By what criteria is an individual in society assessed? Of course, this vey much depends on the society itself. Well, nevertheless? In one place, beauty is most important, and in other places they look at intelligence and business acumen. Curiously enough, all of this is only of secondary importance in family relationships. An example of this is that in a lot of happy couples, in which the spouses do not fit together in the opinion of others. Attempts to bring up an open conversation with the question, “What did you find in her (him)?” are usually suppressed by the answer, “I feel good with her (him)!” Such an answer, as a rule, does not satisfy the asker, raising his suspicion about a lack of sincerity. But it becomes clear that the person really has nothing to add. The secret of his happiness lies outside of “objective values.” It is at the level of sensations, at the level of a combination of emotional waves. But a third party cannot always feel these things, even if he is in the same room.
One of the most popular kabbalistic models (see, for example, “Nefesh HaChaim”), concerning the human, distinguishes three levels:
– Sehel (Intelligence);
– Regesh (Feelings);
– Guf (Body).
So, in this chapter we'll be talking specifically about Regesh. If we try to give a enhanced interpretation for this word, I would formulate it this way: emotionally-energy state.
One of my female acquaintances once worked with girls who went on a shiduh (making an acquaintance with the purpose of marriage). In one or two meetings, sitting in cafe or strolling down the street, they have to decide whether this is the person with whom they want to unite their life with eternally. At my request, my acquaintance interviewed girls after such meetings. At first, she naturally asked, “Is he the one or not?” The first question was followed by the second, “Why?” They answered the first question immediately but thought over the second one. But most of all I was amazed at the answers to the second question The reasons, it seemed, were quite trivial. I'll cite a few examples. Thus, one girl replied, “He was looking away continuously.” Another said, “He always puts his hands in his pockets.” A third answered, “He was coughing too loudly.” Have these things really become decisive factors? No. Obviously, the answer to the first question arose from what the girls felt in the presence of a young man. She had not even raised the second question to herself, and it caught her by surprise. And therefore the answers were not very impressive. The conclusion is clear that when choosing a life partner feelings are more important than specific details.
The sages deduce from the Torah that there are logically three ways to enter into marriage: Kesef (literally: “silver,” i.e. any material gift of the bridegroom to the bride, a ring is mainly used), Shtar (literally: “document;” in ancient times it was Shtar Kiddushim, in which the man wrote: “Behold, thou devoted to me,” in today's practice it is Shtar Ktuba, i.e. a written financial agreements in case of a divorce) and Biya, intimacy (Babylonian Talmud, treatise “Kidushin”). I heard the following idea from Rabbi Yehudy Brandes. “Those things, by which the marriage is contracted, can be regarded as symbols of those things, on which it is hold.” It is obvious that Kesef is a symbol of family finances and Biya is a symbol of intimacy between spouses. What does Shtar symbolize, as it is involved only in case of divorce? There are people considering Shtar to be a symbol of status. “Married man” and “married woman” — bring status. The Talmud examines which way to marriage is the strongest, and comes to the conclusion that it is Biya. Let's think, what is the strongest one in the maintenance and preservation of marriage? Everyone knows that the value of intimacy in relationships between spouses is reduced with age. It is equally obvious that not all families have material wealth, and despite that they do not come apart. What does support them? Is it really just the fear of divorce? But the fear of divorce and the fear of being alone are negative feelings, and I cannot believe that somehow only negative things strengthen the family. There must be something positive! In my opinion, this is the feeling of unity between the spouses, the feeling of being near someone who is your own. This is what people try to feel during their first date, and with each year it becomes increasingly important.
Moving deeper into the subject of relations between a man and a woman, to me, seems impossible without a serious study of the wisdom of the sacred Jewish texts. Comprehending it is associated with the two most common difficulties for a secular reader.
1) the special terminology
2) unusual methods of text analysis
These difficulties can be overcome when the reader understands that the purpose of sacred texts is to make human life happy on Earth.