Resh Lakish

Kiddushin 7a ~ Does Marriage Make You Happier?

קידושין ז, א

אמר ריש לקיש: טב למיתב טן דו מלמיתב ארמלו

Resh Lakish said: It is better for a woman to live as tad du than to live alone...

In a 1975 lecture to the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi J.B. ("the Rav") Soloveitchik,  quoted the aphorism of Resh Lakish found in today's page of Talmud.  The Rav went on to explain that it was "based not upon sociological factors...[but] is a metaphysical curse rooted in the feminine personality. This is not a psychological fact; it is an existential fact." Wow.  Is this statement of Resh Lakish really an existential fact? To answer this, we need to first answer another question - what do his words actually mean?

One way to understand the aphorism is as follows:  "A widow would rather live in misery than live alone." But that's not the only translation, which depends on the exact meaning of the Aramaic phrase טן דו (tan du).  There are a number of possibilities.

Rashi

Let's start with Rashi and his explanation to our text:

בגופים שנים בעל ואשתו ואפילו אינו לה אלא לצוות בעלמא

Tan Du: Two bodies. A husband and wife; even if he is nothing more to her than company.

This explanation of Rashi's does not suggest that married misery is preferred over a single life. This is a slightly different explanation that Rashi gave in when we met this phrase in Yevamot.

טן דו - גוף שנים. משל הדיוט הוא, שהנשים אומרות טוב לשבת עם גוף שנים משבת אלמנה

Tan Du: Two bodies. This is a common maxim, for women say that it is better to live as two than to live alone.

So according to Rashi in both Yevamot and here in Kiddushin, Resh Lakish never addresses living in misery. He just made the observation that women prefer marriage over a single life.

JASTROW'S DICTIONARY

Not so Marcus Jastrow, whose dictionary (published 1886-1903) became a classic reference text for students of the Talmud. Jastrow translated טן דו as a load of grief, an unhappy married life. This will become very important later, so make note. 

THE SONCINO TRANSLATION

Moving on, the Soncino translation of Kiddushin (first published in 1966) echoes Jastrow's translation: "It is better to carry on living with trouble than to dwell in widowhood".  This is similar to the Soncino translation of the same phrase when found in Yevamot 118: "It is preferable to live in grief than to dwell in widowhood." However, a footnote to the text in Yevamot notes that "Levy compares it with the Pers., tandu, two persons." (The reference here is to Jacob Levy's  German Dictionary Chaldisches Worterbuch uber die Targumim - Aramic Dictionary of the Targums and a Large Part of Rabbinic Literature.) Why did Isidore Epstein, editor of the Soncino Talmud, choose to use Jastrow's translation over that of Levy - and that of Rashi? Answering that will take us too far off track, so we will leave it for another time... 

MELAMED'S ARAMAIC-HEBREW-ENGLISH DICTIONARY

Melamed's Aramaic-Hebrew-English Dictionary (Feldheim: Jerusalem 2005) follows Rashi : "טן דו = two bodies." 

THE ARTSCROLL TRANSLATION

The ArtScroll Schottenstein Talmud basis its translation on Rashi: "It is better to live as two together than to live alone." However a footnote (note 18) brings its meaning closer to that of Jastrow and the Soncino: "I.e it is better to be married  - even to a husband of mediocre stature - than to remain single." 

THE KOREN STEINSALTZ TRANSLATION

In his Hebrew translation of the Aramaic text found in Yevamot 118, Rabbi Steinsaltz follows Rashi, and translates  טן דו as "two bodies." A side note points out that the true origin of the phrase is not known, though it likely comes from Persian.

The newer English Koren Talmud follows the same translation: "It is better to sit as two bodies, ie., to be married, than to sit alone like as a widow. A woman prefers the any type of husband to being alone."  Elsewhere in the Koren series, (Yevamot 118a) there is a note, (written by Dr. Shai Secunda), which is more definitive than the Hebrew note. Tan Du is from middle Persian, meaning together.  It's nothing to do with being miserable.

TESHUVOT HAGE'ONIM

I've left perhaps the strongest textual witness for last: how the words Tan Du were understood during the period of the Geonim (c. 589-1038). In 1887 Avraham Harkavy published a collection of responsa from this period that he found in manuscripts held in the great library of St. Petersburg. In this collection is a reference to our mysterious words:

  טן דו בלשון פרסי שני בני אדם. ארמלו יחידות 

טן דו in Persian means two people. ארמלו means alone.

