Self Mastery: A Study of Michtav M’Eliyahu – Giving and Taking

5 11 2012

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen


Hashem created man in His image. Just as He “Noten lechem l’chol basar,” gives sustenance to all of his creations, we should train ourselves to become givers.


In Kuntres Hachesed, the Michtav M’Eliyahu speaks about the love a man should have for his wife. The Gemara in Yevamot says that one should love his wife as much as he loves himself and respect her more than himself. The Torah already commanded, “V’ahavta l’reaicha kamocha.” Why is ahavat ishto a unique obligation? The Michtav M’Eliyahu explains that it’s a means of expressing gratitude for all the good a wife does. Is this really the purpose of marriage?


The Gemara says, an unmarried man lives without simcha (joy), bracha (blessing), and tova (good). The highest level of simcha can only be attained through a wife. Bracha comes through the home. It says, “Lo tov heyot ha’adam l’vado.” It is not good for man to be alone. In order to grow and work on himself, a man needs a wife. He can only come to sheleimut (perfection) through marriage. Each spouse complements the other. Completion in marriage is achieved through love, and love entails giving.


The Gemara puts love for one’s wife before respect. The Rambam puts respect before love to teach us that if one respects his wife more than himself, he will come to love her. When taking overpowers giving, when both ask “How much will I get?” then the marriage falters.


Does love bring a person to give or does giving give rise to love? Contrary to popular belief, one can only love a person if one gives. A person can come to the level of nedivut, of being content with himself and trusting Hashem, by becoming a giver. A person should drive himself to help others in all situations. He should work on being grateful. Gratitude is a prerequisite to giving which brings to love.


Give of yourself and don’t look for recompense. It will come. And if it doesn’t, you will have become a greater, giving, person.




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