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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Blindly loving your spouse

Moed Katan 6

Dave and Margaret wanted a gett – a Jewish bill of divorce.
“Why do you want to get divorced?” I asked.  “Let’s talk about it.  Maybe we can save your marriage if we work at it together.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” replied Margaret.
Dave agreed. “We find each another so annoying that we just don’t want to stay married.”
“What do you mean by annoying?” I inquired.
“Well,” said Margaret, “he thinks I have a twitch when I speak and I get so embarrassed by some of the things he says when we’re around other people.”
“That’s kind of strange,” I said, “why didn’t you realize those things before you got married?”
“I guess you could say,” replied Dave, “that we were blinded by love.”

The Mishnah states: One may trap ‘ishus’ and mice in the orchard or grain-field in the usual manner during Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the festival) or shemitah (the sabbatical year).
Rashi explains that we may get rid of these vermin even when field work is forbidden, since they cause damage and loss to the field.

The Gemara asks: What is ishus?  Rabbi Judah responds: It is a creature that has no eyes.   
The Talmudic commentary Tosfos quotes the Jerusalem Talmud that an ‘ishus’ is a mole.

If an ‘ishus’ is a mole, why does the Gemara not just say so?  It would have been much simpler and more accurate than identifying it as a creature that has no eyes!

Ishus in Hebrew also means marriage and the Talmud here is teaching us a very important lesson about married life.   Ishus – marriage – must be a creature that has no eyes.   If you are constantly looking for faults in your spouse, you will have a terrible marriage indeed.

Strangely, many people go into marriage blind.  And only open their eyes once married.   That makes no sense.  When you date, you need to do so with eyes wide open and not be blinded by lust.   Because of course, you don’t love someone you’ve just met – any feelings for them are feelings of lust.  The wise approach to dating is to overcome your lust and open your eyes as wide as possible to everything the other person has to bring to the marriage, for better and for worse.

Once you are married, however, then ishus must take over.  At that point, you should be blinded by love and overlook any faults in your spouse.  We all have our shortcomings.  As I said to Dave and Margaret: If you were introduced to your spouse today, would you consider marrying them?  The only reason you have issues with them is that you know them too well and have chosen to look at their shortcomings instead of overlooking their shortcomings.

Nobody’s perfect.  You can live with your own imperfections.  Marriage is about learning to love and live with someone else with all their perfections and imperfections.  And the more you allow yourself to see their perfections shine forth the more the true bonds of love will grow in your marriage and you will become blinded to any shortcomings!

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