Perashat Haye Sarah 5778
Perashat Haye Sarah 5778Friday, November 10, 2017
There are two incentives that bring about a decision to get married. There are those who get married because they wish to give, and there are those who get married because they wish to take. Whatever the reason, it will almost undoubtedly determine if the marriage will succeed.
That is not to say that those who get married to give are perfect. Even a person who follows the giver prototype has his/her own desires and emotional needs, and will also benefit from the relationship. However, there is a profound difference between the giver prototype and those who get married to fulfill their desired or emotional needs.
In our perasha we get a glimpse into what love really is according to Judaism: "And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah, his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her" [Bereshit 24:67]. The passuk doesn't say that Yisshak loved Ribka first and then married her. Rather it says, "she became his wife", and then "he loved her". According to the Torah, true love cannot be cultivated if a person is only taking from the relationship. Love can only be achieved after a person becomes a giver.
There is an interesting story about the Rebbe of Kotzk who came across a young man who was clearly enjoying a dish of fish that he was eating. The Rebbe of Kotzk asked, Young man, why are you eating that fish? The young man responded with great enthusiasm, Because I love fish! The Rebbe of Kotzk questioned the young man; If you love fish, why did you take it out of the water, kill it and boil it? The Rebbe went on to explain, You do not love fish. You love yourself. Because the fish tastes good to you, you took the fish out of the water, killed it and cooked it.
So much of what we call love today, is really "fish love". Movies generally portray love as a romantic scene in which a man and women find each other and suddenly fall in love. In reality, we are watching two people look for characteristics in their partner that will satisfy their physical and emotional needs. Is that really love? Each individual is looking out for his/her own self interests. It is not love if the other person becomes a vehicle for one's own gratification. Love is not about what I'm going to get but what I'm going to give.
Rabbi Eliyahu Desler points out that the word for love in Hebrew, ahava, comes from the root, yahav, which means to give. People are mistaken when they think that you give to those whom you love. In reality, you end up loving those you give to. Self-love is a certainty; everybody has an inherent love for themselves. To invest oneself in another means that there is a part of me in you that I love.
A person is likely to regret the marriage when he realizes he doesn't receive as much as he demands. In contrast, someone who gets married because he sees value in the act of giving, even when there are days his needs aren't met (and there will be), would never question the marriage.
Unlike Western culture today, where the wedding ceremony is the culmination of love, to Yisshak it was the seed and the root of his love for Ribka. The more opportunities he had to give to Ribka the more his love for her grew.
May 29 2020
Sivan 6 5780