Our Gemara discusses the difference between two kinds of fields, the Beis Hashalachim and the Beis HaBaal.  The Beis Hashalachim relies on irrigation, while the Beis HaBaal relies on rain water.  The Gemara delves into the etymology of the term Beis HaBaal and how it connotes an established field that maintains itself.  A verse is quoted in from Yeshayahu (62:5)

כִּֽי־יִבְעַ֤ל בָּחוּר֙ בְּתוּלָ֔ה יִבְעָל֖וּךְ בָּנָ֑יִךְ וּמְשׂ֤וֹשׂ חָתָן֙ עַל־כַּלָּ֔ה יָשִׂ֥ישׂ עָלַ֖יִךְ אֱלֹקיִךְ׃

⁦As a youth is intimate with a maiden, Your sons a shall join you;

And as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, So will your God rejoice over you.

The Gemara says you see from there that the concept of marriage and “Baalus” connotes settlement and permanence in the land, which is to say a field that can subsist on rain water instead of a high maintenance field that requires irrigation.

Now, the rabbis were interested in a scriptural support for what they knew to be true as the definition of the Beis HaBaal.  However, like many aggados or asmachtos, they are not actually meant to be completely linguistically or historically accurate.  Instead, they are considered as hints. (See for example, Rambam’s discussion of the four species and also al tikri in Moreh III: 43.)

The actual etymology of Bais HaBaal is probably from Canaanite mythology, as they believed that every year Baal caused it to rain and thus fertilized the Earth, as a husband does with his wife. Hence a field that subsisted on rainwater was, literally, a field of Baal.  Now before you call me an apikores please consider that Ramban (Bereishis 45:12) tells us that the language of the Canaanites was l’shon kodesh.  Yes, the Canaanites, not the Jews. He actually suggests the Avos spoke Aramaic.  In any case, it is not so scandalous then to consider this obvious etymological truth, as the term in Hebrew predated our use of Hebrew, and is vestigial from the Canaanites.

Of course, once we have progressed beyond our original idolatrous roots (as stated in the Hagaddah, our forefathers worshipped idols), we make a psychological advancement. We no longer celebrate the seasons as the Canaanites did, by some mythological drama between Baal and Ashtoreth, but we see God Himself directly providing us with rain. As stated in Pirke Derebbi Eliezer 5:5

⁦But when the Holy One, blessed be He, desires to bless the produce of the earth, and to give provision to the creatures, He opens the good treasuries in heaven and sends rain upon the earth, namely, the fructifying rain, and forthwith the earth becomes fruitful like a bride who conceives from her first husband and produces offspring of blessing, as it is said, "The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasury the heaven" (Deut. 28:12).

The actual archetype of the rains coming to fertilize the ground, like the union between husband and wife, is preserved but elevated into an intimate relationship with God.  This supports the Rambam’s opinion in the Moreh that though the laws and details of the sacrifices took on the significance of divine commandments, God did this as a kindness to allow for a mode of worship that people were already used to via idolatry (see Moreh III:32).

While we are on the topic of this verse, Maor Eynayim Menachem Nachum Mi-Cherynoble (of which I am proud to be a descendant, Ki Sisah 5, vayiten el Moshe), understands this verse in a beautiful way. The verse compares God’s renewal of His relationship with the Jewish people as the newness between a bride and groom.  Rav Menachem Nachum says that the key point of the love between a groom and bride is the sense of newness. We are thus called upon to see our relationship with the Torah with newness every day.  

I think this is the key to a great relationship with Hashem and your spouse. We must approach our experiences and encounters with a sense of wonder, mystery and curiosity.  When we relate in that manner we are bound to be delighted in the new things we discover, as a bride and groom.


For Video versions of this click here, and look for title and daf.  

Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation cool.)