It is customary on Rosh Hashanah to extend greetings and felicitations to one another. In addition to the traditional greeting of “K’sivah vachasimah tovah” — “May you be written up and inscribed for a good year” — I think it is also appropriate for us to wish each other a hearty Mazel Tov. The reason is that on the first Rosh Hashanah a great wedding took place. Adam was introduced by Hashem to Chavah, and they immediately got married. If not for that wedding, we would not be here today, and thus we are all ba’alei simchah — part of this great joyous event.

Let me introduce you to this young couple, and share with you some insights concerning their married life. Adam the chatan was the most handsome man that ever lived. In describing the beauty of the Talmudic sage Rav Avuhu, the Gemara (Bava Metzia 84a) says that his beauty was “mei’ein” — somewhat similar — to that of the patriarch Yaakov, and the beauty of the patriarch Yaakov was somewhat similar to the beauty of Adam. The Gemara (Megillah 15a) says that the matriarch Sarah was one of the four most beautiful women in the world, and the Gemara (Bava Batra 58a) also says that Sarah compared to Chavah was like a monkey compared to a human. Thus, Chavah was the most beautiful woman in the world who ever lived.

Their wedding was very elaborate, and the one who adorned her like a kallah and led herdown the aisle to meet thechatan was no one else but Hashem (Midrash Rabbah Bereishit 18:1). The young couple, after the wedding took up the most exclusive residence. They lived in the Garden of Eden. Since the whole world was at their disposal, they could easily be considered the richest couple that every lived.

Not having a mother to teach her how to prepare meals, Chavah was now faced with her first task — to prepare a repast for her newly married husband. Like any young wife, she undoubtedly sought to prepare some delicacy for him which would soothe his palate and enhance his admiration of her. So she went out shopping in the Garden and met a member of the animal world, “Mr. Serpent.” They got into a conversation and he advised her that she could make an excellent meal for her husband from the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge. To be extra sure she first tried it on herself, and being convinced that it was very tasty, she gave also to her husband and together they enjoyed the food.

Suddenly they heard the voice of Hashem, and Adam realized that he committed an iniquity. In the beginning he tried to blame it on his wife, but it was to no avail. Hashem held him responsible and expelled him from his exquisite residence, the Garden of Eden, and he and all humanity suffered the consequences of this sin to this very day.

In today’s society, what do you think would have happened if such an incident took place? Considering the staggering statistics of broken marriages and high divorce rates, I think they would have immediately gotten divorced. After all, if on the first day of their marriage she had already affected him negatively, what kind of future could Adam anticipate having together with her? Perhaps many a modern day marriage counselor would consider divorce appropriate and encourage it in order to nip any trouble in the bud before they become entangled with any children they may bring to the world.

Is this what Adam did? The answer is no. Not only did Adam not divorce Chavah, but they remained married for many hundreds of years afterwards.

What, you may ask, helped Adam to make his decision?

Immediately after the episode, the Torah tells us, “Veha’Adam yada et Chavah ishto” — “And the man had known his wife Chavah [and she conceived and bore Kayin].” According to the commentaries, “yada” is in the past-perfect and is telling us that the conception and birth of Kayin had occurred before the sin and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. However, according to p’shuto shel mikra — the simple reading of the Torah — this is a part of the sequence of events.

The word “yada” can mean “understood.” Adam knew his wife all the time, but now he gained insight about her. The Torah is telling us that immediately after their expulsion, Adam did not attack her or cast blame on her and become divorced, but Adam knew his wife and understood his wife. He knew that she was only human and understood that as a mortal being she could err. Thanks to this realization he remained on as her husband for many years, and together they brought children into this world and continued to develop the world into a comfortable place for mankind.

One of the reasons for the unfortunate quick dismantling of so many marriages is the lack of yada — the fact that the man does not want to understand that his wife is human, or that she does not want to understand that her husband is human. The ingredient for a happy marriage is “yada” — “understanding.”

On the subject of understanding, the Gemara (Nedarim 41a) says, “He who has understanding has everything in him, and he who does not have it in him, what is within him? He who acquires it, what does he lack, and he who has not acquired it, what has he acquired?”

When a couple set out to make a home, the Torah requires a mezuzah to be placed on the entrance. On the outside of the mezuzah is a shin (ש) which represents Hashem’s name of ש-ד-י, which, like the many different names of Hashem, denotes a phase of His many functions. According to the Kabbalists, this name is also an acrostic for the words "שומר דלתות ישראל" — “The protector of Jewish homes.” In addition to the spiritual powers of the mezuzah which bring protection and success to the home, I think there is also a very important lesson which the mezuzah constantly implies to the residents and those who enter into the home.

When a mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost, it is placed on a slant. The simple reason for this is that there is a difference of opinion in halachah whether the mezuzah should be affixed vertically or horizontally. To satisfy both opinions, a compromise is made by putting it on a slant (Yoreh Dei’ah 289:6).

Perhaps it can also be said that there is a homiletical message conveyed by affixing the mezuzah on a slant.

If one wants the home to be protected, if one wants the home to be long lasting, then everyone must bend a little bit. Bending means having understanding. If everyone wants to stand only upright and only understand themselves and not their partners, their home will not exist. If on the other hand, there is understanding and if one “bends” and is ready to make a compromise, the home will be blessed and long lasting.

It is customary at a wedding to give out souvenirs to the guests. I think the souvenir to best be remembered from Adam and Chavah’s first day of marriage is that their marriage lasted thanks to “yada” — the understanding of each other that they demonstrated. We and our children will be blessed with long and happy marriages if we always apply the important ingredient of “yada” — “understanding.”