Chronologically, this is our earliest source, and, therefore, perhaps our most compelling. Case closed.

VARIATIONS OF THE RESH LAKISH RULE

So far we have the following four versions of what we will now call the Resh Lakish Rule:

It's better for a woman to be...

  • ....married and unhappy than single  (Jastrow)
  • ...in a less desirable or mediocre marriage than no marriage at all (ArtScroll footnote).
  • ...miserable and married than to be a widow (Soncino).
  • ...with a husband than to be alone (ArtScroll, Koren, Melamed, Rashi, Teshuvot Hage'onim)

WHAT IF TAN DU MEANS MISERABLE?

It seems that the translation of  טן דו as miserable originated with Jastrow, and that those who translate Resh Lakish as saying "misery is better than being single" are following in the Jastrow tradition. If we were to evaluate the Resh Lakish Rule per Jastrow (and Soncino and an ArtScroll footnote), the question is, what, precisely, constitutes  a "miserable marriage"? One in which the woman feels physically safe but emotionally alone? One in which her husband loves her dearly but is  unable to provide for her financially? Or one in which she has all the money she needs but her husband is an alcoholic? Tolstoy has taught us that each unhappy family (and presumably each miserable marriage) is unhappy in its own unique way. The point here is not to rank which is worse. 

[In the 1950s, a] bad marriage was usually a better option for a woman, especially if she had a child, than no marriage at all.
— Stephanie Coontz. Marriage, A History.Viking 2005. p288

Today it would be utterly silly (and incredibly rude and insulting) to suggest that a woman is better off miserable than single.  But after our review, that does not appear to be what Resh Lakish ever said.  What he really said was this: a woman would be better off (טב) married than living alone (as a widow). Resh Lakish didn't explain what he meant by better off, so we will have to assume that what he meant was a measure of overall well-being, or what we call... happiness. What we want to know, is how this understanding of Resh Lakish stands up today. Was the Rav correct when he called this "an existential fact"?

MEASURING HAPPINESS & HAPPINESS INEQUALITY

Happiness inequality exists and has been well documented. University of Pennsylvania economists Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, (who live together, but not within the bonds of marriage), note that

“...the rich are typically happier than the poor; the educated are happier than those with less education; whites are happier than blacks; those who are married are happier than those who are not; and women—at least historically—have been happier than men.”

But why is this so? Don't we all oscillate around a set point of happiness, regardless of what life may throw at us? Some psychologists think so.

LOTTERY WINNERS & ACCIDENT VICTIMS: THE SET POINT THEORY OF HAPPINESS

According to the set point theory of happiness, we all revolve around our own, innate happiness point. When we are faced with adversity, we do, to be sure, become sadder. But we eventually bounce back to where we were before, back at our set point. Similarly, when met with some good mazal, we are, for a period, more happy. But then we return to our innate set point for happiness, wherever that was prior to the good fortune. The evidence for this comes from a classic study which found that "lottery winners were not much happier than controls" and that accident victims who were paralyzed "did not appear nearly as unhappy as might have been expected." (The problem is that this study used a tiny sample - there were only 22 lottery winners and 29 paralyzed accident victims - so we need to be very cautious in generalizing from it.) 

Married people are – on average – happier than those who are single, but perhaps this fact does not suggest causation. Some would argue that it's just a correlation. A grumpy person, unable to hold down a job and miserable to be around, is not likely to find another individual willing to marry him. So it’s not that marriage makes you happier –it’s that happier people are more likely to find a partner and get married. According to this set point theory of happiness, the Resh Lakish Rule would not be supported, since the act of marrying would have no overall long-term effect on happiness.

THE MORE IS BETTER THEORY OF HAPPINESS

However, evidence from a 15 year longitudinal study of 24,000 people suggests that "marital transitions can be associated with long-lasting changes in satisfaction."  This would support the claim that marriage is causally related to happiness. It's not that you went from being a happy person who was once single to being a similarly happy person who is now married. What actually happened was that the marriage had an effect on just how happy you became.  And data from other large cohort studies show that happiness increases when people marry. Just look at the happiness of women by marital status in the figure below. Was Resh Lakish onto something?

Mean happiness of women by marital status, birth cohort of 1953-1972, from ages 18-19 and 28-29. From Easterlin, RA.  Explaining Happiness .   Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences   2003. 100 (19): 11176-11183.

