Daf Yomi Chagigah 21
Tying the knot just ain’t what it used to be. There was a time when marriage meant forever. Sadly, not anymore. More and more people are just not making it in marriage. What good is a knot if it can be untied? Is there any way that we can strengthen the knot?
The Mishnah describes the extra stringency applied to immersion of vessels to eat sacrificial food over that required to eat tithed food:
Sacrificial utensils are more stringent than tithing utensils, in that (a) For tithing utensils, one may immerse one utensil inside another utensil, but not so for sacrificial utensils; and (b) For a sacrificial utensil containing a knot, one must first untie the knot and dry it and then immerse the item and retie it, whereas for tithing utensils, one may immerse the item tied up.
The Gemara explains: Both the first and second cases are dealing with the problem of interposition (that the water will not touch the entire item). Why do we need both cases? Had the Mishnah only taught the first case, I might have assumed that the reason one may not immerse sacrificial items one utensil inside another is due to the weight of the utensils pressing against one another. However, in the case of the knot, where it is merely thread, there would be no problem and it would be permissible to immerse.
And had the Mishnah only taught the second case, I might have assumed that the concern with the knot is that it becomes tight in water, swelling up to impede the flow of the immersion. However, in the case of the utensils, the water would cause them to float upon each other and pass through and therefore permissible to immerse together. Thus, the Mishnah had to teach us both cases.
Have you ever tried untying a knot that is soaked in water? It’s almost impossible! And that’s the secret to strengthening the bonds of marriage. It’s not enough just to tie the knot. You also need to saturate it with water. But what is the water of marriage?
Marriage in Judaism is called kiddushin – holiness. And water in the Bible is a metaphor for Torah, as the prophet Isaiah famously declared, “Yo, all who are thirsty, come to the water.” When you saturate your holy union with Torah values, Torah study and the ways of Torah, the bonds become tighter and tighter. It’s no longer about ‘me’ and my needs. It’s about growing together in a spiritual union to seek the Divine as one united soul.
You’ve tied the knot. Now go and saturate it with ‘water’ so that nothing in the world could ever undo that knot!