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Man And Woman- The Differences

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 11/6/2019

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Man And Woman- The Differences

Why is the Bracha given to a Chosson and Kallah to build a בית נאמן בישראל? Why not a house of Chessed, Torah or the like?


A husband and wife[1] may have many differences.[2] These differences can complete them or be a cause of discord. Sameness is not oneness, uniformity is not united. Unity is complementariness.  Indeed, נשואין is from the word נשא- to lift, to elevate since the purpose of marriage is to raise us to the next level.נשואין  is also rooted in the term נשא- to bear, tolerate (as in נושא בעול עם חבירו[3]) since we must bear our spouse in the things we differ in. The phrase טובים השנים מן האחד; two are better than one,[4] can also be translated that at times two people getting along nicely is because one is tolerant[5] and forgiving.[6]


The Netziv explains נאמן means one who has the power to act but doesn’t as it says in regard to Moshe בכל ביתי נאמן הוא; in my entire house, he is the trusted one.[7] Moshe knew the name of Hashem (שם המפורש) that created the heavens and the earth, yet he didn’t abuse it. This can be compared to one who has the key to a safe containing 100,000$ and can open it but doesn’t. That is referred to as נאמן. The same applies to a husband and wife. They each know what makes their spouse tick. They have the key to destroy the life of their spouse. The Bracha to build a בית נאמן בישראל is that they shouldn’t. Marriage requires work.[8] Just as a building is not built in one day since it requires bricks, windows and the like, similarly marriage is not built in one day. This is why it is referred to as a בנין עדי עד; a building for eternity.


People may complain about the differences between them and their spouse. However, this is an essential component for marriage. For example, one may complain his wife spends too much money. This may actually be necessary since if one is frugal there may be no food in the house. However, if they are both heavy spenders there may be no money in the house.[9] This is just as a battery has a positive and a negative terminal. In this light we can comprehend עזר כנגדו; a helper corresponding to him- to be an עזר, it must be כנגדו.[10] We need to keep with the motto, “It’s not in the way, it is the way.” This is similar to a puzzle in that the piece that connects to its counterpart interlocks. Likewise, since our spouse is our other half, we need opposite traits for us to be the perfect match. Now we can appreciate why a Shidduch is מה' יצא הדבר.[11]


The characteristic of Avraham is חסד; kindness as it says חסד לאברהם.[12] His wife Sarah represents the opposite- דין; strict judgement, as she is the one who sent away Hagar and Yishmael.[13] These two traits do not have to be a cause of friction in marriage rather they can work harmoniously together as we say ומקבלין דין מן דין; to receive from one another.[14] Their son Yitzchak personifies the trait of דין whereas Rivka embodies חסד as we see the חסד she did with the camels.[15] We see this many times as we may wonder how did this couple get married: he is quiet while she is talkative, he is shy and she is outgoing, he is strict whereas she is easygoing, he is organized and structured but she is not.[16]

R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance. 

[1] The saying goes, “Marriage is an institution where a man loses his bachelor’s degree and a woman gets her masters.”

[2] See Rabbeinu Bechaye (Chayei Sarah 24:3) that one should marry his relatives just like we find by Avraham (24:4) and Amram (Shemos 2:1), since it increases peace.

[3] Avos 6:6

[4] Koheles 4:9

[5] Chazal say כל הגדול מחבירו...; whoever is greater than his friend also has a greater Yetzer Hara than him (Succa 52a). This can also be understood in the following way: if one is greater (כל הגדול) it is because of his friend (מחבירו), meaning since he works on his character traits in dealing with others’ different personalities. יצרו גדול הימנו- if one has a stronger Yezer Hara, it is because of himself (הימנו), meaning he needs to improve himself more.  

[6] “Before you find your other half, first find your first half.” Likewise, “Before you look for the right one, be the right one.”

[7] Netziv in Haamek Davar, Bamidbar 12:7. There is an expression, “Real power is when you have the ability to act but don’t.”

[8] The adage goes, “Men may be from mars and women from Venus but the goal is to make it work on earth.”

[9] Chasam Sofer, Chayei Sarah, s.v. לא נוכל

[10] Breishis 2:18 

[11] Breishis 24:50

[12] Micha 7:20

[13] Breishis 21:10

[14] In ובא לציון

[15] Breishis 24:20. The Rokeach comments that גמל; camel (Breishis 24) refers to גמילות חסדים.

[16] One reason it is called נשואין (from נשא; to lift) is because each spouse is supposed to elevate and uplift the other through complementing each other. 

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