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It’s “Simcha-Time”: Making it work

Ahh, the sweet smell of Spring. Sefirah is over, then comes Shavuous, and then – feeding off the popular Miller beer advertisement – it’s “Simcha-Time”! The excitement, the pervading happiness and, oh boy, let’s not forget, the smorgasboards! So what if this is the fifth wedding, in five nights, in the same hall – you still had a hard time finding a babysitter! But how can one even mention the thought of weddings and simchas without raising the ever-popular subject of dating stories. I’ve heard so many of them that I’m just about ready to catalog them! From the seemingly minor – the out-of-town guy who forgot his wallet and the toll-booth clerk at the bridge wouldn’t let him and his date go across! To the hilariously anxious – a guy on his way to propose was so nervous that he locked three sets of keys to his car, in the trunk! (Um, that was me – it’s a long story!) Or the poor guy who knocked on the wrong door to pick up his date and almost ended up getting engaged to the girl who lived there! (Me again! Hey, it wasn’t my fault – I got bad directions!) To the seriously extreme – a not-very bright fellow was pulled over for speeding as he was passing through a hick town with a suspended license. The guy spent the night in jail and the girl’s father had to bail him out! (No, not me – who do you think I am, already?) But let me ask you; have you ever heard of the “well” stories? You know, those wild shidduch stories about one young man rolling a huge stone off a well that normally required dozens of men so that his first cousin – who he had never met – could water her flock of sheep. Or the servant, who found a wife on behalf of his master’s son by making a stipulation with G-d! How about the story of how one man chased away a band of hooligans who were disturbing a few young girls drawing water, and ends up marrying the oldest! Okay, by now you realize I’m not talking about your yenta of a downstairs neighbor’s daughter’s shidduch, although I’m sure she invented quite an amazing tale to tell everyone. No, these are the fascinating and factual stories of events that occurred to our forefathers thousands of years ago – stories, I might add, from which we learn valuable lessons of life, ethics and mitzvos. Eliezer, the servant of Avrohom, taught us that there are serious implications to playing “I dare you” with Hashem. Many hidden and mystical teachings are learned from the story of Yaakov meeting Rochel at the well, including veiled references to the end of the Golus and Mashiach. These are not simply stories – these are lessons that are indoctrinated in the minds and hearts of jewish children from a very young age.

The question – and you know there always is one – is what is the correlation between the manner in which the shidduchim of our holy Fathers and Mothers were divinely orchestrated, and the background setting of the public well – seemingly, the latter-day version of the Marriot Marquis revolving lounge? (I may be out of touch but that was the “In” place in my days!) Why does the Torah make every effort to inform and include the well and the centuries-old art of drawing water, in many of our history’s holiest unions, from Yitzchok Avinu to Moshe Rabbeinu, and what significant insights may we learn from this?

To answer this question, we must preface our words with those of the Ramba”n, Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Nachman ZT”L. Regarding the episode in the Torah when Yitzchok Avinu’s servants dug wells, and they were hotly contested, with two out of the three being sealed up, explains the Ramba”n, these wells are a reference to the holy Beis Hamikdosh. The first was called “Esek” – meaning “contention”, and it was sealed, just as the first Beis Hamikdosh was fought over and ultimately destroyed. The second well was called “Sitnah” – literally, “quarrel” – and this one, too, was closed up. The second Beis Hamikdosh was the scene of many a quarrel and battle, and it, like it’s predecessor, was destroyed. The third well, however, was not fought over and it remained intact and in use, as it was called “Rechovos” – “expansion”. When Mashiach comes and the third and final Beis Mikdosh will be Heavenly inspired and divinely constructed, there will be no more arguments, wars or battles, but rather, the glory of Hashem will be projected throughout the world and the jewish people will expand their horizons forever.

The marriage of a man and a woman is, likewise, Heavenly inspired and divinely constructed. Anyone who’s ever taken the time to listen to a Sheva Berachos speech can easily relate the famous line about how Hashem incorporates His Holy name into a marriage, thus creating the word “Ish” for man and “Eishah” for woman, and how without the helping hand of Heaven it could, G-d forbid, turn to “Aish” – fire. Many such teachings of Chazal perpetuate this message and the ensuing holiness that is created by the formation of a loving, caring and G-d -fearing relationship between husband and wife is ultimately equated to the enormously infinte sanctity of the Beis Hamikdosh. Thus, the expression of “Mikdash Me’at” – a small-scale sanctuary, is deliberately applied to a religious union of man and woman. Be that as it may, a little extra push, perhaps some guidance from on high, obviously, couldn’t hurt anyone and any form of spiritual injection to keep a marriage fresh and holy is always welcome. And wouldn’t you know, Hashem is always willing and able to accomodate.

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Our holy forefathers knew the importance of ever-increasing spirituality in a marriage – their marriages included – and they felt that a lesson for all time should be learned. The setting of the well, which is compared to the Beis Hamikdosh, was not a coincidental meeting place where each tzaddik happened to have met his spouse, but rather the entire encounter was choreographed to include the well in the formation of their shidduch. Hashem wanted this “chance” encounter to take place at the site of the well. Thus, the overflowing holiness of the Beis Hamikdash, the awesome levels of spirituality, could be incorporated into their “mikdash me’at”, thereby fueling the flames of holiness, G-d-liness and a marriage that revolved around Torah and Mitzvos.

This influence of the well, and what it represents, is what we all must strive for in our marriages. No matter how great things are going, there is always room for a little extra spiritual encouragement, an attempt to raise the level of our Torah awareness, whether it’s between husband and wife, parents and children, or even a newly married couple who are looking to establish their own “Bayis Ne’eman B’yisroel”. For them, especially, an infusion of “well water” would no doubt anchor the tentativeness of the first few months and solidify any anxiousness with regard to Hashkafah, relationships and even Sholom Bayis. Hey, not one of the Avos encountered any sholom bayis problems – and they met at the well. (In-law problems they had, I can’t help you with that! Obviously, this went back for many millenium!)  Let me ask you, do you think that the writing of the book, “War and Peace” by Orson Wells, was a coincidence! I think not!

So the next time you think of dating stories, think of the well – no, not the guy who couldn’t think of anything better to say than, “Well, well, your father’s got a lot of money!” or something stupid to that effect! – and realize that although “you can bring the horse to the well but you can’t make it drink”, however, if you bring the well to the husband and wife, Hashem will see to it that they never go thirsty again!


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