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Monday, July 11, 2011

PInchas, Drasha for Sheva Brachos (#5)

The Medrash (בראשית רבה פרשה ס"ח:ג-ד, ויקרא רבה פרשה ח:א, במדבר רבה פרשה ג:ו)  tells the following story.


רבי יהודה בר סימון פתח (תהלים ס"ח) 'אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה'. מטרונה שאלה את ר' יוסי בר חלפתא אמרה לו לכמה ימים ברא הקב"ה את עולמו, אמר לה לששת ימים, כדכתיב (שמות כ') 'כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ'. אמרה לו מה הוא עושה מאותה שעה ועד עכשיו, אמר לה הקב"ה יושב ומזווג זיווגים, בתו של פלוני לפלוני, אשתו של פלוני לפלוני, ממונו של פלוני לפלוני.


Someone asked Rav Yosi ben Chalafta, if it took Hashem six days to create the world, how does He spend his time since then?  He answered that Hashem spends His time making shidduchim.


I wonder, given that shidduchim are important, are they so important that the Ribono shel Olam needs to spend time working on them?  And what would be so bad if they were just left to chance, like the rest of the world does it?


And the Gemara (Moed Kattan 18b) reiterates this lesson; whatever you think about hashgacha pratis, shidduchim are in the hands of the Ribono shel Olam, and only the most serious and concerted effort of tefilla (see Rashi there DH או איהו) can circumvent that will.
אמר רב משום רבי ראובן בן אצטרובילי מן התורה ומן הנביאים ומן הכתובים מה' אשה לאיש.   מן התורה- דכתיב (בראשית כד) ויען לבן ובתואל ויאמרו מה' יצא הדבר. מן הנביאים- דכתיב (שופטים יד) ואביו ואמו לא ידעו כי מה' היא. מן הכתובים דכתיב (משלי יט) בית והון נחלת אבות ומה' אשה משכלת
In fact, the Medrash immediately before the one I quoted above says the same as the Gemara:
ר' אבהו פתח (משלי י"ט) 'בית והון נחלת אבות ומה' אשה משכלת'. רבי פנחס בשם ר' אבהו מצינו בתורה בנביאים ובכתובים שאין זיווגו של איש אלא מן הקב"ה. בתורה מנין (בראשית כ"ד) 'ויען לבן ובתואל ויאמרו מה' יצא הדבר'. בנביאים (שופטים י"ד) 'ואביו ואמו לא ידעו כי מה' הוא'. בכתובים היינו דכתיב (משלי י"ט) 'ומה' אשה משכלת'. יש שהוא הולך אצל זיווגו ויש שזיווגו בא אצלו. יצחק זיווגו בא אצלו, 'וירא והנה גמלים באים'. יעקב הלך אצל זיווגו, דכתיב 'ויצא יעקב'.


So what's so important about this?  Why, of all events in life, does the Gemara describe zivug as so vital, so essential, that the Ribono shel Olam can be said to spend all His time after Brias Ha"olam in organizing Shidduchim?


Chazal (Shavuos 30b, regarding Rav Huna's wife appearing in court before Reb Nachman) tell us that אשת חבר הרי היא כחבר, the wife of a Talmid Chacham must be shown the same respect as her husband.  Why is this true?  Simply, one might say that it is similar to honoring one's older brother, or a step mother, where the honor shown to them inures to the father.  I believe there is more to it than that.



מעשה בר"ש בן חלפתא שבא ערב שבת ולא היה לו מאן להתפרנס יצא לו חוץ מן העיר והתפלל לפני האלהים וניתן לו אבן טובה מן השמים נתנה לשולחני ופרנס אותה שבת אמרה אשתו מהיכן אלו אמר לה ממה שפרנס הקב"ה אמרה אם אין אתה אומר לי מהיכן הן איני טועמת כלום התחיל מספר לה אמר לה כך נתפללתי לפני האלהים וניתן לי מן השמים אמרה לו איני טועמת כלום עד שתאמר לי שתחזירה מוצאי שבת אמר לה למה אמרה לו אתה רוצה שיהא שולחנך חסר ושולחן חבירך מלא והלך ר' שמעון והודיע מעשה לרבי אמר לו לך אמור לה אם שולחנך חסר אני אמלאנו משלי הלך ואמר לה אמרה לו לך עמי למי שלמדך תורה אמרה לו ר' וכי רואה אדם לחבירו לעוה"ב לא כל צדיק וצדיק הוה ליה עולם בעצמו שנאמר (קהלת יב) כי הולך האדם אל בית עולמו וסבבו בשוק הסופדים עולמים אין כתיב אלא עולמו כיון ששמע כן הלך והחזיר
(Shmos Rabba 52:3)

