The Give and Take of Marriage – The Real Reason Why Marriages Fail and People Don’t Marry


Falling in Love – Fact or Fiction

It’s called Falling in love. I’m in love. It’s a tactic to get people to marry.

OK. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it does not.

Let’s examine the situation. It is a Mitzvah – commandment – from the Torah for Jewish Men to marry and have children. It is a Mitzvah from the Seven Noahide laws from the Torah for Gentiles to populate the earth. Thus getting married is a Mitzvah for most people.

Searching for the Cold Truth

Some have it tough finding the right mate. Some have it tough once they are married. So let’s understand the purpose of marriage.

Have a question? Want the Truth? Ask a person who is well versed in Torah. The general reason for getting married in Judaism is to be able to do kindness to one another – to ultimately become a kind and good person.

The Foundation of Torah

Once a man wanted to convert to Judaism. He went to the great Torah sage Shammai and asked – “Please teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot.” He wanted to learn the foundation that the Torah is built upon. Shammai thought he was mocking him and drove him away with his measuring stick.

Then the same man went to the great sage Hillel and asked – “Please teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot.” Hillel said “Whatever is hateful to you – don’t do to others. This is the whole Torah – everything else is related details.” Rabbi Akiva said “You Shall Love your fellow as yourself is the great foundation of the Torah.”

Doing Kindness to Others Starts at Home

If that is the foundation of the Torah – then the commandment of Loving your fellow is also, intrinsically related to Marriage. When I get married I have an opportunity to do kindness every day to my wife or a woman to her husband, and kids. People forget this principle.

The reason – because I am more concerned about the other’s responsibility towards me – than my responsibility towards them. Many a time a date started off by one partner wanting to take from the other. The man had desires. The woman had emotional relationship desires – marrying would serve to fulfill both. But their reason for marriage was to Take.

Are You a Giver or a Taker – or both

They say it was love – but it was really “fish love.” “Fish love” is when a person says “I love fish.” The honest person would retort that comment – “If you loved fish – you wouldn’t pull it out of the water, let it die, scale it cut it up, cook it and eat it. You don’t love fish you love yourself.” An honest person should see where are they holding – is their main intention to give or to take?

The Torah says – the foundation of marriage is to give. If each partner put their sights on giving – rather than taking it’s much more likely the marriage would last. That is one thing young people should be taught before marriage. Your job is to give. Your job is to become better. Your job is to give to your spouse to better yourself.

Some Don’t Marry because they go into the marriage with the Hashkafa / outlook of the Society – rather than the Hashkafa of the Torah. Society says “You have RIGHTS!”. The Torah says “You have responsibilities.” Society says “Take”. The Torah says “Give.” They look at what they want to receive in a marriage. They do not look at what they can provide in a marriage. I want a rich man. I want beauty. I want a professional. I want a romantic person. Keep dreaming. Better to find someone who is similar in Torah values. Someone with whom you have potential to build a Torah family.

Torah Truth in Marriage

In Torah we want to reach truth. Truth trumps. If you are right according to Torah and I am wrong – I should follow you. A person should be on the level to accept truth even if it is not convenient. Thus I tell couples to send their Children to Torah day schools – because there they get a good Torah education as opposed to public schools. Torah schools teach Torah values – Public schools teach decadence. I was outside a public elementary school. They were singing a Disco song from the 80’s. Yes – that is how a parent wants to educate their children – with Disco songs?

I also recommend to Intermarried couple – in which one of the spouse are Jewish – for the non-Jewish spouse to convert to Judaism with an Orthodox Jewish conversion that will be accepted by the government Beit Din of Israel. Why?

Firstly – look at truth. What is the true religion of G-d. All major religions agree that the Torah is True. So they agree on that point – the Torah is true. [If you don’t accept that point – look up Discovery seminar of] What they don’t agree upon is – Did G-d change his mind? The others say – Yes G-d “changed His Mind”. Judaism says “No. G-d did not change His mind. He did not change the laws of the Torah.” What makes more sense to you?

