The institution of marriage is comprised of two integral elements: commitment and love. Beneath the chupah, the bride and groom pledge to remain faithful and loyal to each other; committing their all to bringing happiness and stability to their relationship. While the shared commitment constitutes the foundation of the relationship, it is the passion, love and feelings for each other which bring color and life to the relationship, and makes marriage so attractive. It is this latter element that causes bachelors to surrender their "freedoms," and bachelorettes to put up with a member of the remote-control-hogging, sensitivity-challenged gender.

Should love lead to commitment, or should commitment lead to love?The necessity of both these ingredients to ensure a happy and stable marriage is undisputed. Which of these two values should form the basis of marriage, however, is a point of contention between Torah values and Western norms. Should love lead to commitment, or should commitment lead to love? The current societal trend in this area is clear. Get to know a person for a few years, perhaps live together for a period of time, and the plunge is taken if it is apparent that the mutual feelings warrant the colossal marriage commitment.

By contrast, Jewish tradition advocates an almost opposite approach. Acquaint yourself with an individual well enough to determine whether his/her values and temperament are in line with your own. Ascertain that your two personalities don't clash, and see that there is a budding attraction. If all these pieces are in place, then the commitment is made. The love will develop and deepen after the commitment. Based on the commitment.

If the "proof is in the pudding," this pudding certainly demonstrates that the Jewish approach works. It is clear that getting to know and love one another before marriage does not increase the odds of subsequently having a happy marriage.

This makes perfect sense. If the commitment is based on love, then the commitment can very well wane or disappear if and when the love fades or vanishes. If the love is based on a commitment, then even if at times the love grows faint, the commitment will ensure that the two make the effort to fall in love again.

According to Torah law, marriage is a two-step process. The first stage is called "kiddushin," and the second step is known as "nisu'in." Kiddushin renders the bride and groom full-fledged husband and wife. After this point, if, G‑d forbid, they decided to part ways, a "get" (Jewish divorce) would be required. However, the bride and groom are not permitted to live together as husband and wife until the second stage, the nisu'in, is completed. In modern times, both kiddushin and nisu'in are accomplished successively beneath the chupah: the kiddushin is effected when the groom gives the bride the wedding band, and the nisu'in through the husband uniting with the wife under one roof for the sake of marriage.

First comes the kiddushin — the commitment. Only then follows the nisu'in, and all expressions of love.

The recipe for a committed and happy marriage.

This holiday is symbolic of our nation's resiliency, our capacity to recover from all the tragedies which befall us.

On the 15th of Av, "Tu b'Av," we observe and celebrate a most joyous "bounce-back" holiday. This day marks the anniversary of several events, all of them associated with the reversal of a tragic event (see here for a brief description of these events). This holiday comes a mere six days after the saddest day of the year, Tisha b'Av, and is symbolic of our nation's resiliency, our capacity to recover from all the tragedies which befall us.

This is also a marriage-themed holiday; the Talmud describes how in ancient times this was a day devoted to matchmaking. This is because marriage represents the bounce back from the greatest tragedies which occurred on Tisha b'Av, the destruction of the Holy Temples and our people's ensuing bitter exile.

Our relationship with G‑d is also comprised of both basic elements, commitment and love. Before the love is manifest, we must first undergo the commitment stage, the kiddushin. Hence the destruction of the Temples and the exiles. But after 2,000 blood-stained years, we have now proven our commitment beyond any shadow of a doubt. It is now time for the nisu'in, the cosmic nisu'in between G‑d and His people which will be celebrated with the imminent arrival of Moshiach.