Mean happiness of women by marital status, birth cohort of 1953-1972, from ages 18-19 and 28-29. From Easterlin, RA. Explaining HappinessProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2003. 100 (19): 11176-11183.

All this supports the Resh Lakish Rule that people are happier when they are married. (I say people because all the evidence applies equally to men too.) But we can get even more specific, because Resh Lakish used the word ארמלא, which most likely means widowed (and hence has a secondary meaning of being alone). There is actually data that applies to this more specific Resh Lakish claim about widows, and it comes from The Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. 

From    Economics and Happiness   , ed Bruni L. Oxford University Press 2005.

From Economics and Happiness, ed Bruni L. Oxford University Press 2005.

As shown in the table, 62% of women who are widowed want to be happily married.  (Of course this also means that about 40% of widowed women would rather not be married -  even happily. That’s a huge proportion. Still, the overall finding still supports the Resh Lakish Rule.) The women's perspective is the most important perspective in this conversation, and when women (widows) were asked, most wanted to be married again. Widows indeed wish to live as two rather than live alone. I don't think this amounts to anything like an existential fact, as claimed by the Rav. But the evidence from the social sciences would certainly support the Resh Lakish Rule.

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Ketuvot 8b ~ When Some Plagues End, and Others Begin

 כתובות דף ח עמוד ב 

 רבון העולמים, פדה והצל, מלט, הושע עמך ישראל מן הדבר ומן החרב ומן הביזה, ומן השדפון ומן הירקון, ומכל מיני פורעניות המתרגשות ובאות לעולם, טרם נקרא ואתה תענה, ברוך אתה עוצר המגפה

Master of the worlds, redeem and save, deliver and help your nation Israel from pestilence, and from the sword, and from plundering, from the plagues of wind blast and mildew [that destroy the crops], and from all types of misfortunes that may break out and come into the world. Before we call, you answer. Blessed are You, who ends the plague.

In today's Daf Yomi, the secretary of Resh Lakish, a man by called Yehuda bar Nachmani, offers four blessings that may be said as part of the meal eaten at a house of mourning. Although the fourth blessing, "Who ends the plague" (עוצר המגפה) is not said usually today, we do have a tradition of giving thanks when a plague comes to an end.

The Prayer of Thanks After the Cholera Epidemic in London, 1850 

In the nineteenth century, London was ravaged by a series of brief but intense cholera epidemics that killed hundreds at a time in a matter of days. The infectious agent, we know today, was Vibrio Cholerae. If it finds its way into your intestine, its toxin will cause the cells of your gut to excrete water at a remarkable rate. The result is overwhelming dehydration, and death may follow in a matter of hours. (Water-borne cholera epidemics are still common. After the 2012 Haitian earthquake over 4,000 people died from it. That's 4,000 people who survived the earthquake itself, only to die from drinking water that was infected with cholera.)

Like all epidemics, cholera flares up and then disappears, even when no effective medical interventions are available.  It was when one of these devastating outbreaks of cholera had ended, that the Jews of London came together to do what Resh Lakish described. On Nov 1, 1850, they offered a prayer of thanks at the cessation of the plague of cholera.

 

 ידך היתה בבני ארצנו בחלי–רע לאין מרפא רבים חללים הפיל עד שאיש נבוב חת לקול אמות דפק על פתחו וחיל אחז אמין לב בגבורים. אך חנון ירחום אתה, לא לעולם תזנח ולא לנצח תטור אם הבאבת תחבוש, ואם תמחץ ידיך תרפינה. שלחת רוחך ותחלימנו צוית והמגפה נעצרה  

 

 

Your hand lay heavily on the inhabitants of this land. Cholera struck many down. The strongest heart trembled at the voice of death sounding at the threshold, and the boldest among the mighty were seized with terror and anguish. But gracious and and merciful are You; Your wrath does not last long, nor does Your anger last for ever. You strike some and heal. You wound but it is Your hand which prepares the calm. In the depths of our terror and affliction You sent Your spirit and there was a pause. You commanded, and the Plague ceased...
— Service of Thanksgiving on the Cessation of the Cholera, London, Nov 1850.

