I’m a happy single Jewish guy, and don’t personally see a reason to get married. I’ve been in very meaningful relationships, some of them long-lasting, which I feel gives me all I would want to get out of life and marriage. I don’t feel the need to go through all the hassle of raising children.
As you can imagine, my mother has me on a serious guilt trip, but I’m not planning to get married out of guilt. Am I wrong?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
I am going to take the liberty of offering you some light rebuke. It’s not really about marriage you’re asking, but about the way you view life in general, and marriage is just one specific question which emanates from your worldview.
Between the lines of your question, it is apparent that your motivation in life is to “get” as much as you can out of life and others, not what you can give. You perceive raising children as a hassle which, in comparing investment versus reward, is not be worth it. You “get” all you need out of your temporary relationships without the investment implicit in an eternally committed relationship.
This weltanschauung is antithetical to the Jewish worldview. We Jews are enjoined to “Walk in God’s ways,” to emulate Him in all aspects of our lives. The Talmud explains that just as He is merciful, we, too, should be merciful, forgiving, and above all, giving. To give to others is to emulate God. Life is not about what one can get, but what one can give. When one is receiving, they’re not expressing their own lives in the fullest, since to receive doesn’t cause growth. Every time you give, you grow, and growth is life.
Furthermore, the more you take and receive without giving in return, the more you become selfish and self-centered, the opposite of Godliness and Judaism.
The Talmud says that “one only becomes complete with marriage.” One of the main reasons for getting married is to help each other grow through a lifelong process of emotional, intellectual and spiritual sharing and challenge. Marriage is also the ultimate framework for giving and receiving in a way which emulates God, and at the same time builds the world into a stable, joyous environment. All this is implicit in the verse, “It is not good for man to be ‘alone’; I will make a helpmate opposite to him” (Genesis 2:18). As long as a person remains single, it is not “good” – i.e. not only is the person incomplete, but the entire creation also lacks perfection. (Rabbi S. R. Hirsch)
The Torah says that through marriage, man and woman “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). One meaning of this is the fusion of two halves into a unified whole, as the Kabbalah teaches that every soul is divided into male and female components before being sent to the world, and the match is the re-fusion of the halves into one.
Another meaning is through together having children they become one flesh. This fulfills the mitzvah to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Being fruitful doesn’t just literally having children. It encompasses realizing and actualizing one’s potential through sharing and challenge in marriage, in a way that one’s productive traits and talents ripen and produce pleasant fruits, multiplying an asset to the world.
May you become truly satisfied with your future true fulfillment through marriage.