Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Ki Seitzai) Peace and Blessings at Home
A person once confided to a friend that his marriage had become a bit strained. His friend advised him to seek marriage counseling, which he refused to entertain. His friend then recommended that he go to the great and pious Rabbi Yaacov Yisroel Kanievsky, the Steipler Rav o.b.m. to seek his sagely wisdom and blessing. He agreed to this suggestion.
Upon entering the study of the elderly and holy man and seeing him poring over the Talmud, the petitioner had second thoughts about his decision. ‘Was this sage the right person to present my marital problems? What would a man who is so removed from ‘reality’ know about the intricacies of marriage?’
Before he had a chance to reconsider, the sage looked up and welcomed him in. The man began describing the dire situation at home. The sage listened intently, and responded with a single question. “When was the last time you gave your wife a gift?” “It is well over a year if not two,” the man responded. “Go out and buy her a gift and show your appreciation for all that she does for you, your children and the household, and you’ll see that Sholom – peace will be restored”
It’s been many years since this person heeded the simple and insightful advice of the sage and he attests that since then shalom and tranquility has reigned in his home.
Shalom Bayis, peace and tranquility in one’s home does not happen by itself, it requires a continuous and lifelong effort on the part of both husband and wife.
A peaceful home is one of the main virtues of a Jewish home. Our sages tell us that a husband is to love his wife as much as himself, and respect, treat and honor her even more than himself. Furthermore, the Talmud teaches us that the woman of the home accounts for the blessings that come into the home.
The Torah commands us to take heed and not cause pain to others through the use of harsh words. The Talmud warns us that because of the familiarity that exists between couples, insensitive and painful comments and words may be more easily used - which can cause great pain and can result in serious consequences. It is an area where couples must be extra careful in relating to each other.
Our sages tell us that when Shalom exists between a husband and wife, the home becomes a welcome abode for the Shechina – the holy presence of G-d.
In the Parsha we read this week, the Torah instructs that during the first year of marriage a husband is not permitted to go to war. “He shall be free for his home for one year and he shall gladden his wife whom he has married.”
Rabainu Bechaya, a noted Kabalist, points out that coded within the Hebrew words - He shall be free to his home during the first year of marriage – is the special name of G-d. He explains: When G-d presented us with the Torah at Mount Sinai, which in certain ways is compared to a relationship between a groom and bride, we remained with G-d’s holy Presence at Mount Sinai for about a year and only then was the nation instructed to proceed traveling toward Israel. It was necessary for the beginnings of our nationhood and is necessary for the foundation of a couple embarking on marriage to have a year getting to know each other, and not being away from each other.
After the first year of marriage there is no rule preventing a husband from leaving to war or leaving for business pursuits, however, we may possibly say that the observance of the weekly Shabbos stands in its stead ascertaining that husband and wife benefit from being together uninterrupted for the entire holy day.
The Torah instructs us that we must a pay a hired worker on time. The Sfas Emes quotes the Ari Zal who points out that the acronym of the Hebrew words “On the day shall you pay his hire,” is Shabbos.
Shabbos is encoded in this law because although our ultimate reward for performing the will of the Almighty through His Mitzvos is reserved for a later time when we are in the World to Come, however, in regards to the experience of Shabbos which is a mode of the World to Come, the rewards for its observance is presented to us during the actual day of Shabbos, and the law, “On the day shall you pay his hire,” actually applies.
Shabbos is the source for all of our blessings!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks