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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 2:24 leave

The rabbis focus on both the elementary fact of the shift in physical domicile that occurs with marriage, and the more meaningful psychological-experiential development.  The Aramaic translation of Onkelos (followed closely by Pseudo-Jonathan and Targum Jerusalem) renders [this verse] in the following, somewhat puzzling manner: “ … a man will leave the sleeping place of his father and mother and cleave to his wife ….” [But why the stress on the “sleeping-place” as the area to be left? Surely the son did not occupy the parental bedroom till his nuptials! There are, I believe, three alternative readings of Onkelos: (a) “sleeping-place” stresses the sexual nature of the new bond; (b) the phrase is meant literally, stressing that the son is expected to be available for filial service of his parents, though he is no longer in the same intimate physical nearness—perhaps he is to live in the parental house with his bride; (c) the phrase is meant literally and contains the halakhic derivation of the ban on incest. Onkelos would then be saying: “Do not to sleep [have sexual relations] with mother or father, but cleave to another for your wife.” (S. Wertheimer, Or ha-Targum, p. 9). Such an interpretation of the verse can be traced back at least as far as R. Akiba [Sanhedrin 58a] and is later cited by Rashi ad loc.] The simplest meaning of this translation is that with marriage the new husband leaves the house of his parents to establish his own home.  See R. David Kimhi (Radak), ad loc.: “The meaning of the verse is close to its rendering by Onkelos; it is not said that a man shall leave his father and mother for his wife, so that he does not serve them or honor them as he is able, but that it is right that a man leave his father and mother … and no longer live with them, but live … with his wife.” Radak reflects a reading of Onkelos from the perspective of Pirke de-R. Eliezer: cf. infra. Note also the transition from the relatively descriptive terms of the Torah (see Cassutto, Commentary on Genesis, 1, p. 137) for a more normative judgment of vocabulary. While Onkelos sees the verse in terms of the shift in physical domicile, the Midrash focuses on the emotional and psychic displacement:  a man ”leaves” much more than the physical environment of childhood when he marries. See Cassutto, op. cit. whose comments derive—even verbally—from the midrashic material to be cited.  The stimulus for the midrashic comment is the remarkable verse that concludes the story of Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca: The Midrash notes the personal, psychological suggestiveness of the episode and reflects, as well, upon its universal insight: R. Jose said: “Isaac mourned his mother Sarah three years. At the end of three years he married Rebecca and stopped morning his mother. Thus we see that until a man takes a wife, he directs his love toward his parents. Once he marries, he directs his love toward his wife, as we read, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, so that they become one flesh." Does a man leave his parents in the sense that he is free of the obligation to honor them? Rather, his soul’s love cleaves to his wife. …”  Pirke de-R. Eliezer, chapter 32.  Expounding the Isaac-Rebecca episode, the Midrash is explicit where the Bible only hints. Isaac found, in loving his wife, consolation for the love he could no longer bestow upon his mother. But the Midrash then generalizes from Isaac’s compensation for the love of his dead mother by the love of his wife, to the substitution of the love of one’s wife for the love of one’s living parents. In the process, the meaning of [this verse] is deepened. It is not only a physical displacement that is described but, more significantly, an emotional one. Filial love (though not filial respect!) Is supplemented by love of one’s mate.  Nahmanides read these verses from a similar perspective: … a man wants his wife to be with him always, as it was implanted in his nature for the males to cleave to their wives; they leave their fathers and mothers, see themselves one flesh with their wives. … Man … sees that his wife is closer to him than his parents … when Isaac saw Rebecca he brought her to that tent to honor her, and there he took her, and this is the meaning of “he loved her and found comfort,” which hints at his great, inconsolable sorrow over his mother until he was consoled in his wife, in his love for her, for otherwise, why would the Torah mention the love of man for his wife?  Both Midrash and Nahmanidies see in [this verse] a classic formulation of the new personal reality that is presented by marriage and the love it reflects. But this reality, while affecting filial love, need not affect filial responsibility of service and reverence. Indeed, the Midrash firmly rejects the notion that these responsibilities are terminated by marriage: “Does a man leave his parents in the sense that he is free of the obligation to honor them?” Yet, while the emotional development need not affect filial concern, and the Midrash insists it should not, the shifting physical arrangements and the new focus the responsibility cannot help but affect the dimensions of filial service and involvement.  BLIDSTEIN 95-98
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GENESIS — 2:24 leaves

