Holding Hands

“Return us, our Father, to Your Torah.”

Eliana and Daniel had been married for a few years and their relationship was typically strong. One night, Eliana said something offensive to Daniel. Eliana had not intended to offend her husband, and she quickly realized how demeaning her comment was. Out of frustration, Daniel walked away from her and into the kitchen for some space; he felt the need to get away from her. Eliana knew that she needed to figure out how to correct the situation.

After giving Daniel a minute, Eliana followed Daniel into the kitchen and sat down next to him on one of the bar stools. They were both lost in thought of what had transpired, each staring into the distance. Although close in proximity, they felt as if they were worlds apart.

Early on in their marriage, they had developed a tool that has kept them stronger over the many years of their marriage. Like many couples, they have had their moments of challenge, but this tool has been a game-changer in their relationship.

Three months after standing under the chuppah together, they had their first argument. It wasn’t a terrible fight, but it had them thinking about their future. When they had married, they had committed for life. Their vision was one of friendship, trust, and love. Feelings of hurt and tension were looming in the house; neither of them wanted this “unwanted guest” to stay long. As a couple, with two minds in one direction, they sat down that evening to devise a plan. What would help them stay connected to one another even when things were rough?

There needed to be some system to bridge their divide even during challenging times. After some serious thought, they experienced a moment of enlightenment. A true “eureka” moment. If they ever found themselves in a rift or dispute, they would sit near each other and hold hands.

Mustering up the courage and weaving through the pain, Daniel extended his hand toward his wife. Their relationship was still tense, and Eliana knew that she had some mending to attend to, but she placed her hand in his. The silence continued for a few more minutes until finally they began to talk through the disagreement. With patience and courtesy for one another they were able to resolve their argument.

That’s all it was, as simple as holding hands, but over the years it had proven successful. The act of holding hands would remind them they were not enemies, adversaries, or even rivals, but a couple who cares for one another.

Shlomo HaMelech wrote the most poetic and romantic scroll called Shir Hashirim. He describes this deep love affair between Hashem and the Jewish people. The trick Daniel and Eliana employed can be found in Shir Hashirim. “...my Beloved sent forth His hand from the opening.”50 In describing a time where the Jewish people would rebel against Hashem, the imagery of an outstretched hand is used.

Shlomo HaMelech illustrates a picture of a hand reaching through a portal toward us. When we ask Hashem to “bring us back, our father,” this illustration is in our minds: the hand of Hashem, so to speak, extends toward us, and then we place our hand in His. Holding hands keeps us close to those whom we truly love. It is a reminder of our deep relationship with Hashem. This is a system to keep us close even during challenging times.

Excerpted with permission from Rabbi Tenenbaum's new book, Three Steps Forward, from Mosaica Press.