The Talmud teaches that a proper shidduch (match) is as difficult as the splitting of the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds). At first glance anyone who has ever searched for a match or tried to make one will nod in agreement with this statement. But if we take a closer look, the analogy doesn’t quite seem to make sense. The analogy implies that the miracle of the splitting of the sea was extraordinarily difficult. But is any miracle “difficult” for God? Is there a difference in difficulty for the Master of the World between splitting a sea or causing the sun to stand still or killing every Egyptian firstborn? Certainly not! What then is the meaning behind the “difficulty” of the sea splitting?
According to the Midrash, only after Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the prince of the tribe of Judah, displayed his complete belief in God by wading into the waters up to his neck did the waters actually part. The miracle of the splitting of the sea required that the Jewish people take a “leap of faith” into the raging waters. The actual sea splitting was the easy part. The difficulty was getting the people to suspend their rational thinking for a second and have faith, even facing destruction by the chariots of Pharaoh charging at them.
Going against what we view as rational and logical is the most difficult thing in the world. But that’s often, if not always, what one must do to marry. We strive so hard to gain a semblance of control over our lives. We go to the right schools and get the right training to get the right job in the right career, and work hard to earn enough so that we can live where and how we choose. We exercise, eat healthy, and take care of our minds and bodies so that we can have the chance of living a long and vibrant life.
When it comes to choosing a mate, we are asked to make the greatest decision of our live’s to share the rest of our life with someone we might know for only a few months or less. We are meant to make that decision on the basis of information we learn during a courtship period, with no guarantees of how that person will be in the future. Walking into a raging sea doesn’t sound so bad anymore!
I believe this fear of suspending the rational to leap into the unknown keeps many men and women single. It’s a valid fear, certainly nothing to scoff at. But here’s the thing: every married man and woman felt that fear to some degree before their marriage. It’s simply impossible to be 100% sure about your potential spouse before marriage, because you can’t know what will happen 5, 10, 20 years in the future.
What you can be sure of is whether he or she has the qualities that are required for a happy marriage. These include kindness, sensitivity, caring and faith. With these qualities you can navigate through unemployment, recession, stress, illness and all the other things that life can throw at a person.
When I married my wife I thought I knew everything about her. Then a lot of stuff happened. I moved to Tel Aviv and looked for a job for almost a year. Nine months after our marriage my mother passed away. Then we moved from Tel Aviv to NY to be near my dad. Then we had our first child. Then we moved apartments. Then we had our second child. Then we moved to our first house. And we’ve only been married for four years! After each of these life changing events I saw new strengths in my wife that I never could have known existed. Our love grew stronger and deeper with each challenge.
There is no way that I could have ever known how she would deal with death until it happened. There is no way I could have foreseen how she would be with two babies, severe lack of sleep, cramped NYC quarters and a dozen other stresses. Would she stand with me in times of trouble, lift me up when my spirits were low, sacrifice her time and energy for me and our children, and love me even when I deserved to be tarred and feathered? I’ve learned so much about her over the last few years, but there’s still so much more I’ll learn in the next fifty or sixty. Is the woman I married my soulmate, my true love? I really think so, but I won’t be 100% certain until we’re both sitting in our rocking chairs reminiscing about our long and happy life together.
The splitting of the sea was so difficult because it required the Jewish people to suspend the rational and take a huge leap of faith by stepping into the raging waters without knowing what would happen to them. Committing to a mate is probably the most difficult leaps of faith you’ll ever have to make. But the rewards of a lifelong bond with someone you love with whom you can share your greatest joys and fears, who will be there for you in the good times and the bad, who will allow you to fulfill your greatest potential, and with whom you can build a beautiful family are immeasurable.
Nachshon and the Jewish people had to make that incredibly difficult leap of faith by entering into the sea. When they did they merited to see the blessings of their decision. If you take that leap of faith into marriage, you will also be blessed with all of the rewards that come with it.
Do you have a friend who might be struggling with their own leap of faith? Consider sharing this article with them.
You can find more dating and relationship advice in my book, From I to I Do: How to Meet, Date and Marry Your Mr. Right?