… filial responsibility is not derived from, or connected to, unique filial love.  We recall Maimonides’ assertion that filial patience must sometimes fall back upon the “awe and fear of the King of Kings who commanded him thus.” The Midrash similarly dissociates honor and love when discussing…the relationship of a man to his wife and his relationship to his parents: “Until a man takes a wife, he directs his love toward his parents. Once he marries, he directs his love toward his wife, as we read, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave until his wife and they shall be one flesh. [this verse]. Does a man leave his parents in the sense that he is free of the obligation to honor them? Rather, his soul’s love cleaves to his wife …  BLIDSTEIN 55-6
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GENESIS — 2:24 leaves

… the son was expected to “leave his father and his mother” [this verse] … this verse was translated by Onkelos to include a shift in physical domicile.  In mishnaic times, though, many married sons doubtless remained quite near the parental hearth, a tendency explicable on economic as well as social grounds. Parents would sometimes provide a “bridal house for their son” in the immediate vicinity of their own home; if we may judge by its name, this was a temporary dwelling.  [M. Baba Batra 6:4. The Talmudic discussion strongly implies that this “house” is adjacent to the parental home.]  On the other hand, the rabbis disapproved of the new couple’s living with the bride’s parents [Baba Bata 98b, Pesachim 113a, Kiddushin 12b, p. Kiddushin 3:8; 64b], though it was an old Judeaen custom for the son-in-law to “live-in” at the bride’s home for a period separating the betrothal (kiddushin) and the completion of the marriage (nissu’im), and economic and personal considerations doubtless led many similar situations throughout the country.  M. Ketubot 1:5, Tosefta Ketubot 1:4.  There was, of course, one pursuit that did compel its devotee to travel far from the parental home for great lengths of time: the study of Torah. The student of Torah was encouraged by the rabbis to spend years at the academy (yeshiva), far from mother and father; as the rabbis won the loyalty of greater number of Jews, more and more young men doubtless left their homes to study at central academies.  Rav himself declared, “The study of Torah is greater than filial piety. For Jacob was not punished for all the years [of study] in the academy of Ever… Megillah 16b.  BLIDSTEIN 110
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GENESIS — 2:24 leaves

The issue of continued filial proximity to parents has been with us from [this verse] on: we have heard it, too, in many of the medieval writings. Actually, though, the rabbinic sources do not discuss the matter as an “issue” at all, leaving it –at the most – a corollary of other, more basic responsibilities and attitudes.  Filial proximity is viewed, on the hole, in functional rather than sentimental terms.  BLIDSTEIN 109
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GENESIS — 2:24 leaves

The richest midrashic reflection on the problem of filial proximity and service concerns G-d’s command to Abraham to leave his father’s house and go to the land that G-d would show him: “Now the Lord said to Abram: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee” [Genesis 12:1]. What was written in Scripture just prior to this? “And Terah died in Haran” [Genesis 11:32]. R. Isaac said, “Terah actually lived sixty-five years more after Abraham left! But firstly, we infer that the wicked are called dead even while they are alive; for Abraham was apprehensive, saying, “When I leave, men will profane the name of G-d because of me, as they will say, "He left his aged father and went off.” So G-d said to Abraham, “I release you from the obligation of honoring your father and your mother, but I will release no other from this obligation; furthermore, I will inscribe his death [in the Bible] before I inscribe your departure.’” Genesis Rabbah (II, p. 369).  BLIDSTEIN 110-1
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GENESIS — 26:34 bitterness