Reb Shimon ben Chalafta needed money for shabbos, got a gem from shamayim, pawned it for money and bought food,  he brought it home and his wife asked him where'd you get the money for this stuff.  He told her what happened, and she said I won't eat a bite of  the food until you promise me you'll return the precious stone Motzei Shabbos.

This was the only time this happened; he always had money to buy shabbos, but this happened to be a bad week, and he thought he could use the miracle with nobody knowing.  His wife sniffed out the secret.  Not only did she sniff out his secret, she told him that she refused to benefit from a neis.  She said, everyone else will have full tables, and we'll have a hole in middle? Reb Shimon went to Rebbi, and Rebbi said, tell her I'll give you from my table in Olam Haba.  She said, I'm going to Rebbi with you, and we'll see.  She said to Rebbi, since when can a person get anything from another in OhB?  Everyone has his own world, no more and no less!  You can't go next door and borrow a cup of sugar in Shamayim!  When he heard this, he agreed to give it back.  (There is a similar story in Taanis 25a involving Reb Chanina ben Dosa and his wife.)

Do you realize who we're talking about here?   The greatest gedolim of the generation that wrote the Mishnayos, people who would have been nevi'im if their generation merited it.  They were geniuses and tzadikim that spent every waking moment in the Beis Medrash learning with all their strength from the gedolei hador, arguing, discussing, thinking, memorizing, with siyata dishmaya, and Mrs. Chalafta and Mrs. Dosa were at home changing diapers and sewing and doing the laundry.  And when it came to this very important matter of hashkafa, of what is right and what is wrong, of what a person ought to be doing and working towards in life, these women blew them all away and made it crystal clear to them that they were wrong.  They out thought them and out haskafa'ed them.  


This reminds me of the story with the Brisker Rov.  His Rebbitzen was over cleaning for Pesach, and he told her that she didn't need to do half of what she was doing.  She answered "If I would listen to you, we would have been eating Chametz at the Seder for a long time."

That is what the Netziv (Harchev Davar Breishis 2:18, and see Haamek Davar Breishis 4:19) calls an eizer k'negdo.  The netziv says, eizer k'negdo means that when you go off the track, your wife will help you by pointing out what you are doing wrong.  She will praise her husband when he should be praised, but also offer him insights that he would otherwise not have.  The latter, showing him his mistake when necessary, is the greater service.


The binah yeseirah that a woman has can grow without limit.  The only limit to its growth is the husband's madreigah.  In a properly constituted home, in a home where the husband and wife share ideas of avodas Hashem and mussar, the husband and wife will grow together.  The wife will grow from what she learns from the husband, and the husband will grow from what he learns from his wife, and the two will create a shleimus and kedusha far greater than the sum of what they could have created individually.  No matter what the husband's madreiga, his wife will have rachamim and bina yeseirah to offer that he should heed.  No  matter what the wife's madreiga, the husband will have chochma and gevura that the she should heed.  Avraham Avinu would have been different without a Sara.  Sara without an Avraham would never have come to a madreiga of nevua of כל אשר תאמר לך.  One without the other simply would not be a Tzelem Elokim.  (See note 1.)

Each party contributes their share to the Hashra'as Hashechina of a Bayis Ne'eman, and each contribution is unique and essential.

In Parshas Pinchas, Hashem counts the Jewish People again.  The Kli Yakar here (26:10), on the passuk .  Le'Chanoch, mishpachas haChanochi, le'Chetzron, etc, points out that the family names have an extra hei and yud, "haPalu'i, haChetzroni."  These two letters form name of Hashem.  Why does it appear specifically here?  Because Klal Yisrael was never suspected of pritzus, even the sonei yisrael knew that the Jewish family is kodesh kadashim.  But after Bnos Midian, the nations said "They’re no different than the rest of us, their blood was mixed when they were slaves in Mitzrayim."  So Hashem said eidus that they were pure.  The eidus is evident in the name of Hashem, the yud and the hei, which is the shechina that is brought about by a holy family life, the Yud from ish and and the Hei from isha.  They were each born from parents whose marriage created a hashra’as hashechina in their home. 