Secondly – a person who keeps his religion – apparently agrees with their religion’s past transgressions. Other religions were notorious for persecuting Jews. Imagine being in a relationship that non-Jewish partners has an “ax to grind” with the Jewish partner. No thank you.

Bearing Insult for Peace

For the man – who craves honor – should be ready to bear insult to make things work. To the woman – who craves appreciation – should be ready to bear non-gratitude – to make the marriage work – until each reaches the level to understand and provide for the other’s needs.

My Chevruta – Torah Learning Partner – who learns in the same building of the Jewish Beit Din [court of law] resides told me of a story of a newlywed couple that divorced. The mother of the bride told her daughter to step on the foot of her husband under the Huppah – marriage canopy. Some say that it is a segulah – to assure that the stepper will dominate in the marriage. The girl listened. The boy didn’t appreciate it. He went to the beit din to break the marriage. Three mistakes – the mother got involved in the relationship of the couple. Two – the girl listened. Three – the man wasn’t willing to bear insult.

Self-Improvement through Marriage

But it is not really bearing insult for a man – it is using the ques of the wife for self improvement. A man thinks – wow – look how my wife disrespected me. According to Torah a woman at times mimics the man’s actions. If he disrespected his employee that day – his wife may do the same thing to him – because Hash-m made the world in a manner that the nature of things is measure for measure. What you mete out you get back. So if a man instead of wanting to retaliate when his wife insults him – he should first introspect to see if he did something similar to someone else what his wife is subjecting himself to now.

The Book “Garden of Peace” for a man – talks about this concept. G-d asked Avraham, our forefather – why did his wife Sarah laugh when an angel said she was going to bear children at the age of 90. Did G-d want create discord in their couple? No. G-d was basically telling Avraham – if your wife is skeptical about having children at such an advanced age – then she must be reflecting a imperfection of skepticism in your outlook.

Obviously each gives and takes to a certain measure. The question is are you trying to develop yourself to becoming more of a giver or more of a taker?

Give up your lofty expectations. Become a giver and see how your marriage will improve.

The You are Amazing Activity Book


At Ohr Binyamin – we are busy making new materials. Our latest project is the “You are Amazing” activity book.

It is a Positivity Magazine. “Be Positive. Love Yourself. Love Others and Smile!” A Jewish Interactivity Book – it allows one to take a more positive approach to life. It allows you to connect with children and others with KID CONNECT(tm) Questions.

It contains games, Mazes, Positive Statements and more.

Coming Soon to the Jerusalem Life Supersite.

Segulas of Lag BaO’mer

We had a bonfire outside our shul for Lag BaO’mer. This bonfire has various explanations. Fire represents light. Light represents Torah. Fire represents Torah. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yoh’ai hid in a cave for 13 years to escape Roman persecution. There he studied with his son Elazar in a cave. He brought much light in the world – by illuminating us with the Zohar – Jewish Book of Mysticism.

Many other segulas and reasons for the bonfire: The Yanuka said – one reason is to remember that one should prefer to jump into a fire than to embarrass a person in public. I heard a segula for refuah is to throw a recently used piece of clothing of that person into the lag baomer bonfire.

Here are the details:

סגולה נוראה וחשובה.

ביום ל”ג בעומר אם יש איזה חולה במשפחה או חולי גוף או חולי נפש. או כל צרה שיש לאדם יקח האדם החולה וכדומה או אחד ממשפחתו בגד שלו וישליך אל תוך המדורה שנדלקה לכבוד התנא רבי שמעון בר יוחאי ויאמר אני שורף הבגד של פלוני בן פלונית באש לכבוד התנא. ויהי רצון שישרף החולי השוכן בתוכו או הכשוף שבו או עין רעה שבו או כל מניעה וחסימה ושב ורפא לפב”פ.

Here are 10 Segulot for Lag BaOmer

BLSHKA – to help you prepare your Kids in the Morning

Getting kids to school on time is challenging.

