'A Jewish Wedding' by Artist Jozef Israëls via Wikimedia Commons

The Unity of Marriage Is Possible Only with God

An interview with the rabbi about his new book, "Adam & Eve. Marriage Secrets from the Garden of Eden," published by Paulist Press. Starting from the experience of the original couple, a look at the problems of couples today.

Maurizio Maniscalco

Why did you personally feel moved to write a book on marriage? Don’t you think enough has already been written about it?
Plenty has been written about marriage. But has it helped? We are dealing with an epidemic of over 50% divorces, latch-key children, palimony, pre-nuptial agreements, co-habitation agreements–a marital nightmare, a veritable abyss between men and women.

The problem with what’s been written about marriage is it takes marriage and looks at it psychologically, as a “war of competing thoughts”–offenses, defenses, co-dependencies, and a lot of makeshift psycho-babble and stupid politically correct ideas that have no foundation in God.

Marriage is not that! When you are married you are not merely “living together with a license,” but you have combined your psyches, your bodies–you have fused a piece of God’s creation as your very life, together with another piece of God’s creation. The context of a correct marriage is spiritual and ontological.

Allegedly, the family is still the fundamental pillar of our society, but there are problems, and lots of them.

Allegedly, but not true. The family is not the fundamental pillar of our society. The pillar is God and God’s Order in Creation.

There is an Order to life: either a marriage is aligned to it, or the marriage will fall, as in the Garden of Eden story.

What is the message you want to share with this work?God is Good. Creation is Good. You have wonderful God-given freedom–more freedom than perhaps anyone can handle–and it’s destroying marriages.

Why? Because we don’t have absolute freedom; only God is Absolute Freedom. We have relative or contingent-freedom. Either we exercise our freedom in accordance with the laws of God’s Garden, or our freedom will, exercised in excess, cause us all sorts of problems, pitfalls, pain, and suffering.

When human freedom in marriage is exercised aligned to God, there is Goodness. You experience, concretely through life, the nature of God as goodness, oneness, and freedom.

If there’s a pillar, a cornerstone in this book–ie, in marriage–this is “God.” You are a rabbi, the publishing company is Catholic. Who is this “God”?
For me, and for the publishing company, this God is the Creator and Redeemer of Israel and all humankind. Therefore, it includes both Jews and Catholics. I am entirely confident that a God who is Truth, and therefore beyond contradiction, and a God who is the Creator can resolve our petty religious antagonisms more creatively, and more truthfully, than we can.

How many years have you been married?

I’ve been married over twenty years, and I must tell you, for a good portion of it, we were very much acting like a fallen couple. We were so lost in the “generation gap” from the seventies, and we actually didn’t know how to be married. We were torn between traditional authoritarian models and non-traditional free-wheeling models. We were constantly confused. I must tell you, there were many times when we wondered whether we would make it.

What is your advice to any couple currently experiencing marriage difficulty?
The only reason a marriage needs to break up is that either you or your mate, or both, have become so completely convinced that you are right, that you are blind to the fact that there is a Greater Rightness–God and God’s Order–which has more Knowledge than either one of you.

The first step to solving any marriage difficulty is one of the core secrets in the book: “You are DUST.” You are the stuff that accumulates on windowsills. It is only God’s “Nishmat chayyim,” living breath, that makes you human.

Put your egos in the right scheme of things. Sub-ordinate to God and God’s Order. Only then can you even begin to solve your marriage problems! Once you do God will open the door and show you how!

The following is a letter sent by Rabbi Michael Shevack to Fr Giussani
Dear Fr Giussani,
Please find a copy of my book, Adam & Eve. Marriage Secrets from the Garden of Eden. Amongst the many acknowledgements, you will find yourself and Communion and Liberation.

The ancient rabbis and kabbalists both affirmed that it is upon a sacred marriage of men and women, one in which they are aligned to the Order of Creation, that the entire future of the world depends, thus a sacrament.
Before writing this book, I prayed, “Lord, please allow me to write this book in a way that brings everyone together. Let its words be universal, and fall correctly upon the ears of Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Protestants,even contemporary-pagan “New Agers.” There is only One Truth, and let this book sing that.”

My prayers, it seems, were answered, as the book was published by Paulist Press, and has been receiving kind words from every single religious organization and spiritual group in the United States. I consider this a “segno”[sign] that all of us can truly be what we already are, One.

You will particularly notice Marriage Secret no 3, “Be Totally Dependent Upon Each Other,” to which I am indebted to The Religious Sense for; for it is from dependency that the spiritual ascent to God begins.

God willing, this book will be received in many different countries around the world, because in an era where 50% of all marriages end in divorce, couples need help. Thank you for being a light to the healing of Jews and “the Other Israel.” Thank you for your inspiration in writing this book.

Warm regards,
R Michael Shevack