Jewish Perspectives on Marriage

A Selection From My Favorite Jewish Sources
By Rabbi Mordechai Levin

Talmud, Gittin 57a
It was the custom that when a boy was born a cedar tree was planted and when a girl was born a pine tree. When they grew up and married, the wedding canopy was made of branches taken from both trees.

Talmud, Yevamot 62b
A man who does not have a wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness. In the West (Israel) they said: “Without Torah and without moral protection”. Rabba ben Ulla said: “And without peace.”

Talmud, Bava Mezia 59a
A man should always be careful not to wrong his wife, for since she cries easily, she is quickly hurt. A man must be careful about the respect with which he treats his wife, because blessings rest on his home only on account of her.

Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg. Responsa, Even Haezer
A Jew must honor his wife more than he honors himself. If one strikes his wife, he should be punished more severely than he would be for striking another person. For a man is enjoined to honor his wife, but is not enjoined to honor the other person.

Bereshit Rabbah 68:4
A Roman noblewoman asked Rabbi Yose ben Halafta, “In how many days did God create His world?” Rabbi Yose replied, “In six days.”
She asked, “And what has He been doing since?” Rabbi Yose replied, “God has been busy making matches: the daughter of So-and-so to So-and-so.”
The noblewoman said, “If that is all He does, I can do the same thing. How many menservants, how many maidservants do I have! In no time at all, I can match them up.”
Rabbi Yose said: “Matchmaking may be a trivial thing in your eyes; but for God, it is as awesome an act as splitting the Red Sea.”
Rabbi Yose ben Halafta left the noblewoman and went away. What did she do? She took a thousand menservants and a thousand maidservants, lined them up in row upon row facing one another, and said, “This man shall marry that woman, and this woman shall be married to that man,” and so she matched them all up in a single night.
In the morning, the ones thus matched came to the lady, one with his head bloodied, one with his eye knocked out, one with his shoulder dislocated, and another with his leg broken.
She asked, “What happened to you?” One replied, “I don’t want that woman,” and another replied, “I don’t want that man.”
The noblewoman promptly sent to have Rabbi Yose ben Halafta brought to her. She said to him, “Master, your Torah is completely right, excellent and worthy of praise. All you said is exactly so.”

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Rabbi Levin is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Munster, IN. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly. In 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City for his years of dedicated service to the Conservative movement and the Jewish community...Full bio