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Torah As A Marriage Contract

The supreme poet of marriage was Hosea. By reading this haftarah on the Shabbat before Shavuot, we make a momentous affirmation: that in giving the Torah to Israel, God was not asserting His power, dominance or lordship over Israel (what Hosea means when he uses the word ba’al). He was declaring His love. That is why it is no accident that the words with which the haftarah ends – among the most beautiful in the entire religious literature of mankind – are the words Jewish men recite every weekday morning as they wind the strap of the hand-tefillin like a wedding ring around their finger, renewing daily the marriage covenant of Sinai:

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, love and compassion; I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you will know God.”

Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, to be published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.

About the Author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.


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