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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Marriage means giving it your all!

Daf Yomi Yevamos 110

Sarah has died and Abraham sets out to purchase a burial plot for his wife. He approaches the Hittites requesting the Cave of Machpelah belonging to Ephron. 
‘Let me give it to you as a gift,’ Ephron offers.
‘No, I wish to pay for it,’ says Abraham.
‘Then the price is four hundred shekels of silver,’ replies Ephron.
And instead of bargaining him down from his exorbitant amount, Abraham hands over the entire amount.

An incident took place in Neresh where a fellow betrothed a minor orphan girl.  He raised her and when he was ready to take her to the chuppah, another fellow snatched her and betrothed her.  Rabbi Bruno and Rabbi Hananel, the students of Rav, were there and they allowed her to return to the first man without a gett from the second.  Rabbi Ashi explained: He behaved inappropriately and therefore they exceeded their normative legal bounds with him by dissolving his act of betrothal.

Rashi clarifies: When a man betroths a woman, he does so with the permission of the Rabbis, as he declares, “Behold you are betrothed to me . . . according to the Law of Moses and Israel.”  Therefore, the Rabbis have the power to dissolve the marriage.  Rashi further explains that some misunderstand the Gemara as meaning that betrothal with money (or a ring) is only rabbinic in nature.  That is not the case; that law is an explicit Torah derivation, for it says, “When a man shall take a wife,” and it says that Abraham “took Ephron’s field.”  Just like the latter refers to a monetary payment, so too does the former. 

Why does the Torah connect Abraham’s purchase with the act of betrothal?  For just like Abraham was willing to pay whatever was asked, when you get married, you commit to giving it your all.  When you place the ring, you are committing to investing all your resources in your spouse.  Ephron could have said a million shekels and Abraham would have paid up, because when it comes to certain things in life, you cannot place a price on it.  And that’s the message the Torah wants to impress upon us when comparing Abraham’s purchase to the covenant of marriage.

Throughout our lives we are used to calculating and reckoning how much investment to make.  Whether it’s a job you’re considering or a course of study or a business transaction, it’s all about ‘How much should I put into this deal?  What can I expect to get out of it?’  Marriage is a completely different ballgame.   It’s not about what you can get out of it; it’s about giving it your all, just like Abraham.  When you place the ring, you promise to give it your all, no matter what is asked of you.

Marriage is a huge commitment.  It’s an important commitment.  But once you make the decision to marry, you have committed to investing all your resources – financial, emotional, psychological – to please your spouse.  May you have the strength and commitment to pay whatever it takes to bring joy and satisfaction to your spouse throughout your lives until 120!  

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