From Pesach to Shavuos – The Journey from Love to Relationship
“Falling in Love”
Without the mystery of attraction, you would never get married. Most likely, you would scrutinize the other person to no end. Unless you had no say in the matter of spouse selection or are extremely logical and emotionless, some form of attraction, not necessarily physical, must be present. We have to “fall in love” so that we can be blinded by all of the reasons we should not get married. (While some of these terms have been abused by society, I preferred to view them as a feeling of connection that draws us to another person or a “click.”) How else could you have the emunah (faith) to commit to spending the rest of your life with someone you barely know? I often find that one of the reasons some people have a hard time getting married is that they are too caught up with their wish list, that they are unable to experience another individual. While this is not a license to make a foolish decision and marry anyone you seem to get along with, you will usually not be drawn to just anyone once you get to know them a little bit. Remember that Hashem is m’zaveg zivugim. He is the one who brings the couple together, regardless of logic, because they have a purpose, to become more whole and complete people.
So, we get married and then, all of a sudden, things aren’t like they were when we first met. What did we get ourselves into? We would have been better off single! If we would have only married someone else! This is not the person we thought we were getting! Sound familiar? This is much like when we left Mitzrayim. Only days after experiencing miracles upon miracles, we start second guessing ourselves, expressing betrayal, and hoping for the good old days. The luster of the lightening quick (b’chipazon) period that led up to the wedding has worn off. The problem is that we forgot about why Hashem took us out in the first place.
On the Road Towards Relationship
When Hashem first appeared to Moshe and said that “when you take the people out of Mitzrayim, you will serve G-d on this mountain” (Shemos 3:13), Rashi explains that the purpose of the Exodus is to receive the Torah. It is more than just “Let My People Go,” it is to truly be in a committed relationship to Hashem. Similarly, in a marriage between husband and wife, our initial encounter, the yetzias Mitzrayim, worked in bringing us together, but as the Arizal explains, all of those spiritual illuminations on the night of the Exodus were immediately removed the next day. It is not until after the fifty-day process of Sefiras HaOmer that we re-receive those illuminations at an even higher level on Shavuos, zman matan Toraseinu.
Shavuos is dependent on Sefiras haOmer. The Torah only tells us the date of Shavuos in the context of Sefira (Vayikra 23:16, Devarim 16:9-10). In order to get back to the connection we experienced in the beginning of our relationship and give it permanence, we must work on our relationship. Marriage is the perfect opportunity for tikun hamidos. More than just a positive spin on dealing with conflict, it is l’chatchila the reason the two of you were brought together. The very challenges and frustrations you experience in your relationship are necessary to elicit growth. A sociable and outgoing wife wishes her homebody husband would liven up. The husband wishes his wife would give him some space. This situation will replay itself and tension will build until they can engage in a mature and conscious dialogue. After learning tools to relate and manage conflict and develop understanding and compassion, both parties are usually moved to grow towards each other. In doing so, they not only meet their spouse’s need; they become more complete and balanced people and more connected to their spouse. Through working on your relationship you will once again reach those feelings you first experienced for your spouse, yet now they will be real, stronger, and more permanent.
The Pesach-Sefiras HaOmer-Shavuos process is a helpful model for couples to understand how relationships work. Most of us get lost soon after marriage, nevuchim hem baaretz. Realizing that the initial excitement in marriage is transient and can return through hard work, helps ground couples as well as provide them hope. While the power struggle is inevitable in any relationship, a conscious marriage and real love is attainable.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is a licensed counselor and Certified IMAGO Relationship Therapist. He is an author and international lecturer on relationships. www.theRelationshipRabbi.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.