By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Kesubos 8 – Love Conquers All
Why is it that the bracha of sameiach t’samach ends with “mesameiach chassan v’kallah” whereas the bracha of asher barah ends with “mesameiach chassan im ha’kallah“? Rashi explains the difference between these two brachos. The bracha of asher barah is a bracha of praise that Hashem created the institution of marriage such that it is accompanied by tremendous simcha. Hence the emphasis on chassan im ha’kallah, meaning that the coming together of husband and wife is a matter of great joy; we say this bracha to praise Hashem that He made it this way. Sameiach t’samach, on the other hand is a teffilah that the chassan and kallah should both be blessed with joyful success. That’s why it says mesameiach chassan v’kallah, because it is a bracha that they should both have everything they need and tremendous good throughout their lives.
Interestingly enough, it is specifically in this bracha of sameiach t’samach that the chassan and kallah are referred to as reim ha’ahuvim. Rashi explains the chassan and kallah are called this because they are friends who love each other. The Ruach Chaim provides a fascinating insight on this unique title. He references the pasuk in Mishlei (25:17) that says, “Hokar raglecha mi’beis reiecha pen yisbaacha u’sneiecha, Make your foot a rarity in your friend’s home lest he come to be satiated of you and hate you.” In other words, familiarity breeds contempt. People can get sick of each other, even when they are friends. Shlomo Ha’Melech, in his great wisdom, is therefore advising us that when it comes to how often you visit your friends, the general rule is that less is more. If you go too often and spend too much time together, he may get sick of you and completely lose interest in the friendship; or worse.
However, expounds the Ruach Chaim, this is only referring to regular friends. When it comes to reim ahuvim, though, like husband and wife, it is just the opposite. The more time they spend with one another, the stronger their relationship becomes. The closer they grow to one another. The love between them only intensifies and becomes deeper.
I would like to suggest that it is for this reason that it is specifically in the bracha of sameiach t’samach that the chassan and kallah are called by this name, because this is the secret and key to their endless happiness and success.
Everyone, but everyone goes through difficult times in their lives. Some more, some less; but everyone has their difficulties. Some people have lives that are very difficult, and their difficulties and challenges seem to just never want to leave them. A lot of people can become chronically sad or even depressed from such a situation. But it is possible to every now and then come across people like this who are nevertheless genuinely happy and feel that their life is overall a great success. What’s their secret? I think their secret is a wonderful, satisfying marriage.
Because if you’ve got that, you’ve got everything.
When the love, support, and intimately mutual and indestructible trust between husband and wife is powerfully felt by both, there is nothing that can break them. There is nothing that they cannot weather together with the immense power of their burning love for one another. From the sheer force and intensity of that love, they forever feel deeply satisfied and happy with life, no matter what comes their way.
In this bracha that most strongly expresses our heartfelt hopes and prayers that the chassan and kallah should have lives filled with success, joy, and everything good, the secret to the attainment thereof is included in the language of the bracha; perhaps in order to instill into their consciousness this crucial reality of their relationship. Again and again, throughout the week of sheva brachos, the chassan and kallah hear themselves being called reim ha’ahuvim, beloved friends. The deeper that awareness seeps into their thoughts, that much closer are they to having their eternal happiness and joy.
“Ok, a lot of nice, fluffy words,” you may be thinking, “but, tachlis, exactly how do you expect me to discover this blissful utopia of reim ahuvim? It isn’t exactly knocking on my door!” Fair enough. Indeed, it isn’t really all that helpful to speak in grandiose, idyllic language – almost to the point of hyperbole – without bringing it down to earth and giving it concrete, practical expression.
So here’s what can be said about this. You don’t really have to do anything, per se, to create this state of reim ahuvim between you and your wife. It is clear from the nusach of the bracha that this is simply the reality of your existence as husband and wife. When Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu created the concept called husband and wife, He endowed it with this character. It is inherent.
What you do need to be careful about, though, is to not obfuscate this reality.
Friends are just that, they are friends. And, so, they act like friends. They schmooze with one another about all types of topics. They have fun together. They enjoy each other’s company. If they are close friends, sometimes they’ll even share secrets. And if they are the closest of friends, beloved friends, each one will even bring the other into his or her full confidence. They trust each other. Ask advice of one another. Share their thoughts, hopes, and dreams with one another.
You get the picture.
Now, imagine if, for some reason, these two incredibly close friends would start interacting like business associates instead of friends. Little by little, they speak more and more about strictly practical issues having to do with money, schedules, appointments, and so on. It gets to the point where this form of interaction occupies upwards of 98% of the time that they spend with one another. So, what do you think is going to happen to this friendship? It will become truncated, of course!
And it will begin to wither.
Make no mistake. Those intensely deep feelings of closeness and companionship are still there. Emotions like that just run too deep to break. But those feelings have gotten covered up by layer upon layer of staleness, pragmatism, and staidness as a result of the very unfulfilling pattern of behavior that they unwittingly assumed.
This can happen in marriage. If husband and wife are not careful, they can accidentally get into a rut wherein – on the practical, conscious level – their relationship consists of paying bills, keeping appointments, picking kids up from school, and so on. Well, that’s not the way friends interact, not even regular friends, let alone beloved friends!
Of course, there is no way that husband and wife can avoid having to deal with these very nitty gritty, pragmatic facets of family life. Nor is there any reason why they should. What they can do, though, to prevent the nitty gritty from metastasizing and taking over their whole relationship, is to ensure that they carve out a significant portion of time which is exclusively Daddy and Mommy time. Go for walks together. Go out to eat together. Play appropriate games together. Find times and places to schmooze pleasantly and deeply together. Share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams with one another. You get the picture. And make sure you are by yourselves. No children, and certainly no family or friends. Make this Daddy and Mommy time exclusive and a top priority. Certainly not less than once a week.
And really, truth be told, it is not Daddy and Mommy time at all, it is Husband and Wife time. Because during those times you are focusing on your relationship irrespective of every other facet of your lives, even your own children. To the extent that it may even be advisable to try to keep discussion revolving around the children to an absolute minimum, certainly if that discussion starts to become pragmatic and problem-solving oriented.
That being said, it would be awfully remiss to not point out that doing this is not only an investment for you and your wife, it is just as much an investment for the sake of your children. For if there can be one golden rule of raising good, healthy children, it would be maintaining good Shalom Bayis. There is nothing more crucial to your children’s success and positive development. Although that is not why you should be doing it, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be aware of that fact.
So, always remember, you and your wife are each other’s beloved friends, reim ahuvim. You deserve the indescribable happiness and joy that comes from allowing that deep, loving friendship to express itself. Make it a priority. You owe it to yourself and your wife to possess this secret key to your shared eternal joy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.