How Do I Respect My Spouse’s Feelings?

16 08 2011

Achieving Balance: Class#1 

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on

Achieving Balance: Class#1


I like to put my family first, and rarely participate in simchot in the evenings. My husband feels strange going alone, even though they are all separate seating. Am I wrong for staying home? Do I need to respect my husband’s feelings and make the effort to accompany him?




Kudos for putting your family first, they do come before simchot. I’m invited to a lot of simchot because I teach marriageable-age girls. I’ve learned that it’s ok to stay five minutes, wish the baalat simcha Mazel Tov, and leave. This means that oftentimes I manage to be back home within an hour. If this works for you, it’s a good solution. I’m not advocating not going to simchot because it makes such a huge difference to the baal simcha for people to share in their joy. The need to belong to a group larger than oneself is very deep.


If it’s important to your husband that you accompany him, set aside time for this either weekly or bi-weekly. As Rebbetzin Esther Greenberg would often say; “When you talk about family first, husbands are number one before children.” You have to respect your husband’s wishes and your children should see you doing that.

Secrets of Shalom Bayit- For Women

15 08 2011

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Beinish Ginsburg 

Secrets of Shalom Bayit-For Women In Sichot Mussar, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz notes that the angels emphasized Sarah’s modesty to Avraham in order to make her more beloved to him. Avraham and Sarah had been married for many years and yet the Torah tells the story to teach us the significance of shalom bayit (marital harmony).

Rav Orlowek teaches that the secret to good chinuch (child-raising) is shalom bayit. When there is a happy wholesome home atmosphere, children thrive.

The following are some of Rav Orloweck’s tips for increasing shalom bayit:

Be dan l’kaf zechut (judge favorably). It’s not because your husband doesn’t care. He grew up in another home where things were done differently. Don’t take it personally. It’s hard to change in an instant. Find a positive way to remind him what irks you. Make a big sign, discuss it, work it out so there’s a plan that fits both of you. Make it fun instead of getting upset.

Disappointment is the difference between expectation and reality. Visualize your husband coming home tired and moody. It won’t be such a letdown if he really does get angry or doesn’t respond. This is not being pessimistic, just broadening your expectations.

Smile when your husband walks through the door. It helps set the tone for the rest of the day.

Let him talk first, before you unload your complaints and grievances.

People are not robots. They have ups and downs and are affected by emotions. Give your husband a small snack to eat on the way home. Then even if dinner isn’t ready, he’ll be calm. It’s important to get enough sleep. Catch a quick nap during the day so you feel refreshed when your husband gets in.

Try to be forgiving. You are both partners trying to create a wonderful Torah home. In the big picture, he’s doing all these great things for you. Overlook the minor mistakes.

Disagreements very often arise because of lack of communication. Women are more intuitive than men. You think your husband got it when he really didn’t and then you get upset. If you didn’t say it, he didn’t hear it. The same goes for compliments. Be specific. Thank your husband for the little acts of thoughtfulness and he’ll do it again.

Men and women are very different. Women find satisfaction in raising and discussing issues. Men tend to focus on getting to the point and finding solutions. Be aware of this and don’t get frustrated if your husband doesn’t automatically think like you. It’s just the way Hashem created us.

When you need to give constructive criticism, sandwich it with praise. Start and end with positive words.

Rav Dessler says that the root word of ahava (love) is hav (to give). Giving generates love. Investing in your husband will help you feel like one unit. A practical working definition of love is-“If it matters to you, it matters to me.” Put yourself in your husband’s shoes and prioritize the things a that mean a lot to him.

Don’t interrupt your husband when he’s learning. With learning you accomplish much more if there’s continuity without breaks or stops. Wait till he finishes.

Timing is important. Don’t try to discuss difficult issues when your husband is tired, hungry, or under pressure.

Help him spend time with you. Be available when your husband frees up his schedule for you.

One of the most crucial times to practice shalom bayit is at the Shabbat table. This is when our children see us interacting. What we say and how we say it is crucial. Husband and wife must treat each other with respect. If a wife doesn’t respect her husband, the children won’t respect their father either. And that’s not healthy. It’s important that children have role models and authority figures in their life and parents should be central among them.

Tu B’av

12 08 2011

Based on a shiur by Mr. Shira Smiles

Tu B'av  The Gemara in Tannit tells us, “There were no yomim tovim (good occasions) in Israel more joyous than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.” The spiritual happiness of atonement on Yom Kippur was deeply felt but what was so significant about Tu B’av?

