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Marriage in Judaism

Two startling trends have come to light in recent years. These developments threaten to undermine the traditional nuclear family that has compromised the bedrock of society for millennia. Over the past 20 years, the divorce rate among baby boomers has surged by more than 50 percent… At the same time, more adults are remaining single… About a third of adults ages 46 through 64 were divorced, separated or had never been married in 2010, compared with 13 percent in 1970… Sociologists expect those numbers to rise sharply in coming decades as younger people, who have far lower rates of marriage than their elders, move into middle age. [Moreover], a record-breaking 40% of babies born in 2007 had unmarried parents (that’s up 25% from 2002). (Based on Rachel L. Swarns, More Americans Rejecting Marriage in 50s and Beyond, from, March 1, 2012 and Lisa Selin Davis, “All but the Ring: Why Some Couples Don’t Wed Monday,” from, May 25, 2009)

From a Jewish perspective, these statistics are much more than an interesting sociological study; they portend catastrophe – for the hallmark of Jewish society is the strong family. The home and the family form the foundation of daily life within which Jewish values are integrated and transmitted. Much more than a legal construct or a convenient social arrangement, in Judaism, marriage is the very building block of personal development, society, and the entire Jewish people. The changing demographic landscape makes this Morasha series of classes on Dating, Love, Marriage and Taharat HaMishpacha all the more critical. However, there really is some good news on the horizon – people who embrace traditional Judaism’s time-proven model of dating and marriage, consistently develop highly successful relationships and families despite these larger trends. Whereas the idea of marriage in general may speak to fewer people these days, Judaism offers a compelling and invigorating model – one based on seeking and marrying one’s ezer k’negdo (soul mate). In this sense, Jewish marriage is unique; it
builds an eternal soul connection between two partners.

This series is comprised of four shiurim: Marriage, Love, Taharat HaMishpacha and Mikvah and finally Dating. While the way of the world is to first date, form a relationship, and then consider marriage, in this series we have reversed the order. From a Jewish perspective, dating and love can only be approached with the ultimate end in mind, that of finding one’s soul mate and building a lifetime of love together
through marriage. As such, we start this series with an exploration of the end goal, our soul mates. We will then discuss what love actually is and how it can only be truly realized within the context of marriage. The third class addresses how the framework of Taharat HaMishpacha (the laws of Family Purity) sets up a structure for soul mates to become “one” through the intimate aspects of marriage. Only when our essential goals are clear can we then address dating Jewish style – the exciting, discerning process of searching for one’s soul mate.

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