It starts with them understanding the value of being on time. They learn that with how parents view time. Do they have to be on time – or getting their a little late is alright?

Getting into the rote can help. I put together a Mneumonic to help parents “BLSHKA”

B – Breakfast (Did they eat a Healthy Breakfast?)
L – Lunch (Did they pack their lunch)
S – Snack (Do they have a regular & Healthy snack?)
H – Homework (Did they pack their homework?)
K – Knapsack – (Do they have their Knapsack?)
S – Attached (Are they Buckled or attached when riding to school?)

Feel free to add make up your own for regular tasks. I used to assure my children ate bread in the morning (Pat Shaharit). So originally – the mnemonic was PShLSHKA.

The Counting Up to Shavuot – Spiritual Growth and Lessons to Prevent Divorce

Starting the Second day of Pesach / Passover we start counting the Omer – a personal barley offering that is made by farmers between the fesivals of Passover (for the Jew’s freedom from Egypt) and Shavuot (the receiving of the Torah.)- a total of 49 days. This counting Corresponds to two countings – one is what day of the offerings it is in this offering. It also corresponds to how many days have passed in the counting up of days to Shavuot.

Usually when one looks forward to an event they count down. How many more days till their birthday, how many more days till their marriage, how many more days to get out of jail, how many more days to vacation.

So why here do we count upwards? 1,2,3… instead of downwards 49,48,47,… till the receiving of the Torah.

Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, gives an answer. Let’s say a person was promised One Million Dollars in 100 days. He would count down the days. But if he was promised $10,000 dollars a day for 100 days – he would count up the days.

The days between Pesach and Shavuot are 49. To acquire Torah – it requires 48 things. These are listed in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers – Chapter 6 Mishna 5. Every day we are supposed to work on a different aspect of growth to acquire the Torah – totalling 48 days and the last day we are to work on all of them. Thus we count upwards – because every day between them is a day of growth – a day to be thankful.

Yaakov Avinu / Jacob Our Forefather – wanted to marry Rachel. Lavan – Rachel’s Father – said if Yaakov would work for him for 7 years he would give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Yaakov. The Torah says something puzzling – for Yaakov the 7 years seemed like several days. I would think the opposite – when a person wants to marry – they feel as it is such a long time.

The Answer – Yaakov was preparing himself for marriage every day to be able to be the founder of the Jewish nation. Every day was a day of growth for him. Every day he would become better by learning Torah and working to improve his character traits. Thus for him it seemed like several days.

Three Point to learn

  1. One has to prepare themselves to get married by working on improving their Middot / character traits. Some people go into marriage thinking – OK now I have someone to serve my needs. But really that is the weak link in the marriage chain – because once one of the spouses does not behave according to their expectations – the chain breaks. If one entered into marriage thinking this is my opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits – the chain would not break – because the challenges (like the wife yelling at the husband, the man leaving his clothes around the house, etc.) are seen as opportunities for growth to become a better person.
  2. One should go into marriage understanding that this is an opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits.
  3. Every day is an opportunity to Grow – Self improvement is an integral part of acquiring Torah. To become a Dr., a Scientist, a Professor – one does not necessarily need to have good character traits. To become a Torah scholar or to acquire Torah one does.

Young Man Saves the Wedding Day – a Formula for a Successful Marriage

Recently, a family held a party for the 60th wedding anniversary of their grandparents. It was a happy marriage – one that was peaceful, filled with blessing, joy and many children, grand children and great-grandchildren.

One of the descendants asked the grandfather – “how is it that you managed to live such a peaceful life together.” He replied “Many years ago a person was about to get married. It was the wedding day and the hatan / groom got cold feet. He told the Mesader Kiddushin / Marriage Rabbi that he wished to drop out.