The Gemara lists several occurrences. On this day the tribes were permitted to intermarry, the ban against marrying into the tribe of Binyamin was lifted, the generation of the desert ceased dying, Hoshea ben Eleh removed the sentries blocking the roads to Jerusalem, the massacred Jews of Beitar were buried, and the wood for the altar was finally cut for the next year’s sacrifices. In addition, the Mishna tells us that on this day the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed white clothing and dance in the fields and matches were made. But the Gemara alludes to something deeper. It tells us about the marriage bond between Hashem and the Jews. In the future, the tzadikim will form a circle in Gan Eden and dance and point to Hashem and say, “Zeh Hashem kivini lo (This is Hashem, we have put our faith in Him).” What does dancing signify and why did the women in particular celebrate? What is the significance of borrowed clothing? Why does the Gemara give six reasons for the holiday, wouldn’t one have been sufficient?

Tu B’av celebrates re-unification both among the Jewish people and with Hashem. When there is unity there is true joy. Disparity creates a terrible kitrug (accusation) in heaven. The beit hamikdash was destroyed because of dissension. On Tu B’av, the barriers between the tribes were lifted. When the generation of the desert stopped dying, Hashem’s anger dissipated and He renewed His relationship with us once again. We celebrate the completion of gathering the wood because there is no greater joy than completing a mitzva. Now that they could ascend to Jerusalem, they could once again bask in the close proximity of the Divine Presence. Tu B’av is about separation and re-unification, distance and return. The knowledge that Hashem is One, creates unity. In the past we sensed this oneness and in the future we will once again experience it. This is the meaning of the Gemara that the tzadikim will dance in a circle. A circle is equidistant from the center. In the future world there will be total unity. Each tzadik will be able to see from the vantage point of his friend. This too is why the daughters of Tzion went out in borrowed clothing. Borrowing clothes signifies friendship and harmony.

The common thread between Tu B’av and Yom Kippur is atonement. On Yom Kippur, the sin of the Golden Calf was forgiven while on Tu B’av the sin of the Spies was forgiven. This is why the women celebrate. They had no part in either sin. Tu B’av commemorates the burial of those massacred in Beitar. This teaches us that we must be grateful for the slightest good even in the midst of overwhelming tragedy. Likewise matches were made on Tu B’av. A marriage can only function if we recognize the smallest benefit we receive from our spouses. The Sages designated Tu B’av as a holiday in order to help us bear our exile. By being thankful for the smallest good we can overcome our suffering. Sometimes in life, it’s not about the one big answer, it’s about the little reasons. If we can be grateful for all the small chasadim (kindnesses), we can build a genuine relationship with Hashem.

The Gemara calls both Yom Kippur and Tu B’av Yamim Tovim. Tov connotes something lasting. Yom tov is an elevated day whose qualities transcend time. It represents eternity even amidst adversity. Yom Kippur is about forgiveness of sin. Likewise Tu’ Bav, which follows close on the heels of Tisha B’av, signifies rebirth from destruction.

Shidduchim: The Challenge of Uniting Your Soul

11 08 2011

Based on a shiur by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller 

Shidduchim: The Challenge of Uniting Your Soul The Ohr Hachaim writes that all physical creations have both female and male aspects. This division implies that nothing is whole or perfect in this world. Hashem set up the world in a way that there are two forces that bring about change and growth. The male energy provides and gives forth and the female energy takes in and nurtures. Together there is possibility for something greater than both of them to come into existence.

If you’re not married yet, it’s Hashem’s Providence. It doesn’t mean you didn’t make the wrong choices, but ultimately it’s Hashem who brings things to perfection. There’s no possibility of perfection without submission to Hashem’s will. See the world for what it is, imperfect, and learn to live with it. Turn to Hashem. Ask him to help you perceive the potential of perfection in yourself, in the world, and in the people you meet. You don’t have to justify imperfection but try to find the part that is perfect. You can learn from everyone you meet. Many people caught in the shidduch trap are bitter. You can redeem yourself by saying, “Who does Hashem want me to be at this moment?” Not, “What do I want?” If Hashem wants you to be compassionate and a seeker that’s where you should go. Serve Hashem joyously as you learn more and become broader.

Don’t put your life on hold. Only Hashem knows when you’ll find your destined mate. Find things to do that will make you a more perfect person and the world a more perfect place. Take advantage of this free unfettered time to be there for others, to do chesed, and to learn in a way you won’t be able to after you’re married. It’s a time for prayer. Come before Hashem with your emptiness and your imperfection and it will draw you closer to Him.

