Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Adam and Chava – Beloved Companions Forever

In this week’s first Torah Reading of the Book Genesis/Bereishit (known as Parshah Bereishit), we are introduced to the first couple Adam and Chava (Eve). The Sixth of the Seven Sheva Brachot blessings traditionally recited at weddings, makes reference to this first couple when G-d is asked to “Grant abundant joy to these loving friends (the bride and groom) , as You bestowed gladness upon Your created being (Adam and Chava)  in the Garden of Eden of old.”  In his book Made in Heaven, author Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan describes this sixth blessing as a prayer that the bride and groom have the same joy that Adam and Chava (Eve) had in the Garden of Eden. [1]

The specific reference to the gladness of Adam and Chava, according to Rabbi Avraham J. Twerski, M.D., in his book The First Year of Marriage, is because they knew for certain that they were a single unit.[2] Referring to the bride and groom specifically, Rabbi Twerski says that “the understanding that their new relationship should forge a single unit is the key to their becoming “beloved.” Having role models in Adam and Chava certainly sets a standard for emulating. They are referred to as “beloved companions.”

The elements of what made Adam and Chava “beloved companions” is subject to great conjecture. Was it the paradise environment in which they were originally conceived? Was it the fact that they had an exclusive partnership with the Creator?  Or was it also the fact that they understood that “love at first sight” was not enough to sustain their marriage and buffer it against what turned out to be the challenges brought on by the snake’s enticement to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil and subsequent expulsion from the paradise of the Garden of Eden?  Certainly the first reaction of Adam to blame G-d and his wife as I discussed in a prior blog, Chava and Adam – the Ultimate Blame Game,  did not enhance love between the couple. This first couple had to learn to become partners.

In one of the Letters From The Lubavitcher Rebbe, cited in the book A Happy Home, the Rebbe combines the topics of the sheva brachot and marriage and partnership, by stating that “a marriage is not only the beginning of a partnership, but the beginning of a union, where both partners become one and are united for life in order to set up an everlasting edifice, as mentioned in the text of the wedding blessings.

At the heart of becoming “beloved companions” and partners, is to recognize that one has to make a commitment to the marriage and to weathering the storms and challenges which marriage entails.

In the Case for Marriage Education, in the section entitled “What Causes Divorce,”

Professor Howard Markman [3]documented the findings of studies that cited the Lack of Commitment as the number one reason for Divorce.

The question of how to sustain commitment goes back to the ingredient that Adam and Chava possessed in their becoming and remaining as a single unit – the quality of “beloved companions” as defined from the perspective of friendship. Friendship is not automatic – it requires “commitment” and dedication and most of all it is a skill that can be learned like other marriage related skills. The emphasis on developing and nurturing friendship is actually a module in our marriage education curriculum known as I-PREP, based on the world acclaimed PREP (Prevention Relationship Education Program) developed by Professor Howard Markman and his colleagues from the University of Denver’s Center for Marriage and Family Studies.

In the module, the point is made that too many couples let friendship slip away.

It is one of the first things to go wrong when a relationship breaks down, because it has to be safe to be good friends.

Relaxing, enjoyable friendship – type conversations are avoided as partners perceive talking as an opportunity for conflict.

Commonly expressed in frustration are such statements as: “You used to talk to me all the time about all sorts of things. What happened?”

In essence, with a friend, it is safe to talk and be open. Rejection is not likely.

The main rules for ensuring Friendship according to the PREP curriculum are as follows:

Make the time – put boundaries around all the other things you do in life, so as to carve out time for friendship

Talk as friends – including:

  • Not bringing up issues or
  • Trying to solve problems

Listen like friends – without defensiveness. This includes:

  • Avoid advice giving, unless asked. and,
  • Talk about the things friends talk about.

If Adam and Chava were transported into today’s hectic and social media crazy world, they would certainly have to face new realities to preserve their “single unit.”

However, there is little doubt that our first couple, Adam and Chava, would continue to represent “beloved companions,” and serve as the role models for the fulfillment of the sixth of the sheva brachot recited for blessing couples for generations to come.

 

[1] Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Made in Heaven, A Jewish Wedding Guide (New York/Jerusalem: Moznaim Publishing Corporation, 1983)193

[2] Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., The First Year of Marriage (Brooklyn: Shaar Press, 2004) 30-31

[3] Howard J. Markman, from presentation for the Knesset Seminar on Pre-Marriage Education, November 8, 2017.

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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