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In Christian philosophy, many ancient philosophers such as Aquinas and Augustine speak about the "good of marriage." Marriage is "good", they argue, because it leads to offspring, chastity and permanence. See here for a lengthy article on the topic.

What is the "good of marriage" in Jewish thought?

Perhaps according to the Rosh, who doesn't view kiddushin as a Mitzvah, marriage has no inherent "good." The "good," rather, is external, since kiddushin is just one way to lead to the goal of having children. But, according to Rambam, who views kiddushin as an independent Mitzvah, what "good" does he believe exists in it?

  • I'm not sure I understand the question. By "inherent" do you mean teleologically? How does being or not being a mitzva relate to that exactly? – WAF May 9 '18 at 19:12
  • @WAF yes, I do mean teleologically. I think that being a mitzvah matters because if kiddushin is a marriage, it has its own desideratum, unlike Rosh, who thinks that marriage itself has no end. It is merely a facilitator for rearing children. – Bochur613 May 9 '18 at 19:16
  • According to the Rambam, if nothing else there’s a good in that it’s a Mitzvah. – DonielF May 9 '18 at 19:20
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    See at length in R Aharon Lichtenstein's "Of Marriage: Relationship and Relations" – Double AA May 9 '18 at 19:23
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    "Lo TOV for a person to be alone" I shall give him a wife, says Gcd in Genesis - I guess the good of marriage is not being lonely according to the Creator. – Danny Schoemann May 10 '18 at 9:08
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Mishlei (Proverbs) 18:22

מצא אשה מצא טוב ויפק רצון מיהוה

Loose translation:

One who finds a woman finds good and he will produce (good) will from G-d.

From what I'm reading in Ibn Ezra, it seems that @DannySchoemann is on the right idea. He says that by marrying, he fulfills the desire that man should not be alone. By doing this, he wins G-d's good favor because he fulfilled what G-d commanded of him.

Ralba"g has a similar theme but adds that when a woman loves her husband and puts all her energy to servicing him, he is able to realize and fulfill his maximum potential.

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A good question,

  1. We need to define the "absolute good" first. If we agree that Hashem has created this world for some purpose, "good" would be whatever leads to this purpose and "bad" is whatever takes us away from it. This is totally objective (good for Hashem), not subjective, as their thinkers hold - "good is whatever I think is good for me".

  2. When Hashem commands us a Mitzvah, we know de-jure it is good, because it serves the purpose of the creation as Hashem sees it, whether we like it or not. So He clearly said "לא טוב היות האדם לבדו", meaning staying alone does not serve the purpose of this world, and the opposite is true - staying in some kind of a relationship serves it.

  3. It should be clear that from His point of view anything could be defined as "good" or "bad", theft, murder, homosexualism - it is absolutely arbitrary from our point. A the language of Safra (Vayikra 20,26):

"ר' אלעזר בן עזריה אומר מנין שלא יאמר אדם "אי אפשי ללבוש שעטנז. אי אפשי לאכול בשר חזיר. אי אפשי לבוא על הערוה" אבל "אפשי ומה אעשה ואבי שבשמים גזר עלי"

  1. About marriage specifically (as opposed to friendship or other forms of relations) it is not לכתחילה (אדה"ר לפני החטא) but after the man sinned, marriage was set as the standard for this kind of partnership (as a תיקון). It will probably cease to exist after the world returns to the original state.

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