Friday, February 01, 2008

The Far Side...

(this is going to have to be a quick one…genuinely busy today)
(fair warning: not so great as a standard d’var but it kills at an ufruf or sheva brachos)

…of many a young man’s consciousness would have to be the realm of marriage. It is an amorphous reality to which many of us strive and yet understand very little.
Let’s try and shed perhaps one ray of light onto the subject.

In just this week’s third pasuk we learn that in whatever marital status a slave enters his servitude such is the status that he must have when obtaining his freedom. If single at the outset he must once again be single; if married, then he is considered as still married.

The language used in the pasuk to refer to an un-married man is unusual and Rashi comes forward with an explanation:

… אִם-בְּגַפּוֹ יָבֹא, בְּגַפּוֹ יֵצֵא

"If he come [in] alone, he shall go alone..."

Rashi: If he comes [in] alone. Heb. בְּגַפּוֹ, meaning that he was not married, as the Targum renders: אִם בִּלְחוֹדוֹהִי. The expression בְּגַפּוֹ means “with his skirt,” [i.e., the skirt of his cloak, meaning] that he came only as he was, alone within his clothing, in the skirt of his garment.

To use more modern terminology, the word used to describe one who is still single is the same word that is translated as ‘his jacket’.

I once heard a very nice explanation for this: When a man is single the extent of his concern does not pass the fringes of his jacket. So long as he takes care of everything within those boundaries he is fine, he knows that all is well. Whatever happens to those things that cannot be wrapped up in his personal cloak does not, at the end of the day, need to be of concern to him.

Not so for one who has entered into a marriage. Now his concern must extend to the fringes of the jacket of another. He must be concerned for the wellbeing of one who exists outside of his own boundaries. However it goes even farther, to the extent that he must realize that it is not only about needing to worry about another’s ‘jacket’, but that his own is now wrapped up with that other’s. By extending his boundaries he will not only be sure to have concern for the other’s existence but as a byproduct will also improve his own.

He entered marriage as an ‘I’ and a ‘Me’, now he must transform those into a ‘We’ and an ‘Us’.

Yet, as the great Gary Larson reminds us, first he has to introduce himself...