In honor of the 15th of Av, COLlive presents excerpts from the new book “Advice for Life: Marriage,” published by Lubavitch Archives.
The 60 color pages presents the Rebbe’s teaching and guidance on love, dating, the Jewish wedding and marriage. It combines stories, concise quotes and stunning photos by Menachem Serraf, giving a glimpse in how the Rebbe viewed these most important milestones in the life of Jewish woman and man.
The Joy of Marriage
In the summer of 1950, Rabbi Leibel Posner proposed to his future wife, Thirza, and she happily agreed. Standing under the Williamsburg Bridge, the newly engaged couple dropped a few cents into a payphone and called the Rebbe’s office to report the good news.
In the course of the conversation, the Rebbe asked Rabbi Posner, “When two people marry, what is the reason for the great joy that ensues?”
The logical explanation is that we need to inhabit the world and continue life. “If that is the case,” the Rebbe asked, “the day of the wedding should remind us of mortality. Why would it be such a joyous occasion?”
The Rebbe then explained: In heaven, each soul is divided into two. They are then sent to earth, with one half entering a boy and the other half entering a girl. These two halves are destined to marry each other. At the wedding, we rejoice that the divided soul has been reunited.
The potential of male and female relationships is like atomic energy. When used in a positive and holy way, there is nothing more powerful and precious. However, when used recklessly, without sacred context, it can be the most destructive force in existence.
Loving the Other
Just as you conceal your own faults, The same should be applied in a marriage. Place his or her faults to the side and admire their virtues. This is practical love.
Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff’s parents displayed tremendous sacrifice to maintain Jewish tradition despite Communist persecution. They raised their son to be a fierce and fearless Jew. Following his immigration to America, he became deeply involved in Jewish activities on campuses and small communities.
Once, during a private audience with the Rebbe, he handed the Rebbe a note with four questions about his activities, and a fifth personal question. As a young fellow, he didn’t understand that the final question, and any subsequent discussion, would have evoked his wife’s discomfort. The Rebbe was sensitive to this distinction and, after responding to the first four questions, ignored Rabbi Lazaroff’s fifth question. Rabbi Lazaroff wondered why the Rebbe did not respond to one of his questions, but did not probe further.
The following day, the Rebbe’s aide called the young rabbi to his office and said, “In regard to your fifth question, the Rebbe asked me to tell you his response…”
A short time later, when the young couple decided that they were ready to serve as Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, they scheduled another audience with the Rebbe. Rabbi Lazaroff penned a note to the Rebbe, and both signed the letter.
During the meeting, the Rebbe turned to Mrs. Lazaroff and asked, “I see your signature here, but do you know what you chose to sign off on?” She confirmed that she understood the contents of their letter. “Did you sign the letter happily,” the Rebbe asked, “or because you felt compelled?” Mrs. Lazaroff confirmed that she was willing and glad to selflessly serve any Jewish community.
Only after Mrs. Lazaroff confirmed her agreement did the Rebbe give his blessing and approval for them to pursue their life’s dream.
Marriage as Education
Marriage is not about transforming or educating your partner. It is unrealistic to enter a marriage with that intention. When a person feels compelled to change because of another person, day in and day out, this creates resentment.
Advice for Life: Marriage is available in your local bookstore or from
[email protected] Bulk orders are welcome.