The expression of zealousness for preserving Shalom Bayit (“peace of the home”) and the institution of marriage was displayed in dramatic fashion in the combination of last week’s Torah portion of Balak and this week’s Torah portion of Pinchas.
As background, at the end of Balak, following the advice of Balaam (according to commentator Rashi and in the Gemara Sanhedrin), harlotry was committed with the daughters of Moab, which reached a crescendo with the adulterous liaison between a Midianite princess Cozbi and a leader of the tribe of Shimon Zimiri. In response, while others were weeping and even Moses became immobilized, Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the Priest, became the “zealot” and audaciously took a spear and halted the liaison and executed Cozbi and Zimiri. In this week’s portion, we read how even Hashem applauded the action by granting his Covenant of peace to Pinchas and everlasting priesthood.
Pinchas and His Message
Pinchas through his zealous action was likewise following in the footsteps of his illustrious grandfather Aaron for whom I referenced in the prior blog “Remembering 3 Giants and The Pursuit of Peace.” As I wrote, “Aaron personified the ultimate Marriage counselor as he went to extraordinary lengths to restore shalom bayit even with the use of the technique of “white lies.”
The foundation that Aaron laid gave the impetus for Pinchas to act when he witnessed the illicit actions of Cozbi and Zimiri. And in so doing, Pinchas was demonstrating the importance of supporting the cause of marriage which has been threatened in recent years with rising number of divorces and a reduction in marriage rates.
Jewish Matchmaking and Jewish Marriage Education
I have along with so many others been mesmerized by the accolades for the Jewish Matchmaker Netflix series and its incredible star Aleeza Ben Shalom. As a dating coach and mentor for helping singles navigate the path for finding and keeping healthy marriages, Aleeza has and continues to make an enormous contribution and advertisement for the significance of Jewish marriages. Noteworthy also is that Aleeza has also been enormously generous in sharing her work and encouraging everyone to play a role in finding matches for Jewish marriages.
The Relay Marriage Education Handoff
The relationship between Jewish Matchmaking and Jewish Marriage education can be visualized in the sports world by way of the Olympic Track and Field Relay Races. In those races, the runners can be at their individual best, but if the handoffs of the baton are not smooth and the baton is dropped, the Olympic metal may be the casualty.
In a matter of speaking, Jewish marriage education represents a successful handoff of the baton in a natural transition of a couple from the shidduchim phase of becoming engaged through becoming a happily married married couple. The trouble is that the baton or the education part often gets dropped and the couple is left to stumble into marriage totally unprepared for what awaits them on the other side of the chuppah.
Why is the Proper Handoff to Marriage Education so critical?
Jewish Marriage Education in simplified terms consists of a research based curriculum taught by trained facilitators generally in a group setting but also with online courses which teaches skills associated with healthy and happy marriages. It is NOT therapy and its goal is to enhance your already good relationship. A testimony to the significance of the education is best understood by the wife of a young newlywed couple who took a pre- marriage education course. This is what she wrote:
“Avrami and I got engaged in August 2020, and during that time a lot of emotions came up, between love and happiness to the fear of commitment. At first we celebrated with our family and friends and we just couldn’t stop smiling, but after a couple of days, the excitement died down and reality hit. We both looked at each other with the realization that we just committed to spend the rest of our lives together. That thought made me extremely happy but at the same time brought up a lot of anxiety. I was having thoughts like:
“Will we be able to communicate in a healthy way?” “What if we become bored of each other?” and many more questions like these. So after a couple of days of anxiety, we decided that we needed some guidance. So we did some research and stumbled upon the “E prep webinar.”
It gave us the tools and knowledge to have a more open, loving, and fun relationship.
- We learned how to communicate in a healthy and happy way where we each genuinely understood and listened to each other.
- We learned how to recognize when there’s an underlying issue and how to get to the bottom of it.
- We also had fun learning about date nights and how important it is for a relationship.
- And many more helpful and enjoyable tools.”
The Lesson from Pinchas
Our amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher has been at the forefront since 2011 advocating and producing marriage education materials. We have documented the necessity for marriage education in the Case for Marriage Education and particularly pre marriage education and taken our message to the Knesset.
However, there needs to be a recognition on the part of the entire Jewish community of the necessity for the education and action taken to see that there is a relay smooth handoff once the couple is engaged in particular and is setting up a foundation for a successful marriage.
The best starting point is for each parent of the engaged couple and chatan and kallah teacher and the mesader kedushim (officiating rabbi) and others with whom the couple interacts in a meaningful way to insist that the couple take a marriage preparation course prior to or during the first year of marriage. There are a number of such courses both in Hebrew and English and our non profit is compiling the list for public dissemination. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org for materials and resources related to marriage education
Pinchas earned the Covenant of Peace – because of his zealousness – We each have an obligation to promote “peace in the home” in our individual respective capacities for the sake of the couples and hopefully their children and for our future as a nation.