- March 3, 2023
- Posted by: DR Jack
- Category: Parsha
The first stage of the marriage ceremony, known as kiddushin, occurs when the chassan places the ring on his beloved’s finger while saying, “Behold, you are mekudeshes to me according to the law of Moshe and Israel.” Although this declaration appears simple and straightforward, its composition is actually intricate.
The word mekudeshes means both designated and consecrated. In one sense, the kallah is designated as the wife of the chassan. But the choice of this word also indicates that marriage, rather than being a temporal union of man and woman, is in truth infused with sanctity. When someone is mekadeish an object, he consecrates it, setting it aside for G-d and apart from the rest of the world. By joining together in marriage, man and woman, too, set themselves apart from the rest of the world.
Kedushah denotes exclusivity. To be mekadeish is to separate in order to elevate. Kedushah, moreover, does not rest on the surface; it penetrates. For a jewish marriage to be complete, sanctity must not merely be present but must be pervasive.
When two people marry they must strive to be one, to share one heartbeat, to share all burdens. Then they too are sanctified.
Another valuable lesson for the chassan and kallah is learned from the inclusion in the kiddushin formula of the phrase, “according to the law of Moshe and Israel.” Why this phrase rather than simply, “according to the Torah”? Why does the chassan’s declaration refer to the legacy of Moshe and the Jewish people?
The answer lies not in what is found in Parshas Tetzaveh, but in what is not found there. Tetzaveh is unique in that it is the only parshah, after his birth, not to mention Moshe’s name. This omission came from Moshe’s persistence that G-d forgive the Jews for worshiping the Golden Calf, “and if not, please erase me from Your book that You wrote” (Shemos 32:32). Although G-d ultimately did forgive His people, Moshe’s request was still heeded to a limited extent. The Gemara (Berachos 32a) states that Moshe was risking his life for the Jewish people when he issued this ultimatum.
Moshe’s relationship with the Jewish people was one of absolute devotion and self-sacrifice, and is therefore inserted into the kiddushin formula. When a man and a woman are married they become bound to one another in selfless devotion just as Moshe was bound to the Jewish people. The process of kiddushin is marked by unqualified altruism.
Marriage in Jewish terms, therefore, involves unity, responsibility and sacrifice. Exactly how are these qualities infused into a relationship? Again, Parshas Tetzaveh provides an answer.
My dear chassan and kallah, the overwhelming feelings of love and devotion that engulf you as a newlywed couple are lofty, beautiful and, yes, holy. But they are just a beginning. Emotions ebb and flow like the raging waves of a stormy sea. The most intense yearning of a human being can fade as swiftly as a fleeting cloud. Only when those feelings are buttressed by ceaseless demonstrations of commitment are they crystalized. Only then can a successful jewish home be built. With sacrifice and responsibility demonstrated mutually constantly you will bring kedushah to your kiddushin and merit the realization of your dreams together as you build a home infused with sanctity.