|Sunday, 21 January 2018||
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By Rabbi Refael & Rebbetzin Adina Ribacoff
The Talmud in Eruvin (100b) quotes Rabbi Yochanan who says that notwithstanding the Torah, we should have been able to learn certain good character traits from the animals. For instance, we can learn the desirable trait of modesty from a cat - they are discreet and do not relieve themselves in front of others; they also cover their excrement. Ants can teach us the commendable trait of honesty, as they will never steal another ant’s food. Next, we can learn to refrain from forbidden relations from the dove/pigeon – they mate for life with their sole partner. Finally, we can learn the proper approach to intimate relations from the rooster, who first appeases the chicken before mating.
Next, let us focus our attention to what we can learn from the dove. In general, animals do not have just one partner for their whole lives. Today, they mate with one, the next night with another, and so on. There is no real commitment to only one mate. The dove, however, is different. The dove has always symbolized peace, love, innocence, and fidelity. Why? Because when a dove pairs up with its mate, they stay “married” with that one partner – exclusively! They pair up for life and show a willingness to work hard together to build their nest and raise their young. (The same holds true of other birds – like the swan – and a few other animals).
What is the message in this for us humans? Marriage is a time for a couple to come together, love, bond and form a true commitment and attachment to each other. It demands hard work and the necessary tools to make it work. What is that tool? It's the physical bonding and relations between the husband and wife!
The Rabbis ask: Why was it necessary for Hashem to create “Man” as one creature representing both male and female – and then to separate them and eventually rejoin them again as husband and wife? Why not create them in the same manner as the animals – as individual male and female species?
The reason is, to create that yearning to search and find that other part of you. To find what is missing to complete and complement YOU. When a couple gets married, they should strive to achieve that bond that existed when Adam was created in The Garden of Eden. Then, they will be able to fulfill the verse that states: “He shall cling to his wife and become one flesh.”
The Rabbis teach that a man forms a special love, affinity, and attachment to the first woman that he “lives”. The same holds true for a woman. She creates a special covenant with the first man that she “lives” with.
That is the message of the dove. Once they mate – they are paired up forever! Although we humans have free choice, and this bonding can be misused – we must understand its importance in our marriage. It is a very important and beautiful aspect in marriage and it needs to be there - otherwise there can be serious issues. However, once we understand its significance, we should then have a different appreciation of the act. It is the relations between husband and wife – when done with lots of love, purity, and Holiness – that create the “glue” to bind the couple closer and deeper.
We must strive to achieve oneness with our spouse – and ONLY have eyes for each other! This bonding is that tool to help us achieve that.