When we go into a relationship there are alot of things that need to be considered. Our selection of a mate will of course have its foundation in physical, tangible attraction. But that is when we are to exhibit the one quality that seperates us from the animals: sekel (intellect, discretion, foresight).
We are to select a mate based upon the intangible content of one’s character. Whether or not someone is genetically predisposed to diseases should be considered, not the size of a woman’s breast or length of a man’s penis. Whether or not someone has a family history of mental illness should be discussed, not what kind of career one has or car that is being driven. Goals, aspirations, and whether or not someone possesses empathy should be taken into account not the price of one’s home or what designer they can afford.
Great care in selecting a mate should take precedence especially when children are involved. The progeny one has from a previous relationship should be included in a Sistren’s or Brethren’s decision of a potential mate. How well a child receives someone as a surrogate bears witness of that person’s very essence. As mature adults that have been jaded by life, our intentions for getting into an intimate relationship are not always conducive. The integrity of a child, on the other hand, can always be trusted.
If we want simple, laid out instructions as to how we should conduct ourselves toward our spouses, we do not have to look any further than our Miqra Qadosh (Holy Scripture). Both exogamy and endogamy as customs were practiced by our ancestors. Even the practices of polygamy and monogamy were customs observed at one time or another by various personalities throughout Miqra (Scripture).
In Hebrew there are multiple words for “marriage,” but I will only discuss two of them: keluloth, which means “espousal”; chathan, which means “affinity.” Keluloth, or espousal, is synonymous with “support, advocacy, guidance, and cooperation.” While chathan, or affinity, can also be defined as “a promise, an agreement, a covenant, or bond/union.” All of this is descriptive of how we are supposed to conduct ourselves regarding our mates.
Endogamy is marriage within a specific group required by custom. Another definition of endogamy is sexual reproduction between near relatives. Our ancestors believed that inbreeding of good stock sometimes resulted in the upbiulding of strong tribes. The spectacular defects as the result of inbreeding forcibly impressed upon the minds of men certain prohibitions against all marriages among near relatives.
Exogamy is marriage outside a specific group as required by custom. This move away from sister and brother marriage came about under the plural marriage ideal, because the sister-wife would arrogantly dominate the other wives.
Many of the tribe’s elders among our ancient Israelite ancestors forbade endogamy (inbreeding), while in some cases endogamy was permitted among certain castes. The taboo aganst a Sistren marrying within her own shevet, or tribe, gave impetus to the custom of political marriages from neighboring tribes. Exogamy (outbreeding) itself was a peace promoter because marriages between tribes/clans lessened hostilities. Outmarriage led to tribal coordination and to military alliances, it was a nation builder.
The next step in mating evolution was group marriage. This communal phase of keluloth (espousal) and chathan (affinity) gradually gave way before the emerging practice of polygamy among the more advanced shevetim, or tribes. Polyandry, being a form of polygamy, is when a Sistren has more than one male mate at a time. Such a practice is usually limited to queens and rich women. Caste and economic restrictions sometimes make it neceessary for several men to content themselves with one wife. Even then, the Sistren would marry only one, the others being loosely tolerated as dodim, or uncles.
Monogamy, as the more recent and popular marriage practice of this modern Anglo-Saxon (American) culture, is artificial and unnatural. The idea of monogamy, or pair marriage, entails self-denial and it often fails because one or both of the contracting parties are deficient in self-control. Not necessarily biologic, monogamy is indispensable to the immediate maintenance and further development of social civilization.
In a society where the land-to-human ratio is low, where natural resourses are limited and where a cultural identity is essentially forged out of the ruins of those who came before, the practice of monogamy is ideal. Here in this country, children that are birthed from a monogamous couple would average about 3. Considering our current economic climate and slow deterioration of principles, pair marriages are of value because it serves as a form of population control.
Our Miqra, or Scripture, gives example after example of the multiple mariage practices we have the option to adhere to. It is our responsibility to decide which marriage practice best fits our individual personality and is conducive to the fulfillment of our aspirations. Then we have to communicate that decision to our selected mate.
Love is the cornerstone of marital and family life, not the incessant need to procreate, dominate, and conserve. Our elders saw ha-mashpachah, or clan/family, as the channel through which the river of culture and knowledge flowed from one generation to another. They understood that ha-mishpachah (family) provides for the biologic perpetuation of the human species, as well as being the fundamental unit in which parents and children learn the lessons of patience, tolerance, unselfishness, and forbearance.
Love maybe the cornerstone of marital and family life, but honesty is their foundation.
DONOVAN DAVID CLARK