Rabbi Simcha Feuerman, DHL, LCSW-R
In psychology of the Daf (Kesuvos 70) we discussed the importance of liminal states. Whenever a person is in transition from one state to another, it is symbolic of rebirth. Psychologically speaking, many people regress or reactivate past traumas and attachment patterns when they pass from one life stage to another, such as a graduation or marriage.
Rashi on Amud Aleph (Eimar) uses cryptic language to describe a woman when she is betrothed (arusa-kiddushin) but not yet living with her husband (nisuin): He calls it a safek nisuin, a state of doubt between kiddushin and nisuin. At face value, this is difficult, as it is not actually a safek but a transition point. There is Brisker Torah that quotes a famous Ritva (Yoma 47b) who makes a similar statement about Bein Hashemashos. Even though the Gemara describes it as a safek (a state of doubt between day and night), the Ritva holds it is not literally a doubt, but rather a blend of both aspects of day and night. That is to say, it is not a halakhic question as to if, technically, it has become evening or is still day. Rather, like an Androgynus that is halachically indeterminate if it is a woman or man, this time of the day, is intrinsically indeterminate. It has both features of day and night. Thus, Rashi here may mean that the arusa is in an indeterminate state of partial and full marriage, having mixed features.
Returning to the psychology of liminal states, there is a wonderful chassidishe vort regarding a well known teaching that we say in shul every Friday night. It involves multiple plays on words:
חייב אדם למשמש בגדיו ערב שבת עם חשיכה שמא ישכח ויצא
One is obligated to search his garments (bgadav) Friday night as it gets dark, lest he forget that he has objects in his pocket and carries on Shabbos.
The word Beged in Hebrew means clothing, but it also has the same root as betrayal (boged, see Shemos, 21:8). Therefore, the teaching is hinting that at the close of the week, right before Shabbos, one must check his “betrayals”, i.e. review his actions from the week to make sure he has not wronged anyone, and if necessary, make restitution in order to enter in to Shabbos without impurities. In Jungian dream analysis, clothing often is symbolic for persona. Perhaps, one also must check their personality traits and qualities that he or she projects to the world, so that one can transition to Shabbos in the most elevated state.
If this is true, then Eirusin is also a form of Bein Hashemashos, a liminal state between marriage and singlehood. That time, like erev Shabbos, requires a checking and review of past betrayals and personality traits in order to prepare for entry into marriage on the highest level.
(This devar Torah is in honor of my Son Nesanel’s Engagement to his lovely Kallah, Sarah Meth.)
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Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation
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