The Rabbi – Rabbi Haim Zonnenfeld – realized that it would be a terrible embarrassment for the bride to not get married on that day. As he didn’t want the young woman to be embarrassed – he spoke to a group of young Yeshiva Bachurim / Yeshiva Students – explaining the situation. He promised that anyone who would volunteer to marry this woman on that day would be blessed with a beautiful marital life with children and grandchildren. One by one – each Yeshiva Bachur declined the offer. The last Bachur – recognizing the pain that the bride would have if the wedding was cancelled – took up the offer. He decided he would marry her.

The rabbi told the young man to call his parents to tell them to come to attend the wedding. They came. The couple got married. “You know who was the young bachur? it was me” he said.

We could say that the blessing was solely the reason for the great marriage. But apparently – a couple in which each partner is concerned about the honor of the mate over their own personal concerns – is also a reason and a formula for such a successful marriage.

The House of Peace – the Mishkan – Lessons for Peace at Home

In Torah Reading / Parasha Ki Tisa – Hash-m commands Moshe / Moses to build a Mishkan / Tabernacle for Hash-m’s Presence to dwell.

Hash-m tells Moshe to collect half a Shekel coin for each person of Bnai Yisrael / the Children of Israel to make a census. The weigh of a Shekel the coin is 20 Geras. So Half a Shekel Coin is 10 Geras. The Half shekel coin amounted to 10 Geras – was an allusion that the Jews sined against all the 10 commandments – by worshiping the idol of the golden calf. A person should learn to correct themselves from just a light allusion.

When we build a house for ourselves -we use good quality materials. When Hash-m commands us to build a House every single part is infused with Holiness and meaning.

The Half-Shekel coins were used to make the silver sockets – in which the columns of the Mishkan stood upon. All the coins were melted to form a whole. One message is that a family should have the goal of doing what’s good for the family – putting their self interests aside when necessary.

The Builder was Bezalel ben Uri Ben Hur. Hur tried to stop the Jew from building the golden calf. Instead of listening – they killed him. Bezalel could have said – I am not going to build this mishkan for Israel to build receive an atonement – they killed my grandfather. He did not bear a grudge. Do we absolve, let go and forgive or do we keep hatred in the recesses of our hearts?

To enter certain parts of the Mishkan a person had to be purified with the Ashes of the Red Heifer / Para Aduma. A person was who sprinkled upon became Pure – while the sprinkler – became impure. A person who wants peace must be willing to back down to make bring others up.

The Parasha starts will Ki Tisa – When you count. Literally it means – when you uplift. To have peace one should try to start with words that uplift. Your goal should be to uplift the other – not to bring them down.

Peace at Home – Does Nagging Achieve Anything? A More Effective Solution.

Rabbi Mica’el Shushan, הרב מיכאל שושן – has a series on shalom bayit / peace at home. [In program 52] He quotes the pasuk – “The end of his act – is in his thought in the beginning” – The verse – means that what Hashem intended from the beginning happened at the end. He gave another interpretation – the end of your act you should consider from the beginning.

He gave an example: Let’s say a man comes home and takes off his shoes. He sits down to eat. His wife comes in “What are you doing?! You know how much I hate when you don’t put away your shoes?! You can’t make a small act to put them away?!” She thinks he’s going to change with her tirade. Really he is not. What will happen?

Excuse the comparison – but a scientist did an experiment. Every time he would feed a dog – he would ring a bell before. After some time – when he would just ring the bell – the dog would start salivating. It became a physical reaction.

When one spouse or parent starts nagging. The person on the receiving end will start associating the nagging voice with negativity and thus have a physical reaction to ignore the the nagger. The voice of that person will trigger ignoring – even when they speak positively.

The talking person should consider what message the sound of their voice provokes. They should consider what works with the other person and do what works.

Saving Lives from Euthanasia – Mercy Killing

It’s an oxymoron – mercy killing. If there is mercy – how can there be killing and if there is killing how can there be mercy. When a life & death question occurs – Torah Jews don’t rely on their own opinion. They consult a Torah versed Orthodox competent rabbi. They present the case – and he will provide the ethical answer according to the will of G-d. G-d gave us the Torah. In the Torah – it contains the reasoning to answer any ethical question.