So why is the hei first?  The yud is the man's and the hei is the woman's contribution!  He answers that the as far as the right to inherit Eretz Yisrael, the women were more entitled than the men.  Their entitlement was based on two things in which they outdid the men of that generation- Tzniyus and the Love of Eretz Yisrael.  In 26:64, he explains that this is one of the reasons that the parsha ends by saying “uv’eileh lo hoyoh ish.”  Rashi- No Ish who had been counted earlier survived to be counted again, but many nashim.  Although the gzeira of the midbar affected the men, which is why Hashem counted them again, but there were plenty of elderly women who did enter Eretz Yisrael.  Rashi says that the reason is because they were lovers of Eretz Yisrael; when the men looked for excuses not to enter Eretz Yisrael, the women never gave up hope that they would be zocheh to live in Eretz Yisrael, so they weren’t affected by the gzeiras meraglim.  Rashi reiterates this in the beginning of the parsha of bnos Tzelafchad as to why they were nisyacheis to Yosef.  Yosef was also mechaveiv Eretz Yisrael- he said Veha’alisem es atzmosai.  Bnos Tzelofchod, descendants of Yosef, embodied the mesora of chibas ha’aretz.  Also, Yosef was famously chaste, and it was these characteristics that shone forth in the women of that generation.

So we see that the kedusha that is created in a Jewish home, in a home of hashra'as hashechina, a home in which both the husband and the wife learn from each other, that kedusha is a gift from the Ribono shel Olam that can be gotten nowhere but the hand of Hashem.  It's a shleimus that can't be achieved by yourself.  Yes, a man should be a man, dedicated to עמלות בתורה  and gevura,  and a woman should be a woman, nurturing, a paragon of צניעות and  בטחון.  But most importantly, the man and the woman must talk to each other, discuss spiritual matters with each other, share their growth with each other.  The husband learns from the binah and middos of his wife and incorporates and remakes them in his own distinctive masculine persona, and the woman learns from the chochma and gevura of the husband and incorporates and reinvents that chochma in her distinctive feminine character.  And that is how the true Tzelem Elokim is created. 



I suggest that this is the pshat in the first bracha of the Sheva Brachos, Shehakol Bara Lichvodo.  Hakol means disparate parts combined.  It is only with Hakol that Hashem's shechina can truly be revealed in the world.  The Hakol is the bond of kedusha and love and mutual respect and intertwined pursuit of shleimus between a husband and wife, the Shleimus of the Bayis Ne'eman that creates the Hashra'as Hashechina.

 Notes:
1.  The Abudraham brings from the Gemara in Kiddushin that the reason there are two brachos in Sheva Brachos on the same topic- Yotzer Ha'adam and Yatzar es Ha'adam BeTzalmo is that one refers to the first stage of creation and the other to the second.  He explains that the "second stage of creation" means after Chava was created- and that only then can we truly refer to humankind as having the Tzelem Elokim.  Man alone is not the Tzelem Elokim, and woman alone is not the Tzelem Elokim.  Only man plus woman is the Tzelem Elokim.  He, of course, is talking about the middos of gevura and rachamim and bina and so forth, which is the point of this Dvar Torah.


2.  The Netziv actually says that some people used to marry two wives, one for beauty and silence, and one as a peer that would advise and criticize when necessary.  The same is certainly true now.  Some women are just pieces of fluff with no involvement in their husband's spiritual or intellectual or financial life, and some men are totally unaffected by the middos of their wives.  Their intersection is purely utilitarian and does not change them at all.  When this happens, it's the fault of both parties.  That's why I said that the optimum arrangement, where each grows and the other grows with them, is a matter of sharing and discussion and empathy and only happens in a well-constituted home.  It's not automatic.