Why did the cholera epidemic end so quickly? There is, of course a scientific explanation:

[I]t's possible that the V. Cholerae's dramatic reproductive success...had been the agent of its own demise...it quickly burned through its primary fuel supply. There weren't enough small intestines to colonize....It's also possible that the Vibrio cholerae had not been able to survive more than a few days in the well water... With no sunlight penetrating the well, the water would have been free of plankton, and so the bacteria that didn't escape might have slowly starved to death in the the dark, twenty feet below street level...But the most likely scenario is that the bacterium was itself in a life-or-death struggle with another organism: a viral phage that exploits V. cholerae for its own reproductive ends the way V. cholerae exploits the human small intestine. One phage injected into a bacterial cell yields about a hundred new viral particles, and kills the bacterium in the process. After several days of that replication, the population of V. cholerae might have been replaced by phages that were harmless to humans. (Steven Johnson, The Ghost Map, 152).

But this explanation lessens not one bit the religious impulse to give thanks.  

THE END OF ONE PLAGUE, THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER

In West Africa, the Ebola epidemic is slowly ending. Although there is neither an effective vaccine to prevent Ebola, nor an effective anti-viral to treat it, public health interventions have paid off, and life is slowly returning to normal.

Meanwhile, back in the US, another plague begins. This one, while far less lethal that Ebola, is all the more tragic; all the more tragic  because it is entirely preventable.  There have been more than 100 cases of measles in January alone (compared to about 600 for all of 2014), most of them linked to exposure in December at Disneyland in California.  I had the measles as a kid. If you were born before the 1970s, it's likely you've had it too. My aunt caught it when she was carrying my cousin, who was born deaf, the result of congenital measles infection.  Back then, there was no vaccine.  There is now.  And don't start with the autism-vaccination thing.  There is no link between autism and vaccination. None.  Yet in significant numbers, Jewish parents - and some of them educated, are refusing to vaccinate their children.  Vaccine denial is not limited to some haredi communities, (though in many cases their vaccination rates are remarkably  low).  It is seen in affluent neighborhoods with highly educated parents, where the vaccine denial movement has become a cult in which any and all scientific evidence is ignored. (And in an odd coincidence, see this op-ed in The New York Times.  Apparently, Jesus would have gotten the measles vaccine.)

In today's daf, the secretary of Resh Lakish offered a Prayer of Thanks when a plague ended. But precisely when did he say these words?  At a funeral. The funeral of a young child (ינוקא). The secretary of Resh Lakish offered these words of thanks at a child's funeral, and directed them towards "all Israel" (כנגד כל ישראל), that is, towards the survivors.  How ironic it is that it is the children who are most at risk in this measles epidemic. And how tragic that they face the complications of this illness (including pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, subacute sclerosing pan-encephalitis, and death,) because of the reckless behavior of their parents.

Risk factors of underutilization of childhood immunizations in ultra-orthodox populations.  From Muhsen K.  el at . Risk factors of underutilization of childhood immunizations in ultraorthodox Jewish communities in Israel despite high access to health care services.    Vaccine    2012. 30; 2109–2115

Risk factors of underutilization of childhood immunizations in ultra-orthodox populations. From Muhsen K. el at. Risk factors of underutilization of childhood immunizations in ultraorthodox Jewish communities in Israel despite high access to health care services. Vaccine 2012. 30; 2109–2115

Characteristics of parents who reported vaccine doubts . From Gust D.  et al.  Parents With Doubts About Vaccines: Which Vaccines and Reasons Why. Gust D. et al.    Pediatrics    2008;122: 718–725

Characteristics of parents who reported vaccine doubts. From Gust D. et al. Parents With Doubts About Vaccines: Which Vaccines and Reasons Why. Gust D. et al. Pediatrics 2008;122: 718–725

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Yevamot 118b ~ Does Marriage Make You Happier?

(אמר ריש לקיש: טב למיתב טן דו מלמיתב ארמלו. (יבמות דף קיח

Resh Lakish said: It is better for a woman to live as tan du than to live alone
— Yevamot 118b

In a 1975 lecture to the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi J.B. ("the Rav") Soloveitchik, quoted this aphorism of Resh Lakish found in today's Daf.  The Rav went on to explain that it was "based not upon sociological factors...[but] is a metaphysical curse rooted in the feminine personality. This is not a psychological fact; it is an existential fact." Wow.  Is this statement of Resh Lakish really an existential fact? To answer this, we need to first answer another question - what do his words actually mean?

