08 Dec Marital Harmony Part 2
Last week, we were taking a look at the lives of our Patriarchs, Avraham and Yitzchak, to mine lessons in marital harmony from them. This week, we will take a look at the life of Yaakov Avinu, Jacob, our Forefather. We know that Yaakov had a legendary dream where he saw a vision of a ladder with angels going up and down upon it. The word ladder in Hebrew is sulom, which has the numerical gematria of 136. The Baal HaTurim teaches us that the word mamon, money, is also equal in gematria to 136. This teaches us that in finances Hashem causes people to rise and become rich and other people to descend and become poor.
The Chida adds a vital caveat to this lesson. He asks, Why did Yaakov have this dream at this particular juncture of his life? He answers that since Yaakov was setting out to get married, Hashem showed him this financial lesson since the success with one’s wealth is determined by one’s wife. This is based on a Gemora in Bava Mitzia: Ein bracha shruya b’soch beiso shel adam ela bishvil isto, she’ne’emar, ‘v’Avraham heitiv bavurah’ – Blessing is only found in a person’s home because of his wife, like it states, ‘And Hashem was good to Avraham because of her (Sarah, his wife.).’ Imagine that: with all of Avraham’s hospitality, with his passing the ten trials, he only received financial prosperity because of his wife.
The great Talmudist Rava was also a pulpit rabbi, the chief Rabbi of the wealthy port city of Mechuza. He announced from the pulpit the following request to his congregants. “B’matusa mi’neichu hokiru n’shaichu ki heichi d’tisasru – I beg of you: honor your wives in order that you should become wealthy.” Now, as a pulpit Rabbi myself, I have found this recommendation of Rava to be very peculiar. If I were giving a lecture on honoring one’s wife, I would say that it should be done in order to ensure the Shechina in the home, as it says, “Ish v’isha shalom beineihem, Shechina shruya beineihem – A husband and wife, if there is peace between them then the Shechina abides with them.” Or, I would say that they should strive to honor one another so that their children will do the same when they get married. For, in a world riddled with divorce, there is no better insurance than to model proper marital behavior to the children. I would also say that the key to happiness is peace at home, for Rashi teaches us in Parshas Bechukosai, “Im ein shalom, ein klum – If there’s no peace, there is nothing.” Finally, I would say that the husband should live up to the obligation which he pledged in the Kesuva-the Jewish marriage contract. There it states, “Ana eflach v’okir- I will work and honor her etc.” I wouldn’t have thought to headline that one should honor his wife in order to get rich!?
But, the great Rava was a realist. He knew that everyone wants to become wealthy. Shechina, children, happiness, pledges; they all sound good; Dollars and cents; that makes baalei batim listen. So Rava says, You want the greenbacks? You want the 100K? It’s all about honoring your wife. That is the incentive that we should hold before us when things get tough and tense in the home. In the merit of our strengthening the honor that we give to one another, may Hashem shower us with long life, good health, and all kinds of happiness.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles. Rabbi Weiss is currently stepping up his speaking engagements. To bring him to your community, call now 718.916.3100 or email RMMWSI@aol.com. To receive a weekly cassette tape or CD directly from Rabbi Weiss, please send a check to Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, P.O. Box 140726, Staten Island, NY 10314 or contact him at RMMWSI@aol.com.
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