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Marriage and the Royal Family

By: Rabbi Yehudah Prero

The Machzor Vitri comments that there is custom unique to grooms. During the week following the wedding, the groom should not go to synagogue to pray. Rather, he should pray at home. The reason given for this custom is the groom will often have difficulty finding people to accompany him to and from the synagogue, and he should not go alone. Therefore, the groom should just pray at home.

Why is it necessary to provide a groom with accompaniment? Pirkei D'Rabi Elazar writes that "Chasan domeh l'melech," a groom is similar to a king. Just as a king does not go out alone, so too a groom should not go out alone. Just as we must accord respect to a king, and assure that he always travels with an entourage, so too must we do the same for a groom.

What is it exactly that causes a groom to attain a status of royalty? Why, just because a person gets married, it he accorded respect that is due to kings?

In Tehillim (Psalms), King David wrote (26:4) "One thing I asked of G-d, that I shall seek - that I dwell in the house of G-d all the days of my life. . . ." The Yalkut Shimoni explains the request of King David. The Yalkut writes that King David was asking for royalty. This explanation does not easily fit in with the context of the entire passage. King David asked to sit in the house of G-d all the days of his life. How is this asking for royalty? Is the royal palace the "house of G-d?" Furthermore, asking G-d for royalty is not in accordance with King David's personality and stature. First, he was a king. Second, King David was known for his desire to study Torah, even waking up late at night so he could study the holy words of Torah. Why, then, would he request royalty, which, if granted, would bring with it distraction from Torah study, and honor, wealth, and prestige, status symbols for which the Sages did not crave?

In the Talmud (Gittin 62a), we find the answer. Who are the true kings? The Talmud says that the Rabanan, those who study Torah, are called kings. Why? Because through the study of Torah, they merit the crown of Torah. King David was not asking for the royalty that comes through being a monarch of a country. He was asking G-d for the royalty that results through one becoming the emissary of G-d, which comes through immersion in Torah study. King David greatly wanted another royalty, the royalty that would afford him the opportunity to sit in the house of G-d all the days of his life. It is this royalty, as the Yalkut Shimoni writes, mentioned in King David's request in Tehillim.

The Talmud writes (Yevamos 62b) that any man who does not have a wife exists without happiness, blessing, and without Torah. It is possible to understand why a person might not be happy about being single, or might feel not blessed because he is not married. However, there are many people who clearly do learn Torah when they are single. How can we understand that a person is without Torah because he is single?

Rav Ovadya Yosef explains that there are different levels of Torah study. There is a principle that when a person could be engaged in Torah study, and that person instead pursues other matters, he is engaged in "Bittul Torah," "the wasting of Torah-study time." Rav Ovadya Yosef extends this principle. "Bittul Torah" also applies when a person is learning Torah, but could learn Torah with greater depth and/or intensity, and is not doing so. The Talmud (Shabbos 30b) writes that the Divine Presence does not rest upon man through gloom. Happiness is needed to have the Divine Presence rest upon man. If a person is not married, according to the Talmud, he is without happiness. If he is without happiness, he will not merit to have the Divine Presence rest upon him and bless his efforts. As the individual does not have the benefit of the Divine Presence resting upon him and blessing his efforts, the Torah study done by this individual is on a lower level than the study that could be accomplished by him if he had the assistance of the Divine Presence. Therefore, the individual who is not married and does not have happiness, does not have Torah, either.

When a man weds, he is blessed with a happiness that he has not experienced before. Because he has reached this level of happiness, the level of his Torah study reaches heights previously unattained. He is now in the realm of those who are dedicated to G-d's service and study of Torah. He has now, because of the joy of getting married, joined the ranks of royalty. Only now, because of his new status, can we call the groom a king - a member of G-d's extensive royal family. Because the groom experiences a new dimension of joy, and hence reaches a new plateau in his Torah study, he now becomes comparable to a king, and is therefore accorded the respect due to a king.

The caveat, the Pirkei D'Rabi Elazar points out, is that a groom is only comparable to a king. He is not a true king. While it is true that a groom, upon getting married, experiences a joy like one never before felt, after the seven days of feasting that follows the wedding, the joy can wane. The level of Torah study that almost automatically came to the groom upon his marriage can drop. How can the groom maintain his royal status? By keeping happy, by maintaining a pleasant atmosphere in the house. With happiness comes the company of the Divine Presence. G-d's presence will bless the new couple, and specifically the Torah study conducted in that household. If a new couple can keep the happiness they experience during the first week they are married with them always, their reign as queen and king will continue indefinitely.

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MAZEL TOV to Eli and Russy Newman, Yechiel and Dafna Weiner, and Elly and Adina Rosenbaum upon their recent marriages!

R' Yehudah Prero, prero@torah.org


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