One way to understand the aphorism is as follows:  "A widow would rather live in misery than live alone." But that's not the only translation, which depends on the exact meaning of the Aramaic phrase טן דו (tan du).  There are a number of possibilities.

Rashi

 Let's start with Rashi (and his explanation to the text in .כתובות דף עה).

טן דו - גוף שנים. משל הדיוט הוא, שהנשים אומרות טוב לשבת עם גוף שנים משבת אלמנה

Tan Du: Two bodies. This is a common maxim, for women say that it is better to live as two than to live alone

So according to Rashi, Resh Lakish never mentioned anything about living in misery. He just made the observation that women prefer marriage over a single life.

Jastrow's Dictionary

Not so Marcus Jastrow, whose dictionary (published 1886-1903) became a classic reference text for students of the Talmud. Jastrow translated טן דו as a load of grief, an unhappy married life. This will become very important later, so make note. 

The Soncino Translation

Moving on, the Soncino translation of the Yevamot (first published in 1936) echoes Jastrow's translation "It is preferable to live in grief than to dwell in widowhood." However, a footnote to the text notes that "Levy compares it with the Pers., tandu, two persons." (The reference here is to Jacob Levy's  German Dictionary Chaldisches Worterbuch uber die Targumim - Aramic Dictionary of the Targums and a Large Part of Rabbinic Literature.) Why did Isidore Epstein, editor of the Soncino Talmud, choose to use Jastrow's translation over that of Levy - and that of Rashi? Answering that will take us too far off track, so we will leave it for another time... 

Melamed's Aramaic-Hebrew-English Dictionary

Melamed's Aramaic-Hebrew-English Dictionary (Feldheim: Jerusalem 2005) follows Rashi : "טן דו = two bodies." 

The ArtScroll Translation

The ArtScroll Schottenstein Talmud basis its translation on Rashi, but adds a footnote that brings its meaning closer to that of Jastrow and the Soncino: "I.e a woman prefers even a less than desirable marriage over staying single." 

The Koren Steinsaltz Translation

In his Hebrew translation of the Aramaic text, Rabbi Steinsaltz follows Rashi, and translates  טן דו as "two bodies."A side note points out that the true origin of the phrase is not known, though it likely comes from Persian.

The newer English Koren Talmud follows the same translation: "It is better to sit as two [tan du] than to sit lonely as a widow, i.e., a woman prefers the companionship of any husband over being alone."  The note, (written by Dr. Shai Secunda), is more definitive than the Hebrew note. Tan Du is from middle Persian, meaning together.  It's nothing to do with being miserable.

Teshuvot Hage'onim

I've left perhaps the strongest textual witness for last: how the words Tan Du were understood during the period of the Geonim (c. 589-1038). In 1887 Avraham Harkavy published a collection of responsa from this period that he found in manuscripts held in the great library of St. Petersburg. In this collection is a reference to our mysterious words:

  טן דו בלשון פרסי שני בני אדם. ארמלו יחידות 

טן דו in Persian means two people. ארמלו means alone.

Chronologically, this is our earliest source, and, therefore, perhaps our most compelling. Case closed.

 

Variations of the Resh Lakish Rule

So far we have the following four versions of what we will now call the Resh Lakish Rule:

It's better for a woman to be...

....married and unhappy than single  (Jastrow)

...in a less desirable marriage than no marriage at all (ArtScroll footnote).

...miserable and married than to be a widow (Soncino).

...with a husband than to be alone (ArtScroll, Koren, Melamed, Rashi, Teshuvot Hage'onim)

What if Tan Du Means Miserable?

It seems that the translation of  טן דו as miserable originated with Jastrow, and that those who translate Resh Lakish as saying "misery is better than being single" are following in the Jastrow tradition. If we were to evaluate the Resh Lakish Rule per Jastrow (and Soncino and an ArtScroll footnote), the question is, what, precisely, constitutes  a "miserable marriage"? One in which the woman feels physically safe but emotionally alone? One in which her husband loves her dearly but is  unable to provide for her financially? Or one in which she has all the money she needs but her husband is an alcoholic? Tolstoy  has taught us that each unhappy family (and presumably each miserable marriage) is unhappy in its own unique way. The point here is not to rank which is worse. 

