Marriage Perspectives

Ki yikach ish ishah (Devarim 24:1)

Parashas Ki Seitzei contains the Torah source for marriage (Kiddushin 2a). The Mishnah (Megillah 4:3) teaches that various parts of the prayer service that are considered a davar she’bikedushah — matter of holiness — require a minimum quorum of 10 adult Jewish males for their recitation, as the Torah commands (Vayikra 22:32): “V’nikdashti b’soch Bnei Yisrael — I shall be sanctified amongst the Jewish people.”

The Gemara (Megillah 23b) presents a somewhat convoluted derivation for this requirement, connecting the word b’soch (in the midst of) to the word mi’toch (from the midst of) in a verse in Parashas Korach (Bamidbar 16:21), in which Hashem commands Moshe and Aharon to separate themselves from the evildoers so that He could destroy them.

The Gemara then compares the word eidah (assembly) in that verse to a verse in Parashas Shelach, in which the spies who slandered the land of Israel are referred to (Bamidbar 14:27) as an eidah raah — wicked assembly. Since there were 10 spies who slandered Eretz Yisrael, this teaches us that the minimum prayer quorum required to constitute an assembly in which Hashem’s name may be sanctified is 10.

There is also a legal requirement that a minyan be present at a wedding ceremony. The Gemara (Kesuvos 7b) derives this from a verse in Megillas Rus (4:2), which records that when Boaz wished to marry Rus, he assembled 10 men from his city to be present for the ceremony. Why did the Gemara need an additional source for this obligation instead of deriving it from the aforementioned general rule regarding all matters of sanctity?

There was once a Rabbi in Israel who performed weddings in his house for non-religious couples. On one occasion, there was a delay in assembling a minyan for the occasion, and some of the people present began to get impatient, questioning why it was necessary to have 10 men present for the ceremony. The Rabbi, who was not particularly learned, incorrectly responded that any matter of holiness requires the presence of a quorum of 10 men.

When the Gerrer Rebbe heard about this incident, he questioned why we in fact derive the requirement for a minyan at a wedding from Boaz and not from Korach and the spies, as we do for other prayer-related matters? He suggested that while it is important to draw the wicked close and permit them to join us in our prayer gatherings, Chazal are teaching us that our attitude toward marriage must be on a higher level. The establishment of a Jewish home must be with aspirations of creating a dwelling place for the Shechinah (Divine presence), not one that has any connection to evildoers.

With this explanation, the Gerrer Rebbe added that it was sadly ironic that the Rabbi told the impatient guests that they needed 10 men to start because of the general rule that is derived from Korach and the spies. Although there may be marriages that have their roots in such sinners, our goal and our ideal vision for marriage must be based on the exclusive pursuit of holiness, and for that reason we derive its laws from Boaz and Rus, the progenitors of the Davidic line of kings, and ultimately of Moshiach.

Q: The Targum Yonason ben Uziel renders the prohibition (Devarim 22:5) against female use of male garments as forbidding a woman to wear tefillin or tzitzis. How can this be reconciled with the Gemara in Eruvin (96a) that relates that Shaul’s daughter Michal wore tefillin with the consent of the Sages?

Q: It is forbidden to plow with an ox and donkey together (22:10). The Rambam rules (Hilchos Kilayim 9:7) that this prohibition applies to any case of plowing with one kosher animal and one non-kosher animal. How is it possible that somebody plowed with two animals of the same species, yet violated this commandment?

A: The Levush explains that the prohibition against wearing clothing of the other gender is to prevent a person from intermingling with the opposite gender. Because Michal was the daughter of the king, she was well-known and recognizable to all. Because this would prevent her from being able to intermingle with men, she was permitted to wear tefillin. Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, answers that she was of the opinion that women are also obligated in the mitzvah of tefillin, in which case they aren’t considered a male garment.

A: The Gemara in Makkos (22a) rules that if someone works his field with a shor pesulei hamukdashim — an ox that was sanctified to be offered as a sacrifice, but became blemished and disqualified before it was offered — he is punished with lashes. The Gemara explains that although this ox is only one animal, the Torah views it as a forbidden combination of two different species, and the person who used it therefore receives lashes for violating the prohibition against plowing with an ox and donkey together.

The commentary on this Gemara, which is attributed to Rashi, but which was really written after Rashi’s death by his son-in-law the Rivan (see Rashi, Makkos 19b), explains that the Torah views this animal as a mixture of Chullin (ordinary), since it may be slaughtered and eaten outside of the Beis Hamikdash after its sanctity has been redeemed, and Kodashim (consecrated), since it is forbidden to shear or work with the animal due to the sanctity it still possesses.

The Rivan adds that he is amazed by this ruling and could not find a source for it. The Mishneh L’melech notes that according to the Rivan’s explanation, it would be forbidden to work with two animals of the same species if one is Chullin and the other is Kodashim.

Originally from Kansas City, Rabbi Ozer Alport graduated from Harvard, learned in Mir Yerushalayim for five years, and now lives in Brooklyn, where he learns in Yeshivas Beis Yosef, is the author of the recently-published sefer Parsha Potpourri, and gives weekly shiurim. To send comments to the author or to receive his Divrei Torah weekly, please email