Friday, May 7, 2010

Review of Rabbi Akiva Tatz Talk at Next Dor

Last night, Rabbi Akiva Tatz, known for his talks, lectures and books covering a variety of Jewish subjects, spoke to 20 young adults about relationships and the idea of Jewish marriage

It is perhaps important to note the difference between the 'Jewish idea of marriage' as compared to 'the idea of Jewish marriage'. The subtle difference between the two is that the Jewish idea of marriage focuses on what a marriage provides, the relationship, the connection, etc., while the idea of a Jewish marriage focuses by definition on two Jews marrying for the purpose of creating a Jewish family. Follow me so far?

Rabbi Tatz began by laying out the non-negotiables for the basis of the marriage, that the relationship had to be between a man and a woman, that both partners must be Jewish (although a convert is 1000% Jewish, so long as they were converted in the Orthodox fashion).

He delved into some of the Kabbalistic understandings of marriage as the reunification of a single soul torn into two upon its journey from the spiritual to the physical world.

Rabbi Tatz went on to speak about attraction/chemistry as the most important factor, followed by the person's character, and along the way provided examples of marriages that had worked out, or hadn't depending on these various items.

Now it is important to note that Rabbi Tatz, although not born religious, is now quite religious, and is fairly black and white in regards to right and wrong ways to do things Jewishly. This made his comments all the most interesting when considering that his audience was composed of a mixed crowd of both fully secular and more religious Jews.

Rabbi Tatz did recognize that, while in religious communities, being set up with a wife without knowing her can work, that it is necessary to spend more time getting to know a potential partner in the secular world.

He raised a point almost totally foreign in the secular world. "How do you know when it is time to get engaged or call it off?" he asked. "When you know that one more date with the person will not reveal any new information." That is to say that once you know everything you need to know to make the decision, it is time to make it.

This runs fully counter to the flow of the secular world, in which people are often not considering marriage (particularly early on) during dating. For Rabbi Tatz and the Orthodox world, why date if you aren't moving specifically towards marriage?

The conversation was certainly an interesting one and brought up, in true Jewish fashion, more questions than answers. To learn more about Rabbi Akiva Tatz, please click here

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