By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Yevamos 110 – The Basic Recipe for a Happy Marriage
When he did kiddushin, it was with a particular stipulation that she not have any blemishes or be “carrying” any nedarim. She in fact does have a significant blemish and/or is carrying a neder. So the kiddushin cannot take effect. What, though, if he subsequently consummates the marriage without any mention of that condition? According to Rav, the marriage is valid despite the fact that the initial stipulation was unfulfilled. Why? “Since he consummated the marriage, he completely waived the stipulation.”
We saw in previous sugyos, and Tosafos points it out here as well, that the reason for this is that a man is not willing to take a chance that his act of marital intimacy may later be deemed a licentious act of znus. Therefore, if he consummated the marriage it is assumed as given that he did so with no strings attached. Once he has fully taken her as his wife, all previous stipulations are null and void.
This statement, at least homiletically, brings to mind a concept that emerges from a Gemara that we saw on 63b. There the Gemara says that in Eretz Yisrael it was common practice to ask the chassan if his new wife fits into the מצא category or מוצא category. The former referring to a pasuk that says, “One who has found a wife has found goodness, and he will merit favor from Hashem,” while the latter refers to a pasuk that says, “And I find that which is more bitter than death, the woman…”
Quite a stark difference isn’t it? Basically, it would seem, they were asking the chassan if his wife is good, or more bitter than death. Sounds like an awfully strange thing to be asking a chassan right after he married his wife, doesn’t it?!
It’s hard to imagine that if the chassan was himself wondering what the answer to that question is, that it would be good for his shalom bayis! Let’s not forget that the Gemara in Kesuvos (17a) says that one should dance in front of the kallah and call her a נאה וחסודה even if she doesn’t really look so beautiful to most people. Clearly Chazal were very concerned that we should say things that will endear the kallah to her chassan. Kal v’chomer that it would be a serious avlah to say something to the chassan that may make him think poorly of his kallah!
So what could possibly be the pshat in the Gemara about asking the chassan if its מצא or מוצא?
Rabi Yaakov Mi’Lisa (“the Nesivos”), in his Emes L’Yaakov, explains that they were not asking the chassan to tell them what he thinks about his wife. Rather, they were indicating to him that there are two approaches a man can take towards his wife. One positive and one negative. As in every word of the Torah, nothing is stam. If the positive approach is dubbed מצא in the past tense, and the negative approach is dubbed מוצא in the present tense, there must be a reason for that.
מצא means he found. He was looking for a wife, and he found one. The search is over.
“Being in the parsha” can mean that a bachur can be almost drowning in an ocean of research, considerations, investigations, inquiries, deliberations, hesitations, clarifications, weighing relative options, and the list goes on and on (for some bachurim, quite literally!). Even those that were only ankle deep in it still had the same experience, at least qualitatively.
But, now, that parsha is over. Done. Finished. Never to be revisited ever again. He has found his girl. No ifs ands or buts about it. The search is over. For good! From this point on, none of all the intensive work that went into all the beirurim matters anymore. Not even one iota. Once he has found and married her this is his wife and that’s it. No second guessing, no niggling doubts, and no wondering if he really made the right decision or perhaps could have “done better”. This woman is the one that he found and that’s all there is too it. End of story. מצא, he found her; it’s done.
מוצא, on the other hand, means he is finding. It’s present tense. He is still in finding mode. Even after he said the harei at and put the ring on her finger, he hasn’t really moved on from being in the parsha. Although, technically, they are now married and his wife is most certainly a full-fledged eishes ish, he has not really exited the previous phase of his life to enter the new one. He is unable to fully make peace with his situation. Every time he notices some flaw, folly, or failing that bothers him, he cannot help but wonder if he made the right decision. In his mind he is still searching. He’s still “in the parsha”. Still checking to see if she really was the right one for him to pick.
All the stipulations that he had while he was looking for a good shidduch still sit at the forefront of his consciousness.
He is a מוצא, forever in that state of second guessing his choice. Of wondering if perhaps he could have done better with someone else. In his mind he is constantly assessing and reassessing her to see if she truly measures up to what she was made out to be when they did all the beirurim on her and when he dated her. And he is doomed to suffer a fate more bitter than death. Far more bitter than death.
Because the מוצא does not make peace with his situation, every little thing is going to drive him crazy.
In shidduchim, there is a certain fantasy-land outlook that on paper and on dates everything needs to be perfect. But real life is not like that. Far from it. Everyone, but everyone has their chesronos. This guy, fool that he is, refuses to enter reality. He is still stuck in the immature, romantic, fantasy world of “the parsha”. And it is going to make his life a gehinnom on earth.
His expectations will never be met.
Not only because they are not grounded in reality, but more so because of the attitude towards marriage that those expectations engender and express. “You need to deliver!” Isn’t that in a nutshell how it works in shidduchim? If you want us to consider you, you’d better be able to sell yourself as a top-notch product. And if you actually want us to choose you, then you’d better present yourself as something really special. You have to prove your worth. If you can do it well, then we may just choose you.
In marriage, though, that outlook is doomed to failure. A marriage just does not work that way, no matter how much a babyish mind may want it to. In a marriage you are there primarily to be a giver, not a taker; most certainly not a demander. Even if that taking and demanding is done only in the recesses of your own mind. You are there to work together with your spouse towards a common, shared goal and value; not to see if she can prove herself worthy of your having chosen her.
By the time the marriage is consummated, all prior stipulations need to become null and void; completely irrelevant. Now she is your wife and that’s all that matters.
The מצא guy understands that whatever led up to this point does not matter anymore. At all. Once I’ve signed on the dotted line, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work! Whatever was, was. This is my wife and that’s it. This is my life and this is my matzav and that’s it. No ifs ands or buts about it. The only thing which is up to me now is what I am going to do with my matzav. How I am going to take it, go with it, and the make the best of it.
He will succeed because he is committed. He doesn’t consider any other options because he understands that marriage is a bond of eternal commitment; therefore, he will find the way that will make what he has work. And work it will. Because one who has found a wife, has found ultimate goodness, and he will have tremendous siyata d’Shmaya – ויפק רצון מה’.
This, then, is the very first thing a man needs to know to have a successful marriage; it’s forever. Forever! Marriage is for keeps. Once you put that ring on her finger, she is bound to you and you are bound to her for all eternity. Make no mistake. This is not a mussar-vort. It is the most basic and fundamental recipe for a happy marriage, for your happiness in marriage.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at email@example.com.