3.  Daniel, in the comments, writes that he doesn't believe that all marriages are bashert.  There are rishonim that agree with him.  The Gemara in Sotah 2b and Sanhedrin 22a goes like this:




כי הוה פתח ריש לקיש בסוטה אמר הכי :
'אין מזווגין לו לאדם אשה אלא לפי מעשיו' שנאמר :"כי לא ינוח שבט הרשע על גורל הצדיקים"(תהילים קכה')
אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר ר' יוחנן וקשים לזווגן כקריעת ים סוף, שנאמר: "אלהים מושיב יחידים ביתה מוציא אסירים בכושרות"(תהילים סח').
 איני (האמנם)?
והא אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: ארבעים יום קודם יצירת הולד בת קול יוצאת ואומרת בת פלוני לפלוני בית פלוני לפלוני שדה פלוני לפלוני?
לא קשיא. הא בזוג ראשון הא בזוג שני:

The Gemara contrasts the usual statement of shidduchim being a matter of fate with Reish Lakish'es statement that  a shidduch is a result of one's behavior and merit.  The Gemara answers that one is in regard to zivug rishon, the first match, and the other in regard to zivug sheini, the second.  What rishon and sheini mean is argued among the rishonim.  Rashi, of course, learns it means chronologically.  However, others hold exactly the opposite.  The Akeida and others learn that it means alternative models, one the preferred, and one not preferred.  So Yes, Daniel is right.  But there are things that are worth believing even if they are not true.

4.    Yes, I know that the Medrash also says אשתו של פלוני לפלוני, ממונו של פלוני לפלוני.  It's a vort, not the yud gimmel ikrim.  The main point is that אשת חבר הרי היא כחבר is not just a din in being mechabed the talmid chacham.  It is based on the spiritual resonance that develops between husband and wife in the marriage envisioned in the Torah.


5.  It's possible that what I'm saying about אשת חבר הרי היא כחבר is based on the concept of גדול שימושה יותר מלימודה (Brachos 7b, and see Tosfos Kesuvos 17a DH Mevatlin).  That's not very different than what I'm saying.


6. Someone wrote that this Dvar Torah is mawkish.  MAWKISH!  It's a sheva brachos drasha, so deal with it.  But it's nice to be excoriated with style.





14 comments:

Daniel said...

You're understanding from the midrashim that EVERY shidduch is from HKB"H and that no zivug can come by means of chaos and randomness. I disagree and I think the proofs of the midrashim themselves point this out.

1- Shimshon ואביו ואמו לא ידעו כי מה' הוא- if EVERY zivug is from shamayim than why would shimshon's parents not know that, by definition, if Shimshon successfully marries Delilah that it will be מה'?? The pasuk clearly implies that they thought the possibility of a zivug NOT מה'.

2- If EVERY zivug is from shamayim why does the pasuk limit it to אשה משכלת?

Granted that the lashon sounds pretty definitive אין זווגו של איש אלא מן הקב"ה, I'd like to be מדחיק because of the above and stress the זווגו and not זווג. i.e. only בת מזליה is מהקב"ה but other zivugim can occur thru human insistence asserting itself on a chaotic random world.

b said...

Daniel, I edited the post to address your point.

Daniel said...

I am not aware of a source that ממון של פלוני לפלוני, only שדה של פלוני לפלוני. The difference being that the Torah is מקיש a woman to שדה מערת המכפלה but not to ממון. Hence the two go hand in hand with the בת קול.

Drashot cannot be "relaxed" because "it's just a vort". "little cute vorts" are how people's lives get destroyed. I've seen it. חכמים הזהרו בדבריכם.
שגגת תלמוד עולה זדון...

Michael Kopinsky said...

"Hakol means disparate parts, as we say in Krias Shma, Bechol Levovcho meaning both the yeitzer hatov and the yeitzer hara"

I thought that was learned from the double beis in levavcha.


From the medrash:
הקב"ה יושב ומזווג זיווגים, בתו של פלוני לפלוני, אשתו של פלוני לפלוני, ממונו של פלוני לפלוני

Am I understanding this correctly? HKBH is arranging who will lose his money to whom, and who will lose his wife to whom???

Barzilai said...

Memono is in the Medrash I bring in the beginning. In other places it does say Sadeh.

