Two spouses don’t seem to be able to relate to each other. Their values differ considerably; they don’t see the world the same way. Is their relationship doomed to failure? Is there anything they can do to strengthen the bond and enhance their closeness?

In order for the relationship to survive, they must engageIs their relationship doomed to failure? in a fundamental exercise before they can begin to compromise or negotiate. The most important step, the one that will allow all further growth to occur, is for each to accept that the other has a legitimate perspective.

This does not mean that anybody needs to abandon their own values or point of view. But each must practice “closing their eyes” to their own perspective, and, at least for a moment, learn how to see the other person’s reality. Then they can once again “open their eyes,” get in touch with their own mind and heart, and, over time, learn how the different, and occasionally opposing perspectives, can not only co-exist, but actually complement each other, leading to a far deeper and more interesting experience.

This is precisely what we do when we recite the Shema each morning and evening.

We are in a relationship with G‑d; He is the groom and we are His bride. But make no mistake, the honeymoon is over. There are differences between us, and those differences run deep. From G‑d’s perspective, the only thing worth pursuing is a connection to G‑dliness. He is the all-pervading reality. After all, the entire universe is dependent on His vitality for its very existence. Our perspective is different. As we see it, reality is the physical world from which we derive pleasure and joy.

In this week’s portion, Moses reviews the history of that relationship.

At first, we fell in love with G‑d’s perspective. At our wedding—Sinai—G‑d showed us a glimpse and in that moment we knew there was nothing else significant in the universe other than Him.1

But the wedding ended and as the excitement faded we realized how vastly different G‑d’s perspective is to our own. We wondered, is this relationship viable?

Moses has the answer. He tells us to cover our eyes twice a day and recite the Shema:

Hear, O Israel: The L‑rd is our G‑d; the L‑rd is one.

We close our eyes because we need to put our own perspectiveWe need to put our own perspective aside aside and acknowledge that although see not one Divine truth but a multiplicity of material needs and desires, there is another perspective. We acknowledge that we are able to close our eyes, remove ourselves—albeit momentarily—from our interpretation of reality, and appreciate that from the G‑d perspective there is nothing but Divine unity, and that the entire universe is but an expression of that truth.

And then we open our eyes, able to create a relationship that fuses the two. As Moses continues in the Shema:

And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.

Despite our differences, or rather, specifically because of our differences, we can experience a deep and meaningful relationship. We are able to connect the words of the Torah, the unity and love of G‑d, to our daily life. Our material pursuits are sanctified because we use them as a conduit for holiness. Our day-to-day tasks—when we walk on the road, lie down in the evening, rise in the morning, in the cities we create and the homes which we build—are imbued with spiritual meaning and Divine holiness.