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Fundamental Connection

Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt

Marriage, in a sense, also produces. If we are blessed, it produces the next generation. The entity of marriage is itself a product. As I once heard from Rabbi Dovid Gottleib: The equation of marriage is “i plus i equals I” — the entity itself is more than the sum of the parts. If we are wise and dedicated, marriage can also produce a better version of each individual in the relationship.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It sounds so nice — that’s what we signed up for — and yet sometimes, when we go to a simchah or other public gathering and look at everyone’s smiling faces, it seems that everyone else is accomplishing these goals, while we’re wallowing in relationship challenges. Remember that it’s impossible to see the struggles that go on behind closed doors (which is good — it means that ours don’t show either!). Each marriage and situation has its unique difficulties, which cannot be discerned beneath an expertly made-up face and perfectly coiffed sheitel. What perspectives can help us deal with our struggles in this most important and private relationship? The metaphor of the tree and its comparison to a person, “ki ha’adam eitz hasadeh — for man is a tree of the field,” gives us a starting point. Tu B’Shevat, which the Gemara calls Rosh Hashanah la’ilan, the new year of the tree, is the time that the sap starts to rise in the trees of Israel. Visualize the sap rising through the trunk, fighting against gravity to nourish the entire tree. It’s a private battle, witnessed by no one. The results will show much later, in the quality of fruit that’s produced. It’s the effort to rise, or to raise ourselves, which brings results. We struggle against unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior that we or our spouses brought to the relationship. We have to fight against our knee-jerk reactions, against words that should never be said, so we don’t hurt the people we love. We combat the weaker parts of ourselves, whether it’s laziness, procrastination, or negativity as we work to keep it all together.


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