Rav Avraham Chayim Shor, "Hashem deliberately instructed Moshe to speak separately to the women and the men, in order to teach us that the reward of one’s mitzvot is shared equally by husband and wife, for the two are in essence one entity" (Toras Chayim volume 1, chapter 8, Bava Basra 134 ד"ה לקיים).
[See Artscroll Chullin 84b, note 12 and Artscroll Pesachim 109a, note 11]
When it comes to household affairs - mundane matters - one should be led by his wife’s advice. Regarding religious matters, one should not be led by his wife’s advice (See ArtScroll Bava Metzia 59a, note 17 and 18). Obviously, a man should not reject advice from his wife.
What is a successful marriage? Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, also known as the Steipler Gaon says that hakaras hatov is a primary component of a successful marriage and it fosters true love. Therefore, Rabbi Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz says, “A husband should show hakaras hatov to his wife and a wife should show hakaras hatov to her husband.”
What is the definition of hakaras hatov? Rabbi Yisroel Reisman says, “Hakaras hatov is to feel gratitude by recognizing the good that someone has done on your behalf… The level of hakaras hatov one feels should be in proportion to the magnitude of the kindness rendered” (Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, page 318).
Hakaras hatov is not about who did more for whom. It is about honestly acknowledging what others have done on our behalf (Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, pages 342-343). Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler says, “The basis of true ahavas Hashem is hakaras hatov” (Michtav MeEliyahu, volume 1, Kuntress HaChessed).
Why did the Torah impose a set of legal responsibilities upon a husband towards his wife and vice versa?
Rabbi Yehudah Cahn says that the requirement to exert oneself on behalf of a spouse causes a person to feel a greater attachment to that spouse and to develop greater feelings of love and concern for him or her.
Rebbe Eliezer rules that even if a woman has a hundred servants, she must perform certain household chores for him. Otherwise, she will become idle. Idleness decreases that love and may, therefore, cause a husband or wife to lose interest in each other (Understanding Emunah, page 174)
What should a wife's outlook be towards her husband?
However, Rebbe Chiyah agrees that she must work and give her earnings to her husband in exchange for his supporting her (Artscroll Kesubos 59b, note 26).
Are Rebbe Chiyah and Rashi contradicting each other? Not in the slightest. When Rebbe Chiyah said that a wife must give her earnings to her husband in exchange for his supporting her, he’s telling her to be makir tov.
On the other hand, Rashi said that it’s not befitting for her to perform chores for him but for him to buy cosmetics and jewelry for her. He’s telling the husband, “Just because she has specific tasks that she has to do for you, don’t make it your expectation" (See Seven Common Myths about Marriage by Sara Debbie Gutfreund). Rather, he should be thinking to himself, “How can I possibly acknowledge all the good that she does for me?” By purchasing things that appeal to her: cosmetics and jewelry.
How essential is a man’s wife?
Meaning, if he is distressed, the following things will restore his composure (see ArtScroll Berachos 57b, note 38)
If a man is already composed, this will lift his spirits (ArtScroll Berachos 57b, note 40). One of them are a beautiful wife. Similarly, to what Rebbe Chiyah said earlier. This isn’t surprising.
Now in the future, when one’s wife is taking her time to get ready, realize she’s doing it for her husband’s sake. She’s also trying to fulfill “This is my G-d and I shall beautify Him.” Since she is created in the image of Him.
The Gemara is teaching us that a wife is the driving and motivating force behind her husband!
What should one’s outlook be towards one’s wife?
A wise man once said, “There is no ‘SM LE’ without ‘I’ and there is no ‘FR END’ without ‘I’, but I can’t achieve ‘S CCESS’ without ‘U’!” The “Gemara” expounds, “Do not read it as the letter ‘U’ but as the word You – referring to one’s wife.”
The Gemara says that a husband brings home raw materials - wheat, flax - and it is the wife who transforms those into finished products (The Chumash with the Teachings of the Talmud, Sefer Bereishis, page 24, A Helpmate).
What could this statement possibly mean nowadays?
Picture a man who comes home after a day’s work and finds the table set and supper ready on the stove. Does he stop to contemplate all the effort that went into making that supper? Would he perhaps appreciate it more if he were present as his wife took out her pots, pans and ingredients and began her work? (Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, page 12.)
Another explanation is that Hashem gave woman mastery of life’s details. A husband may formulate a grand plan that appears destined to succeed; his wife sees beyond the plan to the practical details (ArtScroll Yevamos 63a, note 12). The Gemara concludes that she is the one who illuminates her husband’s eyes and puts him on his feet (The Chumash with the Teachings of the Talmud, Sefer Bereishis, page 24, A Helpmate). Meaning, she enables him to see things beyond his natural perspective and she stands him on his feet by preventing him from tripping over some unseen stumbling block (ArtScroll Yevamos 63a, note 13) – that could be physically or spiritually.
