The First Time You…

In the charming 1980 South African movie masterpiece, The Gods Must Be Crazy, the Kalahari bushman hero found an empty Coca Cola bottle dropped from his plane by a careless pilot.  No life experience or knowledge gained till now prepared Xi to understand the bottle’s purpose.  He couldn’t imagine its value other than as a magic talisman. 

In a similar way, no education or experience in the lives of many young men today prepares them to view a wife as anything other than an economic asset in an attractive package. They marry with a picture dancing in their minds of the larger house for whose mortgage they will now jointly qualify.  Understandably, they can’t imagine the magic of a marriage partnership in which each partner carries responsibility for a separate specialty just as in a successful business partnership.

Social media and occasional news articles reveal the existence of an informal association of women devoted to the homes and families of the husbands who happily support them.  These women, in the U.K., Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States gather beneath the banner of traditional wives and have assumed the hashtag #Tradwives.

Angry voices in mainstream media malign these women in terms so vituperative that you’d think traditional wives drank the blood of journalists.  You might have thought that feminism’s commitment to “choice” would praise these wives for making their own unconventional choice. Yet, they disparage these wives in the vilest ways going so far as to drum up today’s ultimate charge—racism.  Yes, these primitive and bigoted women are not only setting back women’s “progress” by decades, but they are obviously trying to have and raise more—that’s right—white children.

So shrill and incessant is the pervasive pounding of feminist propaganda that many men have been conditioned to barricade their brains against any traditional model of marriage.  To their detriment they have also been indoctrinated to the now common custom of eventually marrying the last of a long line of romantic entanglements.  What’s wrong with sowing your wild oats, as the saying goes?  What’s wrong with enjoying a sequence of sexual escapades and then marrying whomever is left standing when the music stops playing?

This is at odds with one of life’s realities. There is something indelibly memorable about firsts.  We don’t even need the innumerable books and studies attempting to explain why we humans remember so well our first car, date, foreign travel.  We know intuitively that we do remember the first of almost any significant experience far more strongly than any subsequent instance.  Many couples will, for years, commemorate the date they first met.  Indeed, a wedding anniversary is in reality, a commemoration of a first.

Though I tend to be skeptical about studies, one from the University of Sussex that recently caught my eye addressed how often people make themselves unhappy years down the road by comparing their marriages to their first loves.  One “expert” suggested that in order to avoid the problem of first love memories, people should avoid first loves and go straight to their second.  This is probably what author Jane Austen meant when in one of her little-known stories she has old Lady Williams advising young Alice, “Preserve yourself from a first love and you need not fear a second.”

Ancient Jewish wisdom offers a far more practical solution: marry your first love. This is not to suggest that you marry the first person you love. It is, instead, advising you to love for the first time the person you marry.  In other words, instead of indulging (emotionally and/or physically) in many short-lived intimate affairs, rather choose a careful courting that protects your heart and your soul.  That way, you can be married to your first love and live happily ever after without ghosts of former loves intruding.

Many people today fail to see the value of sharing your ‘first’ with your life partner because they often fail to understand the profound significance of firsts.  See how the Bible treats firsts.

The first of the first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God…
(Exodus 23:19)

And when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall set some aside as a gift to the Lord. From the first of your dough you shall set aside a loaf as a gift…
(Numbers 15:19-20)

The first of your corn, wine, and oil, and the first fleece of your sheep you shall give to him [the priest]. 
(Deuteronomy 18:4)

To a farmer, how his family lives depends upon the arrival of the annual harvest.  When all the produce has been gathered everyone feels the blessing of joyful relief.  Thus, the first of each year’s bounty is so sacred that he uses it to bond with God by sharing it with Him.

In each verse, the Hebrew word translated as  “first” is: reishit

ר  א  ש  י  ת

T   i   SH   ie   R 

 which also means beginning.  In fact, it is the very first word of the Bible—B’REISHIT –in the beginning. 

ב   ר  א  ש  י  ת

T   i   SH   ie   R  B

The very first cause of all reality is God.

The Bible uses  that word REISHIT for both the first fruits and also for God starting off all reality for an important purpose.  It is to show us the source of that excitement we feel at the unforgettable firsts of our lives. That thrill we feet at a first flows from our subconscious realization that experiencing a first is another way of experiencing God.  Feeling a first is coming close to He the Founder of all Firsts.  How could anyone forget that?

Although I have piloted single engine aircraft for hundreds of hours in different countries, I have never forgotten the feeling of elation and disbelief that first time I lifted my PA-28 aircraft off the runway of a small South African airfield with nobody else aboard but me. I’d like to emphasize that I never threw a Coke bottle out of my airplane.

18 thoughts on “The First Time You…”

  1. dear rabbi daniel lapin.
    i personally believe their are generations of people who have not had aniceint wisdom teachings that have effected their children. with lack of knowledge and wisdom and bad envirements for verious reseans make wrong choses . getting married for the wrong reason only to be very unhappy and not wanting to hurt
    their children or any one else. they only exist some move on through devorce and some stay on. it does become a life of regrets when
    it should have been the best of the best in life. sincerly joan.

