2 important concepts in Judaism about marriage

2 important concepts in Judaism about marriage

Two people getting together is a match made in heaven. All the religions have a description on what should marriage be and look like in their beliefs. The way to dress, the ceremony, the spouse, the partner, the ring, the process, the mistakes and almost everything that has to do with sharing your life with your couple.

In the Torah, there is not much information or guidance about the process of finding a spouse and spending the rest of your life together. If we want to see some teachings in Judaism about marriage we would have to refer to the Talmud which contains the information about civil and ceremonial laws and how they should take place.

Yosef Meystel took the time to take a look at some of these teaching and their interpretation in the current world we are living and found out that there are two teachings that are worth the analysis.

Soul mates or Basher

The concept of finding your perfect match, your soulmate, your other half, your prince charming or your princess is very old and applies to everybody in the world. For some strange reason people need to be with somebody else, they need company, they need soul mates. The Talmud says that Rav Yehuda said that 40 days before a male child is conceived, a voice from heaven will tell everybody who is going to be his wife by pointing out whose daughter he is going marry. If we take a close look at this concept it means it is a match made in heaven. This match is called “bashert,” which means fate or destiny.

Even though there are many concepts within the Talmud that contradict the concept of finding your “bashert” especially the ones referred to finding a spouse, Jews still refer to their partner or soul mate as their basher. On the other hand, Basher could also refer to any achievement such as finding that perfect job or finding the perfect house for you to live in.

Finally, when people find their Bashert it doesn’t mean that their life with their couple is going to be all peaches and cream. Keeping your Bashert will require a lot of dedication, effort, and energy. Sometimes people don’t understand if they have found their Bashert and think that maybe they are closing the door to their real Bashert when they are married and are miserable. Well, even when two people are meant to be together, they can ruin each other´s life and make their relationship something painful and not enjoyable, they can file for a divorce because Judaism allows divorce and a second marriage.

Acquiring a Spouse

Image courtesy of Jrwooley6 at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Jrwooley6 at Flickr.com

Mishnah Kiddushin 1:1 says that there are 3 ways to acquire your spouse: through money, a contract, and sexual intercourse. Of course in our world the concept of money is different and the other two conditions are satisfied without the use of the contract or ring.  When the teachings talk about the money they refer to the wedding ring and not purchasing the wife which is a misleading concept. The money that is involved in the wedding is nominal and a simple Perutah, a copper coin of the lowest denomination is enough to symbolically marry your wife. When the wife accepts the money she accepts the symbolic act that says that she accepts her husband and their relationship.

To follow the teaching of acquiring your wife through money, the ring must be owned by the groom and the wife should know the value of the ring so she cannot be deceived when they get married.

All of this is symbolic and it is a tradition in Judaism, but that’s not mean that women have to accept any husband just because it is a “match made in heaven”. The Talmud specifies that women can be acquired only with her consent, and not without it. (Kiddushin 2a-b).

The next way to get together with your wife is through a contract. The contract is called the  4 which comes from the root Kaf-Tav-Beit which means “writing.”  In the ketubah the obligations regarding husband and wife are clearly written, conditions of inheritance are explained, obligations regarding the support of children of the marriage are also explained and the support that should be given to the wife in case of divorce is there to  understand. When it comes to finding your spouse there are standard conditions according to the Talmud, but many other conditions can be added by mutual agreement.

There are many misconceptions about marriage in many of the modern world religions. If we take a close look we can find that the concepts can be applied to our reality and make them part of our lives without hurting anybody. It is about love and commitment.

Be sure to also check this post on Judaism teaching on renewal