Today it would be utterly silly (and incredibly rude and insulting) to suggest that a woman is better off miserable than single.  But after our review, that does not appear to be what Resh Lakish ever said.  What he really said was this: a woman would be better off (טב) married than living alone (as a widow). Resh Lakish didn't explain what he meant by better off, so we will have to assume that what he meant was a measure of overall well-being, or what we call... happiness. What we want to know, is how this understanding of Resh Lakish stands up today. Was the Rav correct when he called this "an existential fact"?

Measuring Happiness & Happiness Inequality

Happiness inequality exists and has been well documented. University of Pennsylvania economists Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, (who live together, but not within the bonds of marriage), note that

“...the rich are typically happier than the poor; the educated are happier than those with less education; whites are happier than blacks; those who are married are happier than those who are not; and women—at least historically—have been happier than men.”

But why is this so? Don't we all oscillate around a set point of happiness, regardless of what life may throw at us? Some psychologists think so.

Lottery Winners & Accident Victims: The Set Point Theory of Happiness

According to the set point theory of happiness, we all revolve around our own, innate happiness point. When we are faced with adversity, we do, to be sure, become sadder. But we eventually bounce back to where we were before, back at our set point. Similarly, when met with some good mazal, we are, for a period, more happy. But then we return to our innate set point for happiness, wherever that was prior to the good fortune. The evidence for this comes from a classic study which found that "lottery winners were not much happier than controls" and that accident victims who were paralyzed "did not appear nearly as unhappy as might have been expected." (The problem is that this study used a tiny sample - there were only 22 lottery winners and 29 paralyzed accident victims - so we need to be very cautious in generalizing from it.) 

Married people are – on average – happier than those who are single, but perhaps this fact does not suggest causation. Some would argue that it's just a correlation. A grumpy person, unable to hold down a job and miserable to be around, is not likely to find another individual willing to marry him. So it’s not that marriage makes you happier –it’s that happier people are more likely to find a partner and get married. According to this set point theory of happiness, the Resh Lakish Rule would not be supported, since the act of marrying would have no overall long-term effect on happiness.

THE MORE IS BETTER THEORY OF HAPPINESS

However, evidence from a 15 year longitudinal study of 24,000 people suggests that "marital transitions can be associated with long-lasting changes in satisfaction."  This would support the claim that marriage is causally related to happiness. It's not that you went from being a happy person who was once single to being a similarly happy person who is now married. What actually happened was that the marriage had an effect on just how happy you became.  And data from other large cohort studies show that happiness increases when people marry. Just look at the happiness of women by marital status in the figure below. Was Resh Lakish onto something?

Mean happiness of women by marital status, birth cohort of 1953-1972, from ages 18-19 and 28-29. From Easterlin, RA.  Explaining Happiness .   Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences   2003. 100 (19): 11176-11183.

Mean happiness of women by marital status, birth cohort of 1953-1972, from ages 18-19 and 28-29. From Easterlin, RA. Explaining Happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2003. 100 (19): 11176-11183.

Remarriage has the same positive effect on happiness as a first marriage
— Richard Easterlin, Explaining Happiness

All this supports the Resh Lakish Rule that people are happier when they are married. (I say people because all the evidence applies equally to men too.) But we can get even more specific, because Resh Lakish used the word ארמלא, which most likely means widowed (and hence has a secondary meaning of being alone). There is actually data that applies to this more specific Resh Lakish claim about widows, and it comes from The Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. 

From   Economics and Happiness  , ed Bruni L. Oxford University Press 2005.

From Economics and Happiness, ed Bruni L. Oxford University Press 2005.

As shown in the table, 62% of women who are widowed want to be happily married.  (Of course this also means that about 40% of widowed women would rather not be married -  even happily. That’s a huge proportion. Still, the overall finding still supports the Resh Lakish Rule.) The women's perspective is the most important perspective in this conversation, and when women (widows)  were asked, most wanted to be married again. Widows indeed wish to live as two rather than live alone. I don't think this amounts to anything like an existential fact, as claimed by the Rav. But the evidence from the social sciences would certainly support the Resh Lakish Rule.

Free to call the tune, free to say if you’re gonna work or play
You can have the moon but you don’t have to have it night and day

Anyway, on your own with only you to concern yourself
Doesn’t mean you’re lonely, just that you’re free
Live and alone and like it, don’t come down from that tree

That’s the answer for me
That’s the answer for me
— Live Alone and Like It (From Dick Tracy), by Stephen Sondheim

   

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