Headlines »

June 23, 2024 – 12:05 am | Comments Off on G-d Is Knocking, Answer the Call13 views

Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
Rashi, the famed eleventh …

Read the full story »
Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » Ekev, Marriage

Eikev: The Deeper Bond

Submitted by on July 29, 2007 – 5:13 amNo Comment | 2,930 views


Opposites attract. They say this is because life with a like-minded spouse is too agreeable and therefore boring. I say, really? Bring on the boredom. Please!
I think that life with a like-minded spouse is much easier. With no quarrels about when to vacation, where to eat and how much money to spend, life would be a breeze. So we wouldn’t spend as much time arguing. Nu, is that a problem?
Yet despite their disagreements most quarrelsome couples  remain committed to each other. This is one of the world’s many wonders. Why is this so? What is the glue that binds them?
Marriage. Marriage means commitment. Not a commitment to a working marriage, but a commitment to make marriage work. Couples betrothed, form a bond in the depth of their souls. Beyond the pleasure of each other’s company, beyond their passion for each other, lies a love that cannot be described.

Becoming One

In marriage, a part of you in invested in your spouse. You cannot tear away from your spouse without tearing away from yourself. Marriage forms a new entity composed in equal parts of your spouse and yourself. After marriage, the very thought of life without your spouse is inconceivable. Once married, you’re no longer compatible with yourself unless you are with your spouse.
That’s what marriage does. It fuses a husband and wife till they become one. That is why quarreling couples stay in their relationship. Their bond far exceeds their differences.
This is also why opposites attract.
Life with an agreeable spouse is smooth, but placid. It doesn’t stimulate the profound marital bond. It doesn’t challenge the couple to arouse their deep and abiding love. the deeper bond - innerstreamLife with an opposite spouse is tempestuous, but the tempest evokes resilience. This couple quarrels, but in the heat of their quarrels their true bond prevails. Such marriages are complicated, but they are deeper and richer too.

Supernal Marriage

The relationship between husband and wife is often used as a metaphor for the relationship between ourselves and G-d. At Sinai G-d entered into a covenant with our people. He pledged to love and provide for us. We pledged to love and obey him. The relationship has survived thousands of years, but it can hardly be labeled smooth.
At times we are passionate and at times, distant. At times we are intimate and at times, quarrelsome. The quarrels work both ways. G-d turns from us and allows us to suffer, but we often turn from G-d and allow him to wait in vain.
Why did G-d make it so? Had he attuned us to the beauty of Torah, our relationship would have been mutually agreeable. As it is, we are often at each other’s throats. Why did he close our eyes to the allure of divinity, but open them to selfish and physical pleasures?
Because he wanted us to be challenged. When we allow ourselves to be tempted by that, which lures us away from him we are forced to ask ourselves penetrating questions. Who are we and why are we  here? Why should we be dedicated to our relationship with G-d? What is unique about our people?
When our course is unimpeded we need not torment ourselves with such questions, but questions that are never asked remain forever unanswered. A course strewn with pitfalls precipitates a storm of questions. The storm evokes our love and stimulates our bond with G-d. Our relationship is more complicated this way, but it is richer and deeper too.

The Era of “Now”

We now understand the deeper meaning of a curious verse in the Torah. Moses addressed the Israelites and said to them, “Now Israel, what does G-d your Lord ask of you, but to fear. . . and to love him.” (1)
Why did Moses preface the question with the word, “now?” Also, why did he preface the statement with a rhetorical question when he could simply have stated G-d’s wish?
Moses addressed himself to the Israelites, “Now Israel”. Our forefather Jacob was given the name Israel when he quarreled with and overcame the angel of Esau. The Hebrew name Yisrael, comes from the Hebrew word sarita, which means you have quarreled. Indeed we each quarrel with our virtual Esau, the little inner voice that lures us away from G-d and Torah and steers us toward coarse and selfish pleasures.
This struggle was made possible when G-d concealed himself and denied us perception of his true beauty. If we could truly appreciate divine beauty we would never be tempted. In the Messianic era we will indeed not be tempted for G-d will then lift the veil and his true beauty will be perceived.
Moses opened with the word, “now” because this struggle, the struggle of “Yisrael,” takes place only now, in the current era, in contradistinction to the future, Messianic, era. (2)

The Inner “What?”

Why does G-d make it so that we have to struggle? Because he wants us to stimulate our what.” What is what?” It is the inner core of our soul that recognizes G-d as the only true entity of meaning. By comparison, every other meaning is negated. They are, but what? This negation need not be stated. It is sufficient to imply it in a one-word rhetorical question.
Moses said of Aaron and of himself, “What are we?” He wasn’t asking a question as much as offering an answer. We are, but what? A rhetorical question, minimized by any attempt at response. (3)
The Talmud teaches, “Fools are those, who lose “what” they are given. (4) This is closely related to another Talmudic teaching. “All sinners are overcome by a spirit of folly that prompts them to forget their bond with G-d.” (5) So who can become a fool? Who is overcome by a spirit of folly? Those who have first rejected their core. Those, who have lost the innate sense of what that they were given.  (6)
Without the struggle it is nearly impossible to experience the inner core, the what? This is why G-d forced us into a quarrelsome relationship with him, where we must struggle with our personal Esau, overcome it and earn the name Israel. It is the only way to uncover our core and experience our what.
Let’s go back and reread the verse. “Now Israel, what does G-d your Lord ask of you, but to fear. . . and to love him.” It is a question. Why did G-d ordain the struggle of “Israel” in this era of, “Now?” Because, “What, does G-d, Your Lord want from you.” He wants us to stimulate our  “what,” which leads to a life of passion that allows us to, “fear and love him.” (7)


  1. Deuteronomy, 10: 12.
  2. For a similar, but slightly different slant on the word, “what,” see Ohr Hachayim (R. Chaim Ibn Atar, Morocco, 1696-1743) Ibid.
  3. Exodus, 16: 7.
  4. Bab. Talmud, Chagigah, 4a.
  5. Bab. Talmud, Sotah 3a.
  6. This is also why our sages said, “An Israelite, even though he sinned is still an Israelite.” (Bab. Talmud, Sanhedrin, 44a) They didn’t speak of a Jew, but an Israelite. Israelite are those, who overcome their struggles against their inner Esaus. Even when Israelites act like fools by losing the what that they are given and allowing themselves to be overcome by the spirit of folly, they remain at essence and at heart, Israelites. Jews, who have the inner strength to overcome their inclinations and repent.
  7. This essay is based in part on Ohr Hatorah (R.Menachem M. Schneerson, Third Rebbe of Lubavitch, 1789-1866), Devarim, p. 678 and Sefer Mamarim Melukat II (R. Menachem M Schneerson, Rebbe of Lubavitch, NY, 1902-1994) p. 325.

Tags: , ,