This week I read an interesting piece of news which got me thinking about the upcoming holiday of Shavuos (The Festival of Weeks):
LIVERPOOL, N.S.—A Nova Scotia man who was part of one of Canada’s longest-lasting couples has died after 80 years of marriage at the age of 101. According to an obituary, Bill Nickerson passed away peacefully on Sunday in the brick house he had shared with his 98-year-old wife, Bertie, since 1935. They met by chance in Bill’s hometown of Liverpool and married after dating for three years so that 15-year-old Bertie could finish high school. Bill worked much of his life at the nearby paper mill, while Bertie was a nurse.
Wow! Imagine being married to the same person for 80 years! These days most people don’t make it past 5-10 years! What an accomplishment! What a milestone!
This reminds me of a (terrible) joke:
Even though Morris and Sadie had been married for a very, very long time, they still decided to visit a divorce lawyer. At the first meeting, the lawyer asks them, "Why in the world do you want to get divorced? You each look well into your nineties. Why now of all times?” Morris replies, "Actually, I'm 102 and my wife Sadie is 101." The lawyer is totally bemused and asks them again "So why do you want a divorce now?" Sadie replies this time, "Well, we would have gotten divorced much earlier but we wanted to wait until all of the children were dead."
The truth is that while 80 years is certainly a long time to be married to someone – it doesn’t even come close to the longest recorded marriage in history – the marriage of G-d and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai 3328 years ago!
As King Solomon writes in the Song of Songs (3:11): “Go forth and gaze, O daughters distinguished by loyalty to G-d, upon the King to Whom peace belongs adorned with the crown His nation made for Him on His wedding day and on the day of His heart’s bliss”.
And the Talmud in Ta’anis 26b interprets this verse as follows: “on His wedding day” – this refers to the day of the Giving of the Torah; “on the day of His heart’s bliss” – this refers to the building of the Temple.
At that “Royal Wedding” which took place over three millennia ago – and the anniversary of which is still celebrated today on the holiday of Shavuos - the “Matchmaker” (Moses) led the “Bride” (the Jewish people) to the “Bridegroom” (G-d, the King of all Kings) under the “Chuppah” (Mount Sinai), with the Torah that we received as the “Kesubah” (marriage contract).
Now we Jews have certainly had some “marital spats” with G-d over the centuries and millennia. Why we were even kicked out of His house (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) not once but twice!! And He has been a whole lot better to us than we have been to Him – as often happens in a marriage.
But one thing we must always know – and of which we are reminded annually on the holiday of Shavuos – is that our “Husband in Heaven” has always loved us and will always love us. And the Torah that He gave us under the Chuppah 3328 years ago at Mount Sinai – with all its myriad laws and obligations – is truly the greatest expression of G-d’s love.
How fortunate are we Jews to be married to G-d and to have received His Torah!