Miketz -Marriage Advice from a Righteous Man

In this week’s Torah portion of Miketz, Yosef HaTzadik names his first child Menashe. The Torah gives the reason behind the name: “And Yosef named the firstborn Menashe, for ‘G-D has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father’s house’” (Breishis 41:51).
The Rabbeinu Bachye observes that “based on this verse, Chazal (Bava Basra 12b) call the father’s house of one’s wife ‘Bei Nasa,’ meaning the forgotten house, based on the verse: ‘therefore a man should leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and be one flesh’ (Breishis 2:24),’ so to a wife with her husband.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
There are many interpretations given for this verse. The Rada”k says that the Torah did not mean to say that a man should leave his father and mother for his wife and not serve them and honor them as best as possible. Rather, , the meaning of the verse is  that one is supposed to leave his father and mother, who he lived with until he got married,  and cling to his wife and live with her in one house. The Ramban adds that one should view his wife as a closer relative than his parents. The Sforno says that since the first woman was intended by Hashem to be similar to man as much as possible, to the extent the He formed her from man’s body, it is therefore proper that every man should attempt to marry a woman suitable for him, fit to cleave to him. Due to the fact that it will be necessary to leave his father and mother, there can be no real cleaving between those who are not alike; that is why it is best to be like-minded. In all their actions they will aim to attain the perfection intended by the creation of man, as if the two were one flesh.

The Rabbeinu Bachye does not directly comment on this verse in the first portion of Breishis, but we can glean a whole new insight based on the fact that he quoted it to explain why Yosef named his firstborn Menashe. It would seem strange that Yosef could forgot his father or would even want to forget his father, one of our forefathers, one of the greatest people in the history of mankind, who loved him and favored him more than any of his brother. Indeed, he was his prime talmid [pupil] in Torah learning; why would he want to forget such an illustrious person?

Furthermore, we know that Yosef did not forget his father. For after Yosef revealed himself to his brothers and sent for Yaakov to come to Egypt, the Torah says: “And the children of Yisrael did as they were told and Yosef gave them wagons upon the orders of Pharaoh and he gave them food for the way” (Breishis 45:21). The Rabbeinu Bachye comments on that verse that Yosef sent a sign to Yaakov that we were separated from each other when you were teaching me the topic of eglah arufa. For this reason the Torah later says: ‘and he saw the agalot (wagons), and Yaakov’s spirit was rejuvenated…;”meaning, Yosef remembered exactly what he was learning with his father at the time  he was sold to Egypt over two decades ago! So what,  according to the Rabbeinu Bachye, does Yosef mean when he says: “G-D has caused me to forget… all my father’s house?”

We must say therefore that of course one does not need to forget his past, and in fact Yosef did not forget his.  But in order to have ultimate quintessential marriage, one must view him or herself as if he or she completely forgot their parents’ house when they enter into marriage, in order to build a new, more powerful relationship  with one’s spouse. The home they build should be focused on developing the relationship between them, creating a bond of unity between themselves and no one else.

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