Few moments in life compare to the one enjoyed at the time of matrimony. Marriage is a true Jewish simcha celebrated with seven blessings for the new couple.
The fifth of these sheva berachos asks G-d to gladden the chassan and kallah “as You gladdened Your creations in the Garden of Eden.” The happiness of Adam and Chavah is singled out as the supreme example of the blessing one wishes upon every Jewish union. Why did our Sages choose their relationship as the standard for this blessing?
Soon after his creation, the Torah informs us, Adam became lonely. G-d brought before him all the creatures of the earth from which he could choose a mate, but Adam found none suitable. So G-d fashioned for him a mate from one of Adam’s own sides; G-d created Chavah from within.
This sequence was no accident. G-d had a strategy. His intention was for Adam to experience a period of loneliness and yearning in order to intensify the love and appreciation he would feel once his life’s partner was created. Owing to this series of events, Adam and Chavah knew that they were, literally, made for each other.
The happiness that accompanies the knowledge of having found one’s true soul-mate is the happiness we wish for every new couple in the sheva berachos blessing.
The nature of this happiness is further reflected in a distinction between the fifth and sixth blessings. The fifth blesses G-d “Who gladdens the chassan and kallah,” whereas the sixth blesses G-d “Who gladdens the chassan with the kallah.” The distinction is subtle but powerful.
First, we wish each of them, the chassan and the kallah, a personal joy. We recognize them as two individual people, each with a unique background and education, each striving for self-perfection, each requiring and deserving a separate blessing, one that fits his or her original mission.
Next, we bless them together, as a single entity — chassan with kallah. We wish them happiness and success as a family unit, as another stone in the grand structure of Am Yisrael. With this blessing we emphasize that the individual accomplishments of each were but a prelude for all that is to come in their lifetime together.
For all our good intentions, one must still ask: How can a couple live up to these blessings of happiness? An important ingredient for marital success can be gleaned from the description in Parshas Shemini of the Mishkans inauguration.
After the Tabernacle is erected, the Torah details Aharon’s every move as he performs the service for the first time. He slaughters and skins and readies the animals for the altar. But, according to the text, just before G-d sends down a fire from Above to consume the meat, Moshe and Aharon convene in an adjacent tent. No explanation is given for the sudden interruption of the day’s main event. What was so important that it had to be discussed at the very moment the Jewish people were all assembled, anticipating the culmination of Aharon’s inaugural service? What was the purpose of this sideline conference?
Rashi fills in the missing scenes. Though one would not be aware of it from reading the text, the fire that descended from the heavens almost didn’t. Aharon and Moshe waited for G-d to send down His fire to consume the offerings, but it did not come. Aharon blamed himself. “I know that G-d is angry with me,” he said. “And because of me, His Presence did not descend upon Israel” (Vayikra 9:23). Moshe then accompanied him to the tent where they both prayed and sought G-d’s mercy.
How atypical and honorable was Aharon’s response to a terribly embarrassing situation. Aharon certainly could have looked elsewhere for a legitimate reason for this failure. His actions that day were not a personal effort. In attempting to prevail upon G-d to rest His Divine Presence among the Jewish people, Aharon was not representing himself, but the entire nation of Israel. He could have faulted the nation for not being worthy. Why should he accept liability for G-d’s reluctance? Why should he blame himself when others’ shortcomings could have been responsible?
But he does. Aharon’s reaction demonstrates his selflessness, the dedication he felt toward his nation to the extent that he publicly took personal responsibility when events went awry. He did not look beyond his own shortcomings to explain what had happened.
By working together to overcome life’s obstacles and rise to meet its challenges, you will grow and prosper, attaining the berachah of happiness as individuals, happiness as a family and insuring that the Divine Presence rests upon your home.