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Friday, October 24, 2014

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Why buy flowers?

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Rabbi Yisroel Bernath

Whenever I think of a wedding of someone close, I think of the simple advice that my rabbi gave me before I got married.

He called me into his study, because he was going to share the secrets of a long-lasting relationship. I was excited, because I knew nothing about marriage, and quite honestly, I was pretty scared.

The rabbi leaned across the table and looked into my eyes, “Yisroel,” he smiled as his eyes widened, “it is a mitzvah to give your wife flowers before Shabbat, and that is the Jewish secret to a long-lasting, loving marriage.”

That’s it? That’s the secret? Really? But why?

I never really understood the whole women and flowers thing. Let’s be real here: the flowers are cut and are in the process of dying, and in a few days, she will throw them out.

At least a potted plant is alive and will last a little while if it’s taken care of.

So why flowers? Flowers are useless. They’re impractical and temporary, and they’re not an investment.

But that’s precisely their power. You buy them for no other reason than because your wife likes them. You do it just for her.

This is the very definition of romance – doing something pointless, just to express love. Nobody needs flowers. They won’t be around forever, but someone you love likes them, so you buy them. 


That’s why our relationship with God is so romantic. He needs nothing from us humans, and we won’t be around forever.

But He gets immense pleasure out of it when we do a mitzvah, an act that He has commanded. So we do it. Not for what we get out of it, and not for what He gets out of it, but just because He likes it.

The moment we do something that makes no sense to us, but makes our loved one happy, we have truly transcended ourselves and connected with someone else.

Stop thinking about yourself and think about her. That’s the power of the flower.

Rabbi Yisroel Bernath is spiritual director of the Monkland Jewish Centre – Chabad NDG and the Jewish chaplain at Concordia University in Montreal.

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