PARSHAT NIZAVIM: THE SECRET OF LOVE IS COMMITMENT
By Sherrie B. Miller
“You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem…for you to pass into the covenant
(brit) of Hashem…and into His promise that Hashem seals with you today.” (Devarim
Bnei Yisrael are standing before a most significant cross road in their relationship
with G-d. They are preparing to enter the land and despite having already sealed
the deal at Har Sinai, Hashem feels the need to reiterate this momentous promise
of achieve an everlasting bond between Him and His people.
Why should this repetition be necessary and what is the value of “passing into the
The Ba’al HaTanya teaches that the “fireworks” and the “bells” of Matan Torah which
the first generations in the desert experienced, was short-lived and transient.
The ecstasy and high didn’t take long until it was substituted with a golden calf.
These feelings are not feelings of stability and permanence. These fleeting feelings
are characteristic of the romantic stage in the evolution of most male-female relationships.
As soon as reality set in, and Moshe was thought to have disappeared, the relationship
with Hashem was over. These early generations of Jews who were still plagued with
the slavery mentality would not be zocheh to enter the Promised Land.
A new breed of Jews was chosen to forge the way into the unknown without the supernatural
and extraordinary miracles that Hashem had been providing Bnei Yisrael until now.
The purpose of the current brit was not for the generations who stood at Har Sinai
basking in the sensory high of a magnificent sound and light show, but rather for
the future generations to remind and awaken them to commit and re-commit to this
awesome relationship and cling to Hashem no matter what storms and challenges they
Commitment is the source and secret of lasting, creative and dynamic love.
Commitment induces effort and giving my all in a relationship, which in turn creates
feelings of true love.
Thus the Pirkei Avot teach: “Appoint for yourself a Rav and “invest” in a friend.”
We love that which we are invested in, because a part of us has now been transferred
into the other. This thought is borne out by noticing the first mention of love
between a man and a woman in the Torah. It was regarding the marriage of Yitzchak
and Rivka. We read in Breishit 24:67:
“And Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother; he married Rebecca, she
became his wife, and he loved her; and thus was Isaac consoled after his mother.”
Yitzchak had a mission; Yitzchak was determined to carry on the legacy left by his
mother’s impact on our people. His search ended when he found that Rifka’s traits
of loving kindness and devotion to the Jewish people restored the miracles that
took place in Sarah’s tent. (the challot stayed fresh from erev Shabbat until the
next erev Shabbat, the candles burned the whole week and the Cloud of Glory was
above the Tent.)
Each letter, each word and order of words in the Torah teach profound lessons!
Yitzchak made a commitment of marriage to his wife and THEN he loved her. Being
married entails steadfastly re-creating the original wholeness of the soul, which
means acting as a unit, working towards a merging of selves.
Often in my counseling practice I hear the following: “she is lovely, bright, intelligent…but
too shy. Madison Avenue and the advertising hype tell us, that we can have it all,
whatever we want; if it’s not perfect, it’s not worth having. There will always
be a “new and improved” version on the shelf tomorrow.
When we realize that most relationships undergo transitions and stages that foster
growth and progress, we can take a fresh look at the person who has the core traits
that I am looking for, but is a bit shy. After the romantic period when some believe
that they are truly perfect for each other, there comes a period of awakening and
realization that we have differences and flaws which leads to a stage known as “power
Struggle breeds growth and deepening of the relationship.
No one is perfect, nor are they meant to be. We help each other be the best that
we can be, both individually and is a couple. Marrying someone who has traits that
evoke respect, admiration and the desire that future children will emulate this
person, are what solidifies and establishes a strong marriage.
Marriage is not a series of Shabbat lunches, where someone is judged based on how
gregarious and social they can be in a group. The current psychological trend would
have us believe, contrary to the Torah approach, that dating is about being struck
by the arrow of cupid and “falling” inexplicably “in love” and in passion.
If Harville Hendrix can assert that we must strive for a conscious marriage, why
then is it so far fetched to strive for a conscious dating experience? Conscious
means that I must be reasonably attracted physically and that I understand what
traits are at the foundation of an everlasting marriage, a binyan adei ad.
As with Yitzchak, this starts with commitment!
We are told that Avraham actually “passed through” the brit bein habitarim. We have
a sense here as well that Bnei Yisrael must move into action by “passing into the
covenant.” It takes more than hopes and dreams to accomplish ones vision and aspirations.
It is the commitment to the promise and the plan of action that brings the ultimate
success and satisfaction. It may require actually and physically drawing a line
and crossing it to signify the resolve to be committed to a decision.
Commitment to a relationship determines how we will devote our time, talent, attention
and resources. When the shared promise and commitment to marriage is top priority,
it will undoubtedly thrive.
Ahava in gematria is equal to “echad,” which equals 13. Two who become one reach
26 which is the name of Hashem, yud, kay, vav, kay! When we approach marriage with
this equation, joining forces with Hashem we will make the right choice (bechira)
in our investment in a marriage partner (chaver).
May enjoy the blessing of Malachi 2:14, that you enjoy “the companion (of our youth)
and the wife of your covenant.”
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawyouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.