Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Midrash as Marriage Guide

I commend JIW readers to take the time to read this beautiful essay by IDO HEVRONI, from Azure magazine, Summer 5767 / 2007, No. 29 in full. The essay interprets in detail two rabbinic stories about marriage. It is impossible to summarise, but I will simply quote one of the stories to give you a taste....

[In Babylon] it was taught: If a man has taken a wife and lived with her for ten years but she has not borne a child, he is nonetheless obligated [to “be fruitful and multiply,” and therefore to marry another woman].

R. Idi said: The story is told of a woman from Sidon who lived with her husband for ten years and did not have children. They came before R. Shimon ben Yohai and asked to be divorced from one another.

He said to them: Look here, as you married each other with food and drink, so too, may you separate only with food and drink. They went on his way, and made a holiday for themselves. They made a great feast, and she got him too drunk.

This brought him back to his senses, and he said to her: “My beloved, if you see anything (hefetz) that you want in my house, take it and go to your father’s.
What did she do? After he fell asleep, she called to her servants, saying, “Carry him, in his bed, to my father’s house.”

At midnight he awoke when the effects of the wine had worn off, and said to her, “My beloved, where am I?”

She said to him: “In my father’s house.”

He said to her: “What am I doing in your father’s house?”

She said to him: “Is that not what you said to me last evening, ‘anything you desire in my house, take it and go to your father’s house’? There is nothing I desire more in the world than you!”

They went before R. Shimon ben Yohai, and he stood and prayed over them, and they had children.

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