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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Stay out of your kid's marriage

Daf Yomi Kesubos 57


Before Samson and Delilah, there was Samson and the woman from Timnah.  We don’t know much about her other than the fact that she too gave Samson a hard time until he finally gave in and shared his secret with her.  Only this time it wasn’t about his strength, it was about a riddle he concocted at his wedding feast.
‘Out of the eater came something to eat and out of the bold came something sweet.  Whoever shall decipher this riddle, I shall give him thirty garments,’ declared Samson, ‘but if you do not, you shall give me thirty garments!’

They racked their brains for the solution, but alas, to no avail.  They cornered Samson’s wife and demanded she discover the answer.  She duly went to her husband and begged him to reveal the solution.
‘Why would I tell you?  I didn’t even tell my parents!’ he says to her.  Eventually he tells her, but she nonetheless ends up running off to her father’s house.  And dad in turn gives her in marriage to another man.

The Mishnah states: We give twelve months to a maiden from when the husband asks for her hand in marriage to prepare herself for the wedding.
It was taught in a Beraisa: A minor, either she or her father, is able to delay the wedding.

Rabbi Zaira asks: It makes sense that she should be able to delay.   But her father?  If she is okay with proceeding, what difference does it make what her father says?
The Gemara answers:  Since he may reason to himself that now she has no idea what marriage is about.  Tomorrow she may defy her husband and leave and come back home and become my problem.

Rabbanit Batya eloquently points out that the story of Samson and the woman from Timnah is the Prophet’s warning against parental involvement in a marriage.  When you get married, it doesn’t matter how close you are with your parents, you need to know that your spouse comes first and that you never involve parents in conflicts between you and your spouse. 

Why would Samson tell his wife that he could not reveal the solution to the riddle to her since he had not revealed it to his parents?  Why would she run off to her father’s house after her fight with her husband?  Not only do newlyweds need to know not to involve their parents in their marital issues, parents also need to know not to get involved! 

When your child comes to you with a marital matter, send them back to their spouse to discuss.  And if that doesn’t work, tell them to seek therapy, but no matter what, the parent should not be a part of that.   Most of the time, please G-d, the couple will kiss and make up, but does the child then convey that part to their parent?  Or are they left with the ill-feeling aftertaste in their mouth concerning their child-in-law? 

This father in the Gemara is concerned that his daughter has no idea about marriage.  But honestly, how many people have a clue what marriage is about before their wedding day?  All the preparation in the world cannot ready you for the demands of a life lived for the other person.   Sadly, many come into marriage like this immature minor girl, thinking that marriage is about themselves and what they can get out of it.  And so when they realize the demands of marriage, they give up and come running home to daddy and mommy.  But of course, that’s not the solution.


Marriage means committing yourself completely to your spouse, without any third wheels, particularly parents.  May you merit growing in loving union with your spouse and never needing to seek counsel from anyone outside the marriage, especially your parents!    And as a parent, may you merit the fortitude to turn your child away when they come to you seeking advice about their marital issues, knowing that the solution lies with them and their spouse, not you.