  2. I am in no way a feminist but I was still disappointed in your response to Carl. It seemed like a missed opportunity. What you both missed was what he said initially which is that “todays women are no better than men”. Promiscuity in our society was practiced by males long before it was acceptable in female circles. What men forget is that they are our leaders and we eventually tend to follow their behavior. Women grew tired of marrying men as virgins only to discover that their husbands had already dirtied up those waters. It’s a blow to every young wife to look up to her beloved “first love” only to find out that she is number 15 to him. It’s my belief that if men held up their own virginity as important to them women would soon follow their example. It’s actually not easy for a woman to “sleep around” and they often have to be intoxicated in order to force themselves to do it….. at first. Soon afterwards they feel and act like doormats. No woman likes feeling like a doormat. If young men were chaste leaders they would attract chaste followers. It means just as much and maybe even more to a woman to be “his first love”.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      This is a very thoughtful letter, Lisa,
      And it contains a great deal of truth. I think my response belongs on a podcast soon because I have discussed this topic but your point bears some focus. Thanks so much for taking the time to write

  3. Neweverymoment, Deb:
    I have been blessed with two long, happy marriages, both ending when my older mate sickened and died on me. The relationships formed in totally different ways: one slowly, the other fast after amazingly different preparation. My first husband was a businessman and WWII war hero. My second husband was professor of philosophy and religion for 34 years. I joined with him in his work: he represented the only constructive postmodern philosophy, one that most people have never heard of (process thought). I would have happily continued either relationship, but today I realize that a third is an open possibility, with the same set of basic values. God has the last word!

  4. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of our first date April 15th. It’s an important date every year!

  5. Every Catholic girl needs a Rabbi. Thanks for feeding my soul, my friend! Great read.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Happy to be of service, Kristin,
      because everyone needs a rabbi regardless of their faith,
      and of course, those of no faith at all, well,
      they REALLY need a rabbi

  6. All of this is true. There is a dynamic at play, today, that casts the women in a light no better than the men. Without casting blame on any sex, this is the scene, today: Young women, being “strong independent women” are independent of men. Hence, they indulge their most fertile, attractive years, enjoying the attentions the highest status men. A large number of women sharing the studs, so to speak. When they can no longer compete, they settle for a much less sexually experienced “nice guy” (who they rejected in their twenties) , because they now focus on security, but deep down despise him, comparing him to their first (or many) more attractive lover (s). Their is no longer shaming of sexually promiscuous women.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Carl-
      You describe a sad sad saga and in the circumstances you depict, which I know does sometimes happen, the man should really think twice about marrying a woman with that history. I know this sentence I’ve just written will bring the wrath of the goddess of feminism crashing down onto my unprotected bald head.

      1. Thapelo Matseba

        Dear Rabbi

        Im a just wondering how relevant today’s teaching and the scriptures you referenced, relevant to the subject of Tithing?

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Dear Thapelo
          Very relevant! Your instinct was quite correct.

  7. No name please

    I was in need your advice on this subject a long time ago. Our culture is in desperate need of guidance in this area. Vulnerability (a.k.a. trust) is an unavoidable component of love. My ‘first’ ‘love’ turned out to be someone who was in search of a ‘tool’ to use while passing time waiting for another ‘friend’ to return affection. I was, in chronological terms, an adult well out of college. Although I am fortunate not to have pledged my life to this person, still broken from that foray I find myself 60 years old, unable to trust another human being in any capacity. It is aptly named a loss innocence. First fruits.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Sadly, the greatest tribute to the timeless truth of ancient Jewish wisdom is the number of people who write to me asking “Where were you when I really could have used your information to avoid some of my life tragedies?” Best thing to do now is try influence younger people in your orbit not to wait till it is so late before learning how the world REALLY works.

  8. This is an eye-opening education for me! I’m sixty eight years old, and currently unmarried. I’m ordering the two books for my newly married daughter. I want her to be the wife and mother God created her to be.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Samuel–
      Thank you for writing and congratulations on your daughter’s marriage. I very much hope she married a knight and not a knave. If so, he’ll be worthy of what she can make of herself and their home.

  9. Another beaut,Rabbi Daniel Lapin,
    thank you so much.For too long,I foolishly dwelt upon my first love, carried over from my tender teens but with a dwindling residue always
    there,never quite disappearing from my life.My ex-wife and I have been firm friends for some time now,which is nice.But today,
    reading your Ancient Biblical wisdom,I feel the dawn of something new has come alive.

    God Bless you,Rabbi.

    P.S. I,too, lived in RSA,Kempton Park, for several years before fleeing back to the UK,when things got VERY dangerous for my family.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you, Roderick,
      I am so happy to know that this Thought Tool helped make you feel the dawn of something new. I hope that dawn brightens into a brilliantly incandescent noon day sun and lights up every corner of your life.
      P.S. I remember Kempton Park well. I’ve been gone for a long time.

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