the meaning of marriage

February 24, 2009

The Meaning of Marriage

At a certain point in the Seder someone rises and opens the door for Elijah. At that moment a thought, a dream, or a remembrance may pass through our minds and hearts but, at least in my limited experience, no shadow ever darkens the door. Not so with marriage. S_ and J_, when you go home from this place you will find a new companion going with you, someone or something far older than Elijah yet as fresh, young and unknown as your next breath.

The words you speak today will lift and pull you into a living tradition that from this day forward will embrace, attend, and, at times, exasperate you. You are not only committing yourselves to each other, you are committing yourselves to commitment. You are making a promise to a promise, pledging your words to a word.


And that word will stay with you, bless you, depend on you, and weigh on you. It will tie you down and free you up, it will free you into those things that only it offers. It will challenge and test you and require of you things that you don’t know you possess.

It is good. It is very good. It is good to have a companion and a mate. It is good to commit yourself to another’s well-being. It is sweet and priceless to receive such a vow. To become accountable to someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart, to face your frailties and flaws in the nakedness of your embrace, and to have a home and to make a home in the tenderness of that embrace. To be yourself with another, to grow and become yourselves together. To be dependable and have someone to depend on, to have a measure of certainty, to trust, to love. We are mortal. But while we are here we belong here, and we belong to each other. Our lives are with each other.

You are taking these words on today. And soon they will take you on. They are your words, your gestures, signs, and intentions, and yet they are not. What you are doing has been done thousands of millions of times before, and yet never in all of human existence, have you S_ and J_ been wed.

It is old and simple, new and difficult. It is worth it. It is a dance, and how you dance it will define marriage for those around you. You will become the meaning of marriage. You will soon be in its rhythms, you indeed already are. What else is this wedding? Dance, dance, high step it and spin. Have fun, grow with it, be humbled and stamp it with your smiles, your joys, your caring, your hopes, and effervescence. Be yourselves, be a couple, and show us how it’s done.

We bless you on this dancing day.


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