Recently – a question of euthanasia arose – Could one disconnect a person from life support? I asked a competent rabbi. He said no – it is killing.

Once a person is on life support – usually one cannot disconnect them – if it is going to surely result in their death. Obviously each case is different and each must be asked to a competent Orthodox rabbi.

In dealing with such a situation – I learned of an organization that answers such end of life questions according to Torah Halacha / Jewish law. It is called Chaim Aruchim / Long Life.

They not only will provide answers but also intervene on the family’s behalf with the hospital to assure that the halacha is fulfilled.

Hospital’s “ethics” do not necessarily correspond with Torah law. Doctor’s mix their feelings and opinions into treating the patient. Once a Doctor was treating the husband of someone I know. He expressed how much time he expected the patient to live. She responded “You treat the patient. G-d will decide how long he will live.”

There are three things that must be provided by the hospital to the patient:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Oxygen
  3. Hydration

If they withdraw or refuse one of the above – it may be considered killing.

Things to avoid – Apnea test. It is a test to see if the patient’s brain is working. It is not necessarily accurate. In Torah law a person is alive as long as the heart is beating.

If one does pull the plug of a live person or gives the authorization against the disapproval of the halachic authorities – it may be considered killing according to Torah law.

Once a person was on life support. A doctor came by and felt badly for him. He unplugged him. The patient died. The man he killed came back to him in a dream and said “Why did you kill me? I had some more time to survive in this condition and my sins would have been atoned for on earth. Now he would suffer because he didn’t have that reparation in this world due to the Doctor’s precipitation of his death. Shaken, the Doctor did Teshuva / repented and it served as a merit for the patient he killed.

Suffering is not the worst thing in life. There are worse things – like living with out purpose and without doing good. The Torah provides the means to find purpose and maximize your doing good for yourself and others.

Little Acts that Changed lives

A screen writer wrote an article. Once he was eating in a non-kosher restaurant on Shabbat. He was sitting with a friend. His friend remarked that a religious Jewish family was walking together from a Kollel / Torah Study Institute. They were dressed in beautiful clothing, walking and interacting naturally happy. The friend remarked “I feel sorry for those kids.” He replied “I am sure they feel much more sorry for you.” The sight and his own words stirred something in his heart. Little by little it influenced him to investigate Judaism and eventually he became an observant orthodox Jew.

That family had no idea that they influenced the man. But after they go to the next world they will be rewarded for having brought this man back to Teshuva / Repentance to Judaism.

This story is found a in a book called – “One Small Deed Can Change The World” by Nachman Seltzer. Rabbi Feifer of the Agudah Yisrael of Bayswater said a story.

Once an overprotected child was sent on a bus from Benei Berak to Jerusalem to deliver a package to his uncle. His uncle was to wait for him at the bus station in Jerusalem. The boy boarded the bus with the package in his suitcase.

He fell asleep. When he woke up – he found himself in Teveria. Scared, he disembarked and searched for a phone. A hippy kiosk owner was closing up shop. He let him phone his parents. The boy didn’t know where to spend the night. The kiosk owner told him to sleep by him. He did so. He remembered that he did not say Arvit / the night prayer. He was shaken by the entire experience. He prayed fervently Arvit. The next day he was woken by the man and took a morning bus to Jerusalem.

About 20 years later – he decided to search for the kiosk owner to pay him back for the money he gave him to take the bus to Jerusalem. He finally found him in a kiosk next to the bus station. He reminded him who he was. Exuberant, the man lifted the young father in the air. The kiosk owner took out a picture. He showed him the picture of his observant Jewish family. He told him – after he witnessed the boy praying Arvit – he realized a person can have a personal creation with the Creator / Hashem.

His fervent prayer influenced the kiosk owner to explore Judaism and motivated him to have a close connection with the creator and build a beautiful Jewish family. One Small Deed Can Change The World.