Elul 24

[Man and wife] shall be one body. (Genesis 2:24)

In recent times, we have witnessed an unprecedented tidal wave of divorce. This phenomenon appears to be directly linked to modern attitudes towards marriage. Let’s look at the Torah’s concept of marriage, which has produced much marital happiness for over three thousand years.

An analogy is a good start. Table salt is a chemical compound called sodium chloride; it consists of two elements, sodium and chorine, in combination.

Pure sodium is very volatile. If dropped into water, it will explode into fire. No one would ever want to eat it. Chlorine is a corrosive gas, which can cause severe irritation and a choking sensation. When sodium and chlorine combine, however, each loses its individual properties; the fusion is a totally new compound which bears no resemblance to either component.

When the Torah states that husband and wife should become one, it means that two unique people should fuse into a new being. In forming this new being, each "element" must be ready and willing to divest itself of its own identity, so that this new "compound" may be that which is most desirable and most constructive.

Clearly, the sharing of oneself in a marriage relationship cannot be as dramatic and radical as in the example of sodium and chlorine fusing into table salt. Nevertheless, much of the incompatibility that has resulted in divorce is due to the refusal of partners to yield of themselves.

Today I shall...

try to realize that in marriage, I must be willing to relinquish some of my own individuality to permit the emergence of a family unit.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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