By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
We postpone once again our crash course on tefilah for another Elul discussion.
The Torah teaches us the importance of the shanah rishonah, the first year of marriage. It recommends, “Noki yihiyeh l’veiso shanah echas v’simach es ishto asher lakach – The husband should be free for his home for a year and gladden his wife who he took.” Both Rabbeinu Efraim and the Bal HaTurim point out that the last letters of the words noki yihiyeh l’veiso shanah, spells the ineffable Name of Hashem yud, kei (hei), vav, kei (hei). Rabbeinu Efraim explains that since this is in juxtaposition to the word v’simach, to enjoy, it teaches us, “Ein haShechina shora ela mitoch simcha – The Divine Presence only rests upon one who is happy.”
In my recent Q&A for Irgun Shiurei Torah, I was asked, “If the Divine Presence only devolves upon a person when he is in a state of joy, how did Yermiyah the prophet prophesize Eichah, Lamentations, when he was in a state of deep mourning. I answered that the default position of a Jew is one of joy, as it says, “Ivdu es Hashem b’simcha – Serve Hashem with joy,” and therefore that is normally when the Divine Presence will be found. But, at the time of the destruction of the Temple, the proper mood was one of mourning and therefore it was suitable for prophecy.
The Bal HaTurim explains the proximity of Hashem’s Ineffable Name to v’simach es ishto, rejoicing in one’s wife, is to convey the important lesson that even behind closed doors, Hashem’s Eyes are upon the couple watching how they behave with one another. By a chuppah, at the end of the marriage ceremony, the chossan, the groom, breaks a glass. The well-known reason is to remember the destruction of the Temple and to recall that even at the height of our joy we are thinking about our missing Temple. But, the Rabbeinu Bachya gives another reason. He says that it is to recall the breaking of the luchos, the first tablets. Why do we remember this at a marriage ceremony? Our Rabbis explain that it is to convey the important message that the first tablets that were given in front of millions of people ended up in smithereens. But, the second tablets that were given very privately to Moshe Rabbeinu endure forever. So too, we are teaching our new chossan and kallah that it is what they do behind closed doors, in the privacy of their chambers, is what makes the marriage strong and enduring.
I would like to add that the Ineffable Name is next to the v’simach es ishto because when a man gladdens his wife in the way that only a husband can, that is what brings the Shechina down to the couple. When it says, “Ish v’isha shalom beineihem, Shechina shruyah beineihem – Husband and wife, when there is peace between them, the Divine Presence devolves upon them,” this manifests itself especially during marital intimacy. It is then that the letter yud in ish (the husband) merges with the letter hei in isha (the wife) and synthesizes to become Yud-Hei, Kah (the Name of Hashem).
In the merit of our always bettering this vital area, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
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