Recently, a friend asked for my notes from a d’var Torah I gave for a friend’s wedding last August. I thought I’d put it out here for you guys as well. Feel free to steal it for any wedding!
If you are attending a Jewish wedding, you were called to be witnesses to not the next rung in a relationship ladder as society as made many to believe, but rather to bear witness to sealing of a holy covenant between two people and the God of Israel. This covenant is, as Genesis 2 says, the reason a man ever leaves the home of his parents – to hold fast to his wife so the two may become “l’basar echad” – one flesh. The term “echad” is the same expression Moses uses to express to Israel the very nature of their God – a holy unity that binds the universe together: Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad. “Hear O Israel, HaShem is God. HaShem is One.”
In becoming “l’besar echad”, this brings about a unique responsibility as expressed the command of “ve-ahavta le’reaka kamoka” to love your neighbor as yourself. Within the unity of marriage, being “l’basar echad“, caring for the other is caring yourself. It is in your best interest to care about their wellbeing from the depths of your heart because they are, in a sense, you. You have been unified.
In the seven traditional wedding blessings, one of the blessings is that you may be blessed with the simcha, the perfect joy, of Adam and Chavah, Adam and Eve that they shared in Gan Eden. What is so perfect about this simcha, this kind of joy? It is because they, beyond a shadow of a doubt, knew that they were literally made for each other. This is the kind of simcha, the kind of perfect joy that everyone who loves you wants to bless your marriage with this day and every day of your marriage.
You know, oddly enough, though we think we’ve been taught these concepts from a Biblical perspective, there is Hebrew word for the Western concept of “love.” It’s not lovey dovey, mushy gushy puppy dog tails and butterfly kisses. It’s not fluffy. It’s work. The word for “love” in Hebrew is “ahavah.” Many translate this as love, but that’s not what it means. When you break it down, the root of the word “hav” simply means “give.” Ahavah is the expression “I will give.” Ahavah is the promise of action. It is the promise of giving.
By the same odd coin, there is no Hebrew for “marriage.” You won’t find a wedding ceremony spelled out in the Bible – it’s usually a man taking for himself a wife. The closest word we have is “nesuin” – but “nesuin” doesn’t mean marriage – rather it expresses the nature of it. The root of it is “nu-say” – “to carry”. The whole word is plural and means “carryings.”
To marry is to carry. To love is to give. May everyone shower a “nesuin“, a marriage, with their own “ahavah“, their own givings of love just as you two are giving yourself to one another as a source of blessing on the life of the other.