It seems to me that the one critical question in shidduchim should be, “Can I build with this person?” Is there enough commonality in values, personality, communication, background, and understanding? Nothing else is relevant. If people were focused on that, there would be better, more joyous marriages and less defensiveness and opposition. Of course you have to like and respect the person, but you have to be willing to build together. If that’s there, go for it. Don’t get tied up in externalities or flaws. The world is imperfect. Nothing is perfect. Only Hashem is, and our goal should be to move towards Him with faith, trust, and joy.

Rebbetzin’s Perspective- Preparing for Mashiach

10 08 2011

Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on

Rebbetzin's Perspective III #4


How do we anticipate Mashiach, if the era before his coming seems so frightening and confusing? Is there something we can take upon ourselves to ensure that we get through this period safely?




How it will be is really up to us. It depends on how much we are willing to make changes and how aware we are.


A friend of mine went to the Rachmastrivke Rebbetzin and asked her, “What should we be doing about all the tragedies happening in our time?” She answered, “Don’t you trust Hashem? He is taking us to where we have to go. Things will happen soon and it will be good.”


We need to realize that Hashem has far more compassion for us than we have for ourselves. If the price we’ll have to pay will be awesome, we should know that all our suffering is only to get us to a place that is far better than anything we can imagine. The financial calamities, the unbelievable chutzpah, the lack of respect for Torah, are all events which were foretold.


Rav Elyashiv says people are asleep. We need to arouse ourselves to the possibilities of every moment and to encourage others to do the same. Torah and chesed can save us from the birth pangs of Mashiach. As women we can be kind to others, offer support, and love our fellow Jews with all our hearts. We can study the Torah that we find relevant and inspiring. We should yearn for Mashiach. It is the only solution to the terrible things happening around us.


Don’t confuse the solution with the problem. The problem is galut, the symptoms are all the horrific things happening to awaken us. The solution is Mashiach leading us to the time of enlightenment. We have to point our hearts in that direction. In our minds we should hope for the redemption. With our actions, we should endeavor to move forward day by day, so that when Mashiach finally comes, we’ll be ready to greet him.

From Apher To Pe’er-Tisha B’av

9 08 2011

Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum 

From Apher To Pe'er-Tisha B'av The Midrash tells us that Hashem asked the great sages and prophets, “Al mah avda h’aretz,”-Why was the land lost? Nobody was able to answer until Hashem Himself said, “Al shelo barchu b’Torah techila“-Because they did not recite the blessings on the Torah. This seems puzzling.

Normally, a mourner begins mourning after the burial and as time progresses, restrictions lessen. However on Tisha B’av, it’s the opposite. We begin mourning 21 days before, and as we get closer, there are more and more restrictions. We reach the climax on Tisha B’av when the halachot are most stringent. At midday, the time when the Beit Hamikdash began burning, the men don tefilin, and the mourning lessens. This seems quite perplexing. Shouldn’t the mourning begin precisely when the destruction began and intensify as time passes? Chazal tell us that any generation that does not merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash, is considered to have destroyed the Beit Hamikdash in their time. If we haven’t merited to rebuild, shouldn’t Shabbath Nachamu be the most devastating Shabbath of the year?

What was Yirmiyahu mourning when he wrote the megilah in past tense, as if the Beit Hamikdash had already been decimated? Hashem began removing his Divine Presence in stages prior to the churban. Yirmiyahu witnessed this happening, but alas no one else did. The Jews didn’t mourn Hashem’s withdrawal. When they were told they would be exiled, they should have comforted themselves that at least they still had Hashem and the Torah. Instead they sank into despair. They erroneously thought their Torah learning was now worthless too. When that happened, all was lost.

Jewish law states that a Beit Knesset may not be destroyed. How did Hashem allow our enemies to devastate the Beit Hamikdash? There is a principle in halacha that “soser al menos l’vnot-destroying with the intention to rebuild, is permitted. Hashem created the world to bring glory and honor to His name. Every creation reveals Hashem’s greatness. Man brings glory by choosing to recognize Hashem in all of his existence. When Adam sinned with the eitz hadaat, Hashem said “Ayeka-Where are you? How did you fall? Where is the Adam I created who was so holy that he could see from one end of the world to the other?” Similarly Yirmyahu lamented, “Eicha yashva badad“-How are you sitting alone? Eicha and Ayeka are speled with the same letters, and are essentially the same word. Ayeka can be read as “Ayeh kevod” or “Ayeh keter“-Where is Hashem? Where is the crown? Our purpose on this world is to find Hashem, to proclaim, “Ayeh mekom kevodo“-Where is Hashem’s place of honor. We do this by consciously choosing to find Him at every moment.