The great talmudic examples of filial piety are drawn from the life of Dama ben Netinah, “a non-Jew from Ashkelon.” Kiddushin 31b, and elsewhere.   In this he followed in the footsteps of Esau, of whom R. Simeon ben Gamliel said, “I served my father all my life, but I never served him a hundredth as well as Esau served his father.” Genesis Rabbah 65:16  So highly valued was this filial devotion that G-d granted Rome (Esau) all “this glory” (or, dominion) as reward. Tanhuma (ed. Buber), Kedoshim 15 (p. 40a). Midrash ha-Gadol, cited by Theodore-Albeck (Genesis Rabbah, II, 728 [1:3], relates these last two midrashic statements: R. Simeon ben Gamliel contrasts the behavior of Esau, who served his father in royal costume, with his own habit of attending to his father in ordinary dress. Hence, the descendants of Esau merited secular dominion in this world.  Middah ke-negged middah; kabod is returned for kibbud.   What induced the rabbis to find in Esau and his descendants models whom Jews might well emulate? The biblical suggestion that Esau was ever ready to fulfill his father’s command [Genesis 27:3-4] hardly warrants, in itself, such fulsome exposition; furthermore, the Bible has already presented Esau as paining his father greatly through his marriage [this verse] and will show him cynically expectant of his father’s death [Genesis 27:41] The rabbis differed on the interpretation of this verse. For some it showed Esau’s solicitousness toward his father; for others it indicated his eagerness to see his father dead.    See Genesis Rabbah 67:8 (p. 764), and notes.  A reasonable suggestion is that the rabbis were, in fact, impressed with the gravity and importance of filial piety among the Romans. They were certainly aware of both patria potestas and the concern for filial piety among the moralists and thinkers. Patria poestas and, in fact, the entire “legal” conception of the family were in an irreversible decline during the rabbinic period, it is true, but as part of the history of Rome, they provided a good justification for the origins of Rome’s greatness. Furthermore, the ethic expressed in patria potestas was imbued, in more humane fashion, throughout the Roman world in this period. In Hellenistic Alexandria, “the honor of parents was a popular theme of pedagogic moralizing,” I. Heinemann, Philons Griechische u. Judishe Bildung, pp. 257 and it was a staple of Stoic thought. Patria potestas was doubtless considered savage and inhumane in allowing parents to expose an unwanted child and to deny all property rights to the son. But the rabbis found the Romans exemplary even when measured by the Jewish standard of filial ethics. The behavior singled out for rabbinic praise—Esau’s eagerness to satisfy his father’s wish and the royal clothes he wore while serving him; Dama’s refusal to disturb his father even at the price of financial loss and his patient and passive endurance of his mother’s rage and blows—is not that described by patria potestas but rather by pietas and reverentia, the kind of filial respect and honor deemed exemplary in Jewish ethics. Clearly, then, this ethics was considered part of the heritage of all mankind. BLIDSTEIN 36
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GENESIS — 26:35 bitterness

Challenges to the filial relationship were often precipitated by the marriage of the child, first by the choice of the mate and then by the variety of stresses that the filial and marital states impose upon each other.   The patriarchs provided clear models here.   Of Esau it was written [this verse]. But of Jacob it was told that “he obeyed his father and mother” and went to Paddam-aram to take a wife of his mother’s family Genesis 28:7.   The Midrash is more explicit: “The way of a fool is straight in his own eyes: But he that is wise hearkens to counsel” Proverbs 12:15. “The way of the fool” – this is Samson, who said, “Get her for me, for she is good in my eyes” Judges 14:3. “But he that is wise” – this is Jacob, as it is said, “He listed to his father and mother.”   Genesis Rabbah 67:12  It is to be noted, though, that in all the incidents cited above, the parental preference or antipathy is not arbitrary but is substantively grounded: a wife of Israelite or related stock is preferable to a Hittite or Philistine woman.   What is stressed, therefore, is not parental prerogative but parental wisdom—and, of course, the propriety of parental involvement.  BLIDSTEIN 83-4
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