Halacha for Thursday 16 Av 5780 August 6 2020

“One Who Finds a Wife Has Found Good”

The Gemara (Berachot 8a) states regarding the verse in Tehillim, “For this let every pious individual pray to you in a time when you may be found”: “Rabbi Chanina said: “In a time when you may be found” refers to one’s wife, as the verse in Mishlei states, ‘One who finds a wife has found good.’” The Gemara continues and states that in Israel, when a man would get married, they would ask him, “One who finds or I have found?” This means that they would ask him which verse applied to him, the verse “One who finds a wife has found good” or the verse “I have found the woman to be more bitter than death”? This means that people would ask a new groom whether the first verse was applicable in which case the match would be good and successful or if the second verse was applicable which would not bode well for the future of this match.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would quote the Sefer Iyeh Ha’Yam as saying that when a couple’s marriage is unsuccessful, there are commonly fights and arguments among the spouses at which point they decide to divorce. They then make peace and continue living together for a period of time until the next major argument arises at which point they fight again and once again make up. In this way, the wife is considered “lost” from her husband and it is for this reason that the verse states, “I have found the woman,” meaning that each time this happens, the husband must find his wife anew. However, if the woman is a good wife and compatible with her husband, finding such a wife can be classified by the verse, “One who finds,” meaning that it is sufficient for the husband to find such a wife only once and this will be good for him.

Maran zt”l would further explain these verses in the name of his friend Hagaon Harav Yehuda Tzadka zt”l (Rosh Yeshivat Porat Yosef) that the verse states “And I have found the woman to be more bitter than death” to hint that a woman also hopes for good and compatible husband and when the find is good from both sides and each spouse is happy with his/her find, the verse states, “One who finds a wife has found good.” This is why the verse uses the word finding twice in order to hint that both the husband and wife have found something good. Nevertheless, other times, the verse states, “I have found the woman” hinting to the fact that woman is in fact excellent and the husband has made a good find, however, the husband is a fool and the wife is dissatisfied causing the marriage to be as bitter as death, G-d-forbid.

Once, Maran zt”l spoke at an engagement celebration and said the following: In one of the blessings under the Chuppah, we recite, “You shall surely gladden these beloved friends just as you have gladdened your creations in Gan Eden.” What is the seeming connection between the gladness of Adam in Gan Eden and the joy of a bride and groom? Maran zt”l explained that Adam was extremely happy with his wife Chava because there were no other women in the world at that point and Adam was certain that Chava was the best thing for him. Similarly, a bride and groom must envision as if there are no other men or women in the world and that they are predestined for one another from the essence of their being and in this way, their marriage will be successful and joyful.

In a similar thought, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Yaakov Rubinstein zt”l (author of the Sefer She’erit Menachem and head of the rabbinical court of Paris approximately fifty years ago) told a group of Yeshiva students who came to visit him on Purim a nice explanation of the Gemara in the beginning of Masechet Kiddushin which states that the way of the world is that a man looks for a woman to marry because the woman is considered the man’s lost object and the owner of the lost object is the one who searches for the lost object. He explained that when one loses a monetary bill, when he finds the bill, he picks it up and continues on his way because he knows that this is the bill he has lost. However, if someone happens to be walking in the street and finds money, he does not merely pick it up and go; rather, he continues to look around that area to see if there are more bills that were lost or dropped so that he can pick them up. The same applies to marriage in that if one realizes that one’s wife is one’s “lost object,” he will happily take her home and this will be sufficient for him. However, if one does not believe in the words of our Sages, one thinks to himself that just as I have found this woman, there must be other woman who are compatible to me and maybe, my life might be better with a different woman. Thus, the verse states, “One who finds a wife has found good,” to teach us that when finds a wife once and is satisfied, he has certainly found good. However, if one is constantly searching more and more instead of being happy and investing in what one already has, the verse “And I have found the woman to be more bitter than death” will then apply. (Based on the words of Harav Shlomo Ben-Lulu Shlit”a)

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