This is what Yirmiayhu mourned. Nobody noticed the Shechina departing. When Hashem saw that Klal Yisrael were no longer cleaving to Him through the Beit Hamikdash, he decided to replace it with a new medium of connection. He would destroy in order to rebuild, “V’shachanti b’sochom-Hashem’s Shechina rests within each of us and He desires that we find Him within ourselves. We must cry out, “Ayeka” -. Where are you Hashem? This is the avodah of Tisha B’av.

Eicha is replete with Yirmiyahu’s directives to call out to Hashem. “Shifchi k’mayim..” Pour out your heart like water before Hashem. Dimah (tears) corresponds to daleddom-silence, ayin-eyes, hay-Hahem. When words fail us, tears come and they are precious to Hashem. The Arizal teaches that there are twelve parts to the face and each corresponds to a different month. Tamuz is the right eye and Av is the left eye. In Eicha we read, “Eini, Eini yarda dimah.. ki rachuk mimeni“-My eyes shed tears… You are far from me. Just as tears physically cleanse the eyes so too do they purify us spiritually. The Shabbath before Tisha B’av is called Chazon-the Shabbath of vision. We must work on rectifying our perspective by finding Hashem in every moment of our lives. The spies saw negativity. They did not perceive Hashem nor what He had given them.

Tisha B’av, the very day that portends tragedy, is the birthday of Mashiach. We will ascend from afar (ashes) to p’eer (glory). For close to 2,000 years we’ve mourned, not the physical edifice that was the Beit Hamikdash, but the Shechina which was its essence. The Navi tells us, “Tzadik b’emunaso yichyeh-The tzadik lives by his emunah. If we long for Him and call out to Him, we are in a sense acknowledging His presence and He will listen. Though we’ve been through so much, we have not forgotten Him.

May this Tisha B’av be the final day of mourning. May we merit to rebuild and rejoice once again.



Mourning Over The Real Jerusalem

8 08 2011
Based on a shiur by Rabbi Beinush Ginsburg

Mourning Over the Real Jerusalem There is a well-known Gemara in Tannis which states, “Those who mourn over Jerusalem will merit to see her happiness.” The commentators ask, why does it say, “zoche” in present tense and not “zacha” in future tense?

Yaakov was never fully comforted over the supposed death of Yosef. The Midrash notes that this was because Yosef was still alive. When someone dies, Hashem give us the blessing of shikcha (forgetting), but if the person is alive, there’s no consolation. Based on this, the Acharonim note that the fact that we still mourn over Yerushalayim shows that it is existing in our hearts. We have not given up hope that one day it will be rebuilt. There’s a thread of joy in our mourning, which is why Tisha bav is called a moed and the word zoche is in present tense. There’s happiness hidden within our mourning because we still mourn. When Napolean heard the Jews weeping on Tisha B’av he remarked that if we could still mourn so many years after the destruction, there’s no doubt that we will one day see rebirth. Similarly, Rav Yaakov Emden comments that, “Rachem Na…” in bentching is also present tense. With these words we attest that the spiritual potential of Yerushalayim is alive, it is only dormant, but will eventually return.

From the very beginning, Yerushalayim had the quality of righteousness. The Beit Hamikdash stood on Har Moriah. Moriah comes from the root word moreh-to teach. It was a city of Torah learning.. When a Jew would come and eat his Maaser Sheni in Yerushalayim he would be exposed to the holiness of the Sanhedrin and the sanctity of the city and he could not help growing in Yirat Shamayim. And so when we mourn, we mourn the loss of the ruchniyut of Yerushalayim.

The Torah juxtaposes the sin of the meraglim with the story of the bnot Zelafachad. Rav Nebenzahl explains that unlike the spies, the bnot Zelafachad expressed a profound love for the land. They specifically wanted the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael. They said “Tnu lanu achuza“-Give us a portion. They came to speak to Moshe precisely when he was discussing the laws of yibum. One of the prime reasons for this mitzvah is the elevation of the soul of the deceased. They too wanted to use their father’s portion in the land for the spiritual ascension of his soul.

The Ramban says that when a Jew performs a mitzvah in Eretz Yisrael, he receives more reward than if he would have performed the same mitzvah outside the land. It is a different level of avodat Hashem. The Bnot Zelafachad said, “Lama Negara“-Why should we lose out? They wanted the essential ruchniyut of the land.

During the three weeks we mourn the beit hamikdash. We no longer have the Sanhedrin and the Kingdom of David. The central core of kedusha and ruchniyut that Yerushalayim once was, is gone now. Yet there’s a kernel of simcha in our aveilut. We haven’t forgotten or given up. The spiritual energy of Yerushalayim is alive within our hearts.

May our faith in the imminent geulah bring the redemption speedily in our days.