Prologue: The boy wanted a home like his mother’s.
Rashi tells us that when Yitzchak brought Rivka into his mother’s home, it was just like it used to be – candles burning all week long, blessing within the dough and the cloud on the tent. Somehow, Rivka managed to be the continuation of the legacy of her late mother in law. What was her Zechus?
Rav Shimshon Dovid Pinkus (Tiferes Shimshon Al Hatorah) explains that the three blessings about Sarah’s home are really 3 necessary secrets to any Jewish home. They are:
- 1) The candles burning from Friday to Friday: The truth is that lighting candles on Friday for Shabbos are done for Shalom Bayis. For if there is no light in the home, people trip over one another and they fight. But in the home of the Tzaddik, the light burns from Friday until the next Friday – taking the light of Shabbos and the concern for one another into the rest of the week making sure that no one accidentally trips over each other and harms one another. This is a critical element for pursuing Shalom in the home.
- 2) The Beracha in the dough: The Talmud (Beitza 16a) tells us that a person’s economic success is determined on Rosh Hashana. The Talmud lists exceptions though: That which we spend on Shabbos and Yom Tov meals and costs for educating our children do not enter these calculations. In these areas we are permitted to indulge but in everything else, we are to learn how to make do with what we receive from Hashem in order to appropriately stretch the bounty as far as possible. The appropriate accounting also helps create Shalom Bayis.
- 3) The Cloud on the Tent: The cloud refers to our own Tzniyus. Jews aren’t supposed to air their dirty laundry in public. In fact, all personal issues should remain where they belong – in the home with dignity and privacy. Divulging intimate issues merely ruins the dignity that a Jewish home should be.
Rav Pinkus adds that through these three elements we can be Zocheh to three critical Berachos of any Jewish home – of Shalom Bayis, Parnassa Tova and Kedusha that will allow the Shechina to dwell within our homes and our midst.
Yichus: What is it?
The Talmud (Kiddushin 70b) notes that when Hashem chooses to rest his Shechina, he only chooses the families with Yichus among the Jewish people. Rashi notes that Yichus here does not refer to Chassidishe Rebbes. Rather, Rashi notes that the Yichus here serves a purpose to clarify that there is no hint of Mamzerus (results from an illicit relationship) within Am Yisrael. The Tur cites Rashi explanation of this Gemara and the Bach adds that if a person wants to marry someone who is not at their family’s station, this is not Halachically objectionable (In fact Tosafos
Tosafos Yom Tov (Taanis 4:8) offers two interpretations of what Yichus is about: First, he notes that Yichus refers to not having any questionable ancestry but later offers a second interpretation. He notes that Yichus refers to families that possess Chochma and Yirah. The Rema (Even Haezer 2:1) seems to hold like the first interpretation, choosing to castigate one who marries for wealth when there is questionable ancestry not when there is no Chassidishe Yichus.
The problem is that there are many instances where a strict caste system IS implied in the Halachic literature. Take the case of the Kohein allowing his daughter to marry a non-Talmid Chacham where the Talmud (Pesachim 49a) warns us that the shidduch will not work out, or the Talmid Chacham who marries the daughter of an Am Haaretz – the wedding of which, the Talmud says a Talmid Chacham cannot derive pleasure from. How do we work out the Yichus question in these cases?
Chavos Yair (Shut Chavos Yair, 70) argues that there is no such Am Haaretz today. For today we cannot find someone who does not study Torah or perform Mitzvos or engage in Gemilus Chassadim. The argument is a strong one but many ask why the Halacha was codified in Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 2:8) if it were extinct. Rav Shlomo Kluger (Shut Tuv Taam V”Daas Tilsaah I:263) argues that such an Am HaAretz does not exist today but Ben Yehoyada (Pesachim 49a) adds that Rav Shlomo kluger would have to concede that such an Am HaAretz COULD exist (i.e. someone could be so unlearned and ungiving) and if so, would be restricted in regard to marrying with his family. Either way, the system is in the hands of the family – not necessarily the ancestry – to create a strong Yesod for the Jewish future. In fact, Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Shut Yichaveh Daas V:61) allows the non-Kohein to marry a Bas Kohein as long as he continues his dedication to Torah study.
There are other problematic texts though. The Talmud (Chullin 4b) notes that if a person is a Mumar so his wine is treated like prohibited wine. The Ran (Chiddushim, Chullin 4b) notes that his daughter is fine. The difficulty begins though, when we examine the Shulchan Aruch (Even Haezer, siman 16) who seems to assume otherwise (See Maharam Shick, O.C. 305)?
Similarly, Maharam Shick (14) cautions against marrying the daughter of a public Michallel Shabbos? How do we interpret Yichus in these cases?
Rav Ovadiah Yosef adds that in these cases there is no problem: the fact is that we are concerned that the young woman might follow in the path of her parent. However, there is no prohibition of marrying these women as they are Jewish (Yisroel Af Al Pi Sh’Chata Yisroel Hu). Indeed, we find many instances where Jewish kings allowed themselves to marry those whom we might consider Mumarim. They key issue is whether the young match will lead our child away from the path of Torah observance, if so, the shidduch should be re-examined. However, where not an issue, the hidduch is one of great Yichus.
It should be noted that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztl. (Kovetz Mivakshei Torah, 9) notes that our young women who study in Torah based seminaries all still maintain the status of Bas Talmid Chacham – as the Chiuch will provide them with the ability to establish homes that will be L’Shem U’l’tiferes for the Jewish people.