Rabbi C. Schabes once commented, “You see from this verse, that women are always right.
This would certainly explain Jackie Mason, who says about himself, “Jews are afraid to laugh. They have to get permission from their wife first. If a gentile thinks I’m funny, he laughs; whereas, if a Jew thinks I’m funny, her looks at her: he’s funny, right?”
Where did man get this notion that he needed a helpmate? Hashem said, “It is not good that man be alone.”
Rabbi Frand says that just like we have metaphysics, so too, we have laws of spirituality. Meaning, once Hashem said that statement it became a reality.
What was his response? It wasn’t, “You’re right, I should have refrained and I’m responsible for my actions.” What did he actually say?
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says, “Calling attention to a minor fault of one’s wife is far more serious than speaking loshon hora about someone else” (Sefer Sichos Mussar, Chochmas Chaim).
How important is Sholom Bayis?
Shimon Yerushalmi relates the following story:
One year, the Chofeitz Chayim visited his rebbi during Chanukah. As the hour for candle-lighting approached, Reb Nachum’ke – Menachem Nachum Kaplan zt”l - pretended not to notice. As the hours slipped by, the Chofeitz Chayim stood astonished that his mentor did not proceed to light the candles on time. Just as he heard a knock at the door and his wife entered the house, Reb Nachum’ke proceeded to make the berachah and light the candles. Unable to contain his curiosity, the Chofeitz Chayim asked why his rebbi had delayed so long. Reb Nachum’ke answered: “The Gemara in Maseches Shabbos says that if one has only enough coins to pay for either Shabbos candles or Chanukah candles, he should purchase Shabbos candles for they instill peace in the home. I knew my wife would be hurt if I lit the Chanukah candles without her presence and since peace in the home is more important than Chanukah candles, I waited for her return” (To Be A Mentch by Yitzchak Shkop, page 214).
Now that we know the importance of Sholom Bayis, what does Sholom Bayis mean? A peaceful home.
What’s so vital about peace?
How to obtain a PEACEFUL marriage. Unfortunately, Dale Carnegie did not write a book on this subject. However, Rabbi Shafier recommends that both spouses need to turn off their “WII” FM station. What station is that? What’s In It For Me! Therefore, both spouses need to turn off their individual “WII” FM station and need to turn it on to their unified “WII” FU station - What’s In It For Us!
What is so unique about a bayis?
Rabbi Yitzchak Shkop says that this notion lies at the heart of the requirement that the Kohen Gadol have a wife prior to commencing the Yom Kippur service at the Beis HaMikdosh, for otherwise he would not be able to fulfill the Torah’s command: ‘and atone for himself and for his household:’ for our Sages explain that ‘his household’ is his wife (To Be A Mentch by Yitzchak Shkop, page 210).
Sometimes one’s business is running slow or his success rate is dropping. Rashi says that a wife, in the Torah, is referred to as “bread,” the symbol of one’s livelihood. This means, that success in one’s livelihood is dependent on how he treats his wife.
I guess a fringe benefit of marriage is getting wealthy. In addition, Rav Menachem Meiri or known as the Meiri says, “It is the wife who protects and preserves the household and that is the blessing that she brings into her husband’s possessions” (To Be A Mentch by Rabbi Yitzchak Shkop, page 216).
Rabbi Anava says the following: A young man once came to the Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt”l and asked him, “Is it true that folding my tallis Motzei Shabbos is a remedy for Sholom Bayis? The Rebbe told him, “No, fold your sleeves and wash the dishes. That’s going to be a remedy for Sholom Bayis.”
What can one do to prevent his Sholom Bayis from becoming lethargic?
- When his wife walks into the room he should stand up for her and vice versa: once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Before retiring for the night - both the husband and wife - should thank each other for what one does for the other. It recommended that the couple read together Let There Be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein.
Then, they should take a piece of PAPER and ask each other:
- What they would like to succeed in - their physical and spiritual endeavors.
- What physical and spiritual difficulties they would like to overcome.
Afterward, write it down and both should daven to Hashem on the other’s behalf.
If that’s the case with the Torah, then what can marriage with one’s wife be comparable to? A Gemara.
With Hashem’s help, may our marriages always maintain their freshness like that of Aharon HaKohein lighting the menorah - both the husband and the wife should never take each other for granted - and the bond of love that exists between them, should be like that of Dovid and Yonasan and the unity of Adam and Chavah!