In Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (a book of Midrash attributed to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus), it is stated: “Chatan domeh l’melech“, a groom is similar to a king.

While this statement is the source of many of the customs that are practiced by those attending to a bride and groom (as to how they are treated like royalty, particularly at the wedding, and during the week after the wedding), it is also a key idea in the Jewish attitude toward marriage.

Ideally, marriage is a union in which two people become one. This does not mean that either person is subsumed into the other, but that they together form one complete unit. And yet, at the same time, this often feels contrary to human nature. That is because marriage, like all things valuable, requires work–working together and working on improving one’s self.

One of the most important tools in this process is gaining the understanding that, according to Jewish tradition, one can only come to love another by giving to them. And it takes the right attitude to be able to give in a marriage (especially when things don’t always go the way one wants).

So one might ask: For how long after the wedding is a groom similar to a king? The answer, of course, depends upon how long the husband treats his wife like a queen! Jewish wisdom teaches that if a man treats his wife like a queen–puts her ahead of himself, seeks out ways to make her life easier, buys her little presents to show that he is thinking of her–then she will naturally desire to do the same for him. 

This Treat was last posted on February 13, 2009.

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