Ketubot 4 - 10
Guard Your Ears
How careful we must be regarding what enters our ears is stressed in these two statements of Tannaim cited in our gemara:
"Why is the entire ear formed from firm matter while only the lobe is soft? In order that if one hears something improper he should be able to fold the lobe into the ear and block out the sound."
"One should avoid allowing idle words to enter his ears because the ears are the first of all the parts of the body to become burned (they are the most susceptible to extreme temperature -- Rashi)."
Maharsha thus explains the connection between these two statements:
After first being warned about hearing forbidden words, we are cautioned to avoid hearing even things that are not forbidden but which have no positive purpose for serving Hashem through mitzvot. In this matter the sense of hearing is radically different from the other senses. Although it is certainly forbidden to see things that are forbidden as they can provoke improper thoughts, there is no need to avoid seeing neutral things, even if such viewing serves no positive purpose in mitzvah performance.
The reason for this distinction is that hearing is the most susceptible of all the senses, as forbidden words are so prevalent in human affairs. It is therefore necessary to exercise special discipline regarding our ears by blocking out even those neutral words, lest they lead to receiving improper communications as well.
The ear was therefore created in a manner which will bring home this concept of susceptibility. Whether it is the unprotected ear turning a painful red in freezing weather, or tingling in an overheated room, we are constantly reminded of how sensitive that part of the body is to external influences. This serves to remind us that the sense of hearing rooted in that ear is also susceptible to external influences, and that special caution must be exercised regarding what we hear.
A Second Look at Seven Blessings
The "sheva berachot" (seven blessings), which are said at a wedding and at the feasts of celebration during the following week, contain something for everyone, from the parties getting married to the people helping them celebrate. We here offer the observations of Rashi in regard to a few of those berachot.
The first beracha (at the chupah itself this blessing comes after the beracha on wine) is the praise of Hashem "Who created everything for His glory." This is not really a part of the ensuing order of berachot which deal with the institution of marriage itself. It is rather a tribute to those who have gathered to do kindness with the chatan and kallah (groom and bride) by celebrating their simcha. This is a glorification of the Creator because it reflects the role that He played in the first wedding in history when He took care of every detail to unite the first man and woman as a couple.
The final two berachot seem to have similar climaxes, one praising Hashem for "bringing joy to the chatan and the kallah," and the other for "bringing joy to the chatan with the kallah." The first of these deals not with the joy of marriage itself but is rather a prayer for the success, prosperity and happiness of both the chatan and kallah for all their days. Since each of them is being blessed our climax is "and." It is only in the final beracha that we praise Hashem for creating the special relationship of husband and wife through shared affection and joy. We therefore conclude this beracha with the term "chatan with the kallah" for it is this togetherness which Hashem has blessed with simcha.