I wasn't just being glib and indifferent to coherence. Although it does say sadeh and ishto and memono, it is obvious that the medrash, in all three places, and the similar statements elsewhere in Chazal, is focusing on shidduchim, on zivug.

One can be precise and thorough and boring to death, or one can emphasize interesting and relevant elements in order to make an effective and memorable and resonant presentation. It's not a matter of falsity, it's a matter of focus. Anyone that doesn't realize that is rationalizing a pre-existing but unadmitted loss of faith.
When you write halacha, you write with care for every word and every implication. When you write about matters of emunah, you write with strict scrutiny. When you write drush, you write what you think is a valid interpretation of the words of Chazal, but you assume some sophistication on the part of the reader, who should understand that the main focus is on the truth of the mussar haskeil. As Avraham ben haRambam famously says about Agadeta.

I write in the style of drush, והרוצה לטעות יבוא ויטעה.

Michael Kopinsky said...

Daniel,

"little cute vorts" are how people's lives get destroyed. I've seen it.

I agree that drush needs to be rigorous, but isn't this a bit over the top? How do they ruin lives? (Other than teaching shoddy thinking skills...)

One thing that I actually like about havolim is that Barzilai actually does take a serious approach to drush - one that seriously looks at texts as well as at reality.

b said...

Michael- my mistake. I was thinking about Reb Meir and Reb Yehuda in BB 140b on Beirach es Avraham bakol. My mistake. Truth is, though, that even though it's not a good tzushtell to Krias Shma, it's a decent pshat in Hakol Bara Lichvodo. But lets see if I can fix it.

b said...

As far as Ishto shel ploni, that certainly did raise my eyebrows too. I would have taken it out to avoid the distraction, but I don't have the chutzpah to play with medrashim.

Thank you for the agreement about drush methodology. It is hard to know exactly where to draw the line, but I very much dislike it when the line is so far over that it becomes frivolous.

Daniel said...

I admit that I did not carefully look at the entire post and missed the quote from the midrash. Admitted. However, a few things:
1- It's bereishit Rabba 68, not 61.
2- There in Bereishit Rabba and Vayikra Rabba the matnot kehuna says the mamono is a mistake, taken from the context of Bamidbar Rabba 3:16 where there it discusses rich and poor
3- You may be correct that I'm coming with an axe to grind... I'm not convinced though that my point is not valid. but point taken, I certainly suffer from a loss of faith. bivracha,

Michael Kopinsky said...

The thing is, ishto shel ploni isn't [only] a distraction. It is very relevant to the question of first/second shidduch.

Michael Kopinsky said...

That is also a good reason not to have the chutzpah to play with midrashim. One edits out something that you think is a distraction, doesn't realize that is gufa relevant to pshat.

Daniel said...

Michael - ruining lives...let's take this post as an example. Absent my comments, a reader could have taken that every shidduch is from shamayim. How can you not see how such an assumption can lead to many mistaken choices of action?

a- I don't like the girl, don't enjoy the marriage, but it's from shamayim so let's keep to it until frustration and anger explodes

b- i really like girl x, but i want to push off marriage for another year to learn, but since every marriage is from shamayim I can afford to push it off, after all if she's meant for me then she'll still be around in a years time
c- every marriage is from shamayim, so if a single person is old and never married it must be something he's done or doing wrong since, all things being equal, shamayim would certainly be happy to give him his shidduch. Result: self-pitying, desperate, miserable 40 somethings depressed and miserable at the thought that they are guilty of their own marital failures (which in truth is not ALWAYS the case)

b said...

Daniel-
1. Thanks. Fixed.
2. Good! I wonder how Artscroll is going to deal with the numerous and serious issues in girsa'os.
3. As were all do. But I am blessed with a family of baalei bitachon to whom I look when smitten with doubts. It also helps to be immersed in Torah, and since I've been giving a shiur for twenty five years and have many children and grandchildren that are learning all day and a good part of the night, I have a natural shmira from mazikim.

Michael-
Ishto is just too strange for me to even give a moment's thought. If you find or have a good pshat, I'd be happy to hear it. I do know, however, that it is consistent with Rashi there in Moed Kattan that I alluded to- 18b DH או איהו. But I don't have to like it.

Michael Kopinsky said...

I don't disagree, but it's interesting that you refer to a loss of faith as "mazikim".