Betrothed, Again

Every weekday, in the early morning prayers, we make a passionate declaration of fidelity. Surprisingly, the imagery employed is not of a bond between sovereign and subject, as might be expected from the context, but rather a relationship between two human lovers, painted in language so tender that it has been incorporated in the traditional wedding ceremony.

“And I will betroth you for ever; yes, I will betroth you in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion. And I will betroth you in faithfulness. And you will know H.”

Nevertheless, the selection of this passage is troubling, for the bulk of the book of Hosea — from which it is drawn — is devoted to the life of a prophet whose wife betrayed him repeatedly. The story of their dreadful marriage is generally understood as an allegory of the fractured covenant between God and Israel, of the rupture between the Divine and the individual. Read as such, the words seem to be more a ritual of mending that which is broken than the celebration of a fresh, new love.

We, like the wayward bride, often drift away from the singular, straight path, distracted by all the gaudy sideshows, and fail to note the insistent, beckoning call.

Betroth us again, H’! Lead us to that portal where past and future embrace, to a Now so brilliant that we can truly exclaim: You can know H’!

וְיָדַֽעַתְּ אֶת יְיָ

 Copyright © 2012, Jonathan Omer-Man