By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, Bechukkosai, the pasuk tells us, “V’nasati Mishkani b’sochechem v’lo sigal nafshi eschem,” “And I will place my Sanctuary amongst you and I will not become disgusted with you” (Vayikra 26:11). It seems strange to say that Hashem won’t become disgusted with us right after He promises to be amongst us. This is especially so because the term used here, ‘sigal,’ is a very strong one, connoting total revulsion.
The Shemen Tov explains that the greatest hatred that can exist is that between a man and woman who were once married, who loved and cared for each other, and then got divorced. This is especially the case when the marriage went on happily for many years before it began to fall apart. What Hashem is telling us in this week’s parashah is that, unlike man, Hashem does not act this way and come to the point of utter revulsion. Hashem guarantees us that even if we were to sink so low and act in a way that Hashem would not be able to approve us, He will only be disgusted with our actions, but not with us as a people. (Rabbi Yissocher Frand)
Hashem will never come to a point of being revolted by Klal Yisrael. In fact, the Ibn Ezra says that Hashem will always keep His presence with us. Even as we are in exile due to our nation’s sins, Hashem stands by us and is, so to speak, in exile with us, never truly abandoning us even though we might seem undeserving. We know that Hashem accompanies us to every place where He is made welcome.
We see another interesting point from this pasuk. Many of us have unfortunately seen the bitter resentment and anger that remain in the place where a marriage once stood. Eretz Yisrael is a place of intense spirituality, and yet we see that some of the holiest sites are disgraced with less than appropriate behavior, immodest dress, frivolity, and even profanity. One must wonder: How is it that these most spiritual and holy places can seemingly draw such unholy behavior, even worse than other places of far less stature?
One of the tenets that Hashem established to rule over all creation is that of “zeh leumas zeh asah Elokim,” every thing is created with an equal pull or potential in two different directions. In a place where there is a strong potential for holiness, there will be an equally strong potential for impurity. Similarly, from the hatred that can exist after a marriage has dissolved, we see what kind of potential there was and is in every marriage, because where there is potential for such hate, there is equal potential for so much love and care.
Each one of us needs to contemplate, every day, the potential we have in all we do. Marriage is such a fundamental part of our lives, with so much potential for greatness. We need to keep this in mind always, no matter how bad things might be. Within very intense frustration and anger can lie the very secret of transformation and potential for even greater good.
From another perspective, we know that the yetzer ha’ra spends time only on those things that pose a worthwhile challenge and warrant an investment of energy. To find oneself with great challenges in any situation, and especially in marriage, is ultimately proof that within that very relationship exists something special and intensely great. To block that potential, the yetzer ha’ra fools us into feeling justified about anything negative we experience. This should help us become aware of just how much good awaits us when we tap into that well of shalom bayis and potential within our marriages and ourselves.
So the next time you walk into your home, contemplate that thought for a minute. We each need to try to access that potential and use it to our advantage. In doing this, we, along with the entire Jewish nation, should merit to have marriages that are full of peace and harmony. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail email@example.com.