Producing future generations through marriage is one of the 613 commandments and a foundation of Judaism. It is interesting that in the entire Torah, G‑d's will and wisdom and our blueprint for serving Him, there is only one wedding described, which is found in this week's Torah portion. The following are some of the gems from participants in the Sheva Brachot celebrations during the week of the wedding of my son, Jacob, and his wife, Sarah.

The beginning of the portion discusses Jacob arriving and sleeping on Mt. Moriah. Rashi writes that prior to Jacob's arrival on Mt. Moriah, during the 14 years he studied Torah at the Shem and Ever Yeshiva, he did not sleep; he studied Torah constantly. Jacob understood that Torah study is an integral requirement for preparation for marriage. Similarly for us, not only is Torah study crucial before one's wedding, but certainly afterwards studying Torah has the power to keep the marriage on the proper track. (Rabbi S. Rosenberg, Rabbi Y. Wilshansky) Marriage is about transforming the mundane and making it holy…

The Torah portion describes how Jacob took rocks from Mt. Moriah to prepare for himself a place to sleep. The Hebrew expression used is "avney ha-makom" - "the rocks of the place". Rocks are perhaps the most physical matter of this physical world. Contrastingly, the word "makom" - "place" - is a reference to holiness; the word "makom" refers to a G‑dly creation. Also, the word makom's numerical value is 186, which is also the numerical value of each of the letters of G‑d's name Havayah, spelled Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei squared. This is a hint that marriage is about transforming the mundane and making it holy. When we use our physical and spiritual resources to build a true Jewish home, making it a dwelling place for G‑d, only then we are fulfilling our purpose. (Rabbi E. Reiss)

Jewish tradition states that our forefathers kept the entire Torah even before it was given at Mt. Sinai. The Torah says it is forbidden to marry two sisters. So how could Jacob marry Rachel after he had already married Leah? While our forefathers made every effort to keep the Torah commandments, they were not required to do so, and did so as a way of exemplary behavior way beyond what was required. On the other hand, they were required to observe the seven commandments required of all the descendents of Noah. Included in these seven is the prohibition to hurt another person's feelings. Therefore, Jacob forfeited a unique spiritual observance (of not marrying two sisters) because of the risk of hurting Rachel in some way. The lesson here is similar; loving your "neighbor" begins at home. (Rabbi D. Notik)

A person usually has an image of whom he wants to marry. Our forefather Jacob was no different. Rachel exactly fit the description. Yet G‑d is the one who makes the matches. Jacob also needed to marry Leah who was to be the mother of most of the tribes. Similarly in our lives, often after we marry, we find that we did not marry exactly who we wanted to marry, but rather who we needed to marry. Seeing the qualities of our spouses will often teach us a lot about ourselves, and not only what we need, but what we want also. (Rabbi E. Friedman)

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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