Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

A Wedding Celebration and Marriage Lessons for Eternity

Mention the month of Kislev and for most of world Jewry the association is Chanukah. But Kislev also commemorates another major milestone dating back to November of 1928 –the wedding of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn (1901-1988). The milestone wedding which is celebrated annually by thousands of Chabad Lubavitch Chassidim around the globe took place on the Hebrew date of the 14th of Kislev (or this year December 12, 2019) in Warsaw, Poland. By firsthand accounts, it was an extraordinarily joyous event bringing together religious figures from all corners.

This short video shares the uniqueness of the occasion and the challenging conditions which made the event all the more a major cause for world Jewry to collectively celebrate.

What are the Legacies We Can Derive on this 91st Anniversary?

A Global Movement

One major legacy of this occaion I mentioned in a prior blog, El Al and the 90th Wedding Anniversary. On the 14th of Kislev of 1953, at a farbrengen marking his 25th wedding anniversary, the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l himself said to his Chassidim: “This is the day that bound me to you, and you to me.” This binding has spearheaded a movement of Chabad emissaries resulting in Chabad Houses established across the entire globe.

A Model of Love and Marriage for eternity

The marriage of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin not only represented the union of two distinctive Chabad families, but also allowed for a glimpse into what marriage should represent.

In a free translation of one of the Rebbe’s addresses in May, 1984, he shared his vision of a couple.

“Husband and wife constitute a single entity, sharing a single soul; it is only that G‑d desired that for a certain portion of its life on earth the soul should dwell in two separate bodies, and that each half should perform its mission in life separately, until such time that G‑d unites them in marriage.”

“This explains the tremendous joy that accompanies a marriage—joy which has no parallel in any other joyful occasion. Two half-souls, separated at birth and raised in different homes, different communities, perhaps even different countries, are being reunited by the power of ‘He who sits and matches couples.’ What greater joy can there be?”

The Most Important Thing for a Good Marriage

 

In a letter sent to a newlywed couple on January 11, 1978, the Rebbe also shared his vision of marriage:

“As you know, a Jewish marriage is called a Binyan adei-ad, “an everlasting edifice.” It means that the Jewish home and married life must be built and structured on the foundations of the Torah and Mitzvos, as emphasized by our Sages, whose saintliness was matched by their true wisdom.”

Qualities of Love

For the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin, their marriage was a reflection of the love that they embodied for each other. Author Mendel Kalmenson poignantly expressed the qualities underlying their relationship by discussing the deep and respect each shared for the other.

To understand this definition of love, we can look to the Rebbe and his wife, Chaya Mushka, known as the Rebbetzin, who personified these three essential ingredients: sharing, caring and respecting.”

The Inspiration for the Birth of Two Organizations

The marriage of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, as well as that of my own parents (whose 52 years of marriage was truly a match made in heaven) inspired the establishment not only of The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee (of Beit Shemesh) Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan (my mother z”l) , but also the Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher in memory of both of my parents, Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan and Esir ben Avraham Benyamin z”l.

Now in its tenth year, the Simcha Gemach has produced the Fifth Edition of a Wedding Guide which has helped hundreds of couples and their parents with organizing all the details of a wedding.

Importance of Pre-marriage and Marriage Education

The principal influence of these two marriages was the emphasis which each highlighted of the importance of pre- marriage education and marriage education to create a lasting and healthy and happy union such as these two couples exemplified. What the two couples did was set the foundation for my ten year commitment to the promotion of marriage education as an essential component for every marriage in Israel.

A Personal Letter to Every Chatan and Kallah

The letter that is included in the 5th edition of the Wedding Guide to a Chatan and Kallah is an appeal for recognizing the importance of marriage  education as a foundation for their own bayit and an essential component of their wedding preparations.

Dear Chatan and Kallah,

Mazel tov on your engagement!

I know that the period of engagement can be hectic and challenging, with hundreds of details to be taken care of in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Often the one area that gets neglected during this time is the relationship between you and your beloved. That is why this is the most crucial time to invest in your relationship, so that you can build a Bayit Ne’eman b’Yisrael – a strong and lasting marriage.

According to extensive research into what makes a happy marriage by international relationship experts Professor Howard Markman and Dr. Scott Stanley, there are 4 secrets for success:

  1. They share friendship and love in many ways.
  2. They treat each other with kindness and respect.
  3. Each partner plays his own part.
  4. They are committed to staying together, even when it gets tough.

Many couples just assume that they will know what to do once they get married, but  most of what goes wrong inside a marriage comes down to  never having learned the skills and principles associated with successful relationships.

How can you, as a couple or as individuals, learn these secret skills and principles that will make your marriage work? We recommend that you include taking a pre-marriage education course among the checklist items before your wedding. Spending just a few hours discussing how you want to live together after your chuppah should be the most important part of your wedding preparations.

Our courses are based on the concept that couples can learn skills to make their marriages work. You can learn the communication and conflict management skills that will strengthen your relationship and prevent negative behaviors that may cause problems and breakdown.

  • You will learn to talk to each other more effectively in a structured way, and to listen to each other better.
  • You will have a chance to: discover and discuss potential issues, protect your friendship, show respect for one another, and maintain your commitment for a lifetime!

The I-PREP curriculum that is offered by the B’Yachad B’Osher/Together in Happiness organization in Israel is based on the tried and tested Prevention Relationship Education Program (PREP).  Long-term studies show that couples that have participated in PREP courses are much less likely to get divorced and more likely to live happier lives. The PREP program is the most widely researched and empirically proven marriage education program in the world. You can find out more at www.together-in-happiness.com.

Your wedding will hopefully last for a magical few hours, but your marriage will hopefully be a life-long commitment – ad 120!

Couples who invest in their marriage by completing a pre-marriage education course have described it as the best wedding gift that they can give to each other.

I would be happy to speak to you about choosing an appropriate pre-marriage course and finding helpful reading material.

Mazel tov again!

Susan Barth

Founder of Amuta  B’Yachad B’Osher/Together in Happiness

www.together-in-happiness.com
marriageconf@gmail.com

Postscript

May we all be inspired by the legacy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rebbetzin and couples such as my beloved parents to make our own marriages the bastions of love and harmony and shalom and thereby ensuring our own legacies for our children and grandchildren. By doing so we will have ensured the survival of our people and hopefully bring the long awaited Moshiah to come now.

The wedding guide is available for 95 NIS by writing simchagemach@gmail.com.  

All proceeds go to benefit the needy and poor of Beit Shemesh.

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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