We share with you the wonderful news of David Levine’s engagement to Smadar Ben-Chaim, his one and only wife-to-be. David has participated in more of our events and shabbatonim than any other person since we started our work with Olim and Lone Soldiers. I met David two years ago at a Great Synagogue Lone Soldier’s Friday Night dinner that we attended together. Since that first Shabbos, we have spent much time together schmoozing and learning Torah. He has been at our Shabbos table half a dozen times and has been present at almost every Oro Shel Adam event that we have hosted.
Motzai Shabbot, as the couple was finalizing their decision to become engaged, David brought Smadar to our home for Seudat Malava Malka to meet Batya and I. They became engaged early last week and celebrated with a L’chayim last Tuesday night.
Mazal Tov to David, Smadar and their families! His engagement is our simcha!
In addition, a year ago – Parshat Vayechi – marked our 100th Email/Dvar Torah. We feel privileged to have reached our 150th issue also coinciding with the same weekly portion. Hashem should bless us to be able to share Dvrai Torah and Oro Shel Adam bsorot tovot for many years to come.
Parshat Vayechi marks the passing of our great patriarch, referred to by Chaza”l as the “בחיר האבות” (Select among the Avot), Yaakov Avinu. In eulogizing “the Father of all of the Tribes of Israel,” we could speak at length about the lofty Kabbalistic, Divine attributes that Yaakov Avinu cultivated and personified. We could explore the metaphysical significance of Yisrael, among his father, grandfather and Dovid Hamelech, being worthy to be one of the pillars of the Kiseh HaKavod (Divine Chariot). Those maybe the essential qualities of this great Tzaddik, but today we’ll focus on the more corporal and worldly side of Yaakov.
If I was eulogizing Yaakov Avinu in this fashion, I would focus on the fact that he was able to keep four wives happily married (most of the time) to him! The Torah even reports to us that Rachel and Leah skirmished with each other over spending time with their cherished husband. Just to give us a concept of this great accomplishment, in our generation most men struggle with just one wife. Half the time the marriage is dissolved and the other half the couple has to resort to reassuring themselves by saying, “no matter how bad we think our marriage is, the neighbor’s is much worse.”
Keeping a woman happy involves making her know and feel that she is by far the most important, most precious “thing” that the husband has. Yaakov’s accomplishment of doing this successfully with four different women, all at the same time, is very impressive.
The Gemara in Psachim 88a teaches us that the Beit Hamikdash is called the “Beit Elokai Yaakov” the House of the God of Yaakov. Why Yaakov? The commentaries explain that Yaakov is highlighted as a result of the shlamut and completeness of his home. Unlike Avraham and Yitzchak, Yaakov merited that all of his children were chosen as the שבטי י-ה. Yaakov will always be the prototype husband and father for Jewish homes.
Nurturing the emotional needs of a woman and attending to the practical side of raising a Jewish family is a full time effort, requiring day in and day out commitment. The males of our generation enjoy falling in love but often lack the full ability to consistently devote themselves to what it means to be involved in a loving relationship.
Yaakov’s dedication and loyalty was demonstrated in other realms as well. During the twenty years that Yaakov worked for Lavan, he (Yaakov) testifies “גנבתי יום וגנבתי לילה” (לא:לט) . Rav Sadiya Gaon explains this to mean that Yaakov burdened himself and toiled day and night in his work. Amassing the “great wealth” that Yaakov Avinu was blessed with, involved disciplined and consistent effort.
Greatness is the end result of many good and productive, sometimes boring or dull, days of hard work.
After being inspired on his Birthright trip, David Levine, our Chatan, made aliyah from Seattle almost 5 years ago. In the process of becoming more religious, David realized the only place to live is in Eretz Yisrael. Since his aliyah, he has served in Tzaha”l as a mashgiach and has spent time learning Torah in Yeshivat Machon Meir.
What is most admirable about David is his drive to build a life and a family in Israel. Moreover, he has translated that drive and that dream into practical reality. David was going to have to find a way to support himself in a foreign country. He has done so by working in Jerusalem makolets for a number of years. Combined with his continued dedication to growing in Torah, David’s impressive, day in and day out work ethic has brought him much success and bracha. In fact, he was set up with his kallah, Smadar, as a result of working together with her in the same Beit Yisrael (Jerusalem neighborhood) makolet. David serves as a wonderful example for all olim of the blessing that comes with applied and dedicated hard work. David is currently taking a course in computer application development.
We have no doubt that David will take his work ethic into his up-coming marriage to Smadar and build a Jewish Home which will radiate with the committed values of Yaakov Avinu.
David, consider it a blessing that all that is required of you is to keep one wife happy!