Monday, June 27, 2011

It's the Small Things that Count

A new bridegroom, according to Judaic doctrine, attains: The status of majesty (e.g., he must walk escorted); A slate wiped clean of sins (gaining the rank of tzaddik); And given the possibility to procreate and provide Jewish life to another generation.

What does it take to rise to such height? One penny! The ring he places on the bride must be valued at least worth one penny.

How does the lofty state achieved by matrimony reconcile with its most minimal requisite of money, when one would think a much higher price would have been in order?

Because a penny, the smallest unit of currency, is the base upon which all amounts depend. All currency, no matter the quantity involved, has as its most fundamental unit, the unit of the penny. Without a penny, the currency structure would have nothing to stand on.

The groom, in his new relationship with his bride, also must relate to that which is minimal, whatever it is, and do it right. Everything he does depends on his taking each small step of his enduring relationship - correctly, with utmost attention to the smallest of issues no less than to more heavily thought-of issues.

In particular, this refers to his attitude to Torah and mitzvot! Whatever the mitzvah, however trivial it appears, even if it seems so minor people tend to "tread on it with their heels" (Rashi; Deu. 7, 12) - that very mitzvah - the one-penny lesson teaches, is the very basis of a flourishing relationship with God (and with the wife). If a mitzvah deemed so small is done in cherished mode, if this small unit is negotiated in the best of faith, then all other mitzvot will most certainly be executed in proper fashion. If the smallest unit takes him into serious contemplation and conduct, all other mitzvot comprise more of what that minimum represents and, therefore, will be done meticulously.

At which point he deserves the prominent standing he first received by merely spending a penny!
This novel insight comes from a friend of mine (Hershel Pekar).

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