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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shir Hashirim/Song of Songs

Marriage is hard. You must communicate clearly and compromise daily. You need the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon to avoid arguments. Since I have neither, from time to time my wife and I quarrel. My challenge is finding the path back to marital harmony. Fortunately, readings and practices during this time of year blaze the trail:

I am my beloved’s, and his spirit is toward me. (Shir Hashirim/Song of Songs 7:11)

How to Repair a Damaged Relationship

This Sabbath coincides with the last two festival days of Pesach/Passover. The weekly parsha is a special one from Shemos.  We also read Shir Hashirim, the Song of Songs, composed by King Solomon.  This mashal or allegory is very difficult to understand.  On the one hand it appears to be passionate poetry between a man and a woman.  Yet in reality it is a “duet of love” between the Jewish people and G-d.

Cycles in a Relationship

Shir Hashirim begins with a beautiful young woman getting engaged to, then marrying a king. Shortly after her marriage she is unfaithful and the king banishes her. She enters a “living widowhood.” But the king loves her too deeply to abandon her, so he keeps watch over her and protects her. When she returns to him, resolving to be faithful evermore, he will take her back. Their love will be fully restored.

Allegorically, the bride is the Children of Israel who G-d betrothed when He took them out of Egypt.  They consecrated their relationship beneath the chuppah or wedding canopy of Mt. Sinai and received the Torah. But it was torn asunder by the unfaithfulness of the sin of the Golden Calf. Yet G-d forgave this sin and brought the people into the Land of Israel. They sinned again and were exiled.

Through it all G-d remains ever watchful over His people, protecting us. The Almighty waits for the day we fully repent and return to Him in love.

While most marital fights don’t involve infidelity, the cycle is recognizable. You commit, hurt your spouse, and struggle to find your way back. Then you do it again. To repair the relationship, you have to know what re-committing looks like.

Bonding with Your Spouse

The Rambam, the great 12th century Torah scholar states that Ahavas Hashem (love of G-d) is the highest form of relationship that we can have with our Creator. It is higher than Yiras Hashem (awe or fear of G-d). When we are in love we only think of our beloved. We should love the Almighty with such intensity.

In your marriage, there is no alternative to love for creating an enduring connection. Neither awe nor fear is a sound basis for a lasting relationship. After an argument, the goal is to return to the closeness you had with your spouse when you got engaged and married.

Recommitting to Your Marriage

Shir Hashirim shows you the ideal state. The practice of the counting of the Omer gives you the tools for getting there. Most marital disagreements stem from a lack of loving-kindness or a misapplication of justice. First determine the source of the discord. Then you can identify what’s needed for reconciliation.

Next, call up your humility so you can lead the way. No matter whether you feel you’re at fault, take the first step. Apologize for your share of what happened. Make it easy for your spouse to seek forgiveness. Use compassion to strive for harmony.

Once you have reconnected, begin deepening your bond. Remind your spouse about good times. Relive fond memories. Doing so will build endurance into your marriage.

It’s no coincidence that the middos (characteristics) necessary for repairing damage to your marriage are the ones practiced during the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuos. Each of the following weekly themes is paired with those of the other weeks. On the first day you work on the trait of pure chesed. On the second day work on gevurah-chesed, discipline in your loving-kindness, day three tiferes-chesed and so on each day and week.

Week 1 – Chesed – loving-kindness

Week 2 – Gevurah – justice and discipline

Week 3 – Tiferes – compassion and harmony

Week 4 – Netzach – endurance

Week 5 – Hod – humility

Week 6 – Yesod – bonding

Week 7 – Malchus – sovereignty and leadership

Practice these qualities and skills before you need them. (You can get my free 49 Days to Refine Your Character tool by signing up for my email list). Disagreements in your marriage are inevitable. Make sure you know the steps and have prepared to repair the damage.

What is your process for reconnecting with your spouse after a fight? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!