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.
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.
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."
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.
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:
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
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.