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.

Marriage: Partners For Life- Spiritual Elevation of Physical Reality

28 06 2010

Based on a shiur on the Chassidic Perspective of Marriage by Rabbi H. Reichman

visaA Jewish marriage is a sacred bond, which echoes the bond between G-d and the Jewish People. This series of classes, based on the Chassidic teachings of the Sochatchover Rebbe, the Shem Mishmuel, presents both philosophical insights and practical comments on the unique beauty of the Jewish marriage.
In Judaism, marriage is considered one of the most pivotal events in a person’s life. The first story in the Torah concerning people is the story of the marriage of Adam and Chava. Additionally, the first mitzva in the Torah is peru urevu, to build a family, which our Sages consider a very great mitzva. In today’s permissive society, the institution of marriage is under severe attack. The more we know and the better we understand what marriage is all about, the stronger our bond will be.

The Shem MiShmuel takes a penetrating look at the concept of nisuin by analyzing the seven blessings recited under the chupa. He begins with the first bracha, “Shehakol barah l’chvodo, who has created everything for his honor.” This blessing applies to all of creation, why did Chazal place it as the first of the sheva brachot? The Shem MiShmuel answers this question by introducing a fundamental concept that is at the heart and soul of marriage.

There seems to be a clash between our physical and spiritual reality. Physicality appeals to our baser instincts and, if unguided, pulls us away from Hashem. Spirituality drives us to develop our inner selves and draw closer to our Creator. How can marriage, which seems to be merely a physical event or at best a means to continue the human species, be considered a core mitzva of the Torah?

He answers that marriage is really a spiritual experience. In the first blessing of sheva brachot we affirm that the union of man and woman is only to increase the honor of Hashem. Physicality is not antithetical to spirituality, but a means to glorify His name. Our purpose on this world is to find Hashem within the physical realm. The Chassidic masters called this l’galot et hanizozot, to discover the sparks of spirituality embedded in the natural world. Indeed, this is not only Chassidic philosophy but a critical part of our revealed Torah. Many mitzvot can only be fulfilled with our physical bodies such as putting on tefilin, eating matza, and sitting in the suka.

When Balak and Bilam plotted to curse the Jews, their motive was to keep them in the desert. They claimed that the holy nation of Israel should continue praying, studying Torah, and being involved in spirituality exclusively. Entering the land of Israel would mean facing physical reality. They said, “Let this world be our domain. Let’s not mix spirituality into it.”

Marriage involves finding the sparks of divinity within the physical world. Hashem gave us physical bodies so we could learn how the physical and spiritual aspects of our life are intertwined. The purpose of creation was not for man to escape or avoid the challenges of the physical world. Rather, Hashem placed our souls down on earth so that we would pass the tests of life with flying colors and emerge greater for the experience. When the Vilna Gaon asked the Dubno Maggid to give him rebuke he told him, to be a Vilna Gaon closed up in a room is a great accomplishment, but to remain a gaon in the streets of Vilna or in the Russian forest, is an even greater feat. The Gaon began to cry and immediately left Vilna that night. He wandered through Europe for three years and his sojourn left a lasting impact on his spiritual development.

Marriage is the first and possibly the prime place where the melding of physicality and spirituality takes place. A marriage that is focused exclusively on physical attraction is doomed to failure because all physical things eventually deteriorate.  A Jewish couple sees their marriage as a divine union. They know they are bound in an infinite, eternal connection. Their marriage exists because of Divine will, it is the place where the Divine Presence rests, and where spiritual sparks can develop and grow. Creating an abode where the honor of Hashem can increase is the essence and sanctity of a Jewish marriage.

Question Index for Rebbetzin’s Perspective II: Questions and Answers for Today’s Jewish Woman

23 02 2010

Rebbetzin’s Perspective II

Class 1

  • Rewarding children for helping around the house
  • Suspect neighbor abusive to wife
  • Clarity of Jewish women in Mitzrayim
  • Help avoiding Loshon Hora and dealing with anger and disappointment caused by machlokes
  • Understanding the dynamic of husband and wife in reference to Ruchnius goals
  • Should I stop nursing my child to increase my chances of having more children?
  • Explaining my parents divorce to my children
  • Explanation of custom of not allowing babies to look in the mirror
  • Spiritual significance of Hebrew birthdays
  • Understanding the atonement ritual of the Azazel
  • Men and women’s roles – the generally accepted view
  • Bringing HaShems Shechina into the world
  • Husband doesn’t attend Minyan regularly

Class 2

  • Understanding the atonement ritual of the Azazel
  • Men and women’s roles – the generally accepted view
  • Love and respect in marriage

Class 3

  • Balancing obvious chessed opportunities with a healthy family life
  • Feasible to take on 5 new children?
  • Good friend struggling with shidduchim
  • At what age should father insist that his child daven every word of Shemoneh Esrei?
  • Sensitivity to having single mothers for Shabbos meals
  • Dealing with 13 months olds tantrums
  • Gift recommendation for a 14 year old boy to help be mekarev him.

Class 4

  • Rain
  • Getting rid of bad thoughts
  • Practically respecting your husband
  • What obligations do I have to my Jewish help in the house?
  • Perek Shira
  • Dealing with husband’s criticism
  • Shidduchim and losing weight
  • HaShems hashgacha in terms of rain
  • Helping guests feel appreciated while maintaining the Kedusha of our home
  • Helping young children understand HaShems love and Din on their level

Class 5

  • Defining ones tafkid without the role of being a mother
  • Practical advice on organization and increasing self esteem.
  • Practical help contacting Gedolim.
  • Planned parenting and knowing when I’m ready for a second child.
  • Davening tips for Tefillah at home with my seven year old son.
  • Response for a child being bullied.
  • Balance of giving child rebuke for onaas devarim and building his self image.
  • Encouraging 10 year old daughter to stop playing with neighbors who are boys.
  • Comments on Kollel lifestyle

Class 6

  • Shidduchim conflicts caused by choice of college major.
  • Labor in Judaism
  • Handling chutzpah for children ages 10-13
  • Kollel at the expense of children
  • What lack did Chava fill for Adam?
  • Tefillah
  • Tefillah B
  • Understanding the role of a wife who is stronger in spirituality than her husband.
  • Women and visiting cemeteries
  • Old meaningful friendship- should I maintain it even though our lives are so different now.
  • Teaching Shmiras Einayim to children
  • Stories on jealousy to be mechanech children

Class 7

  • Response to 7 years old child’s questions about goyim kissing in the street.
  • Parameters for a relationship with angry family member.
  • Response to others who cut ahead in line.
  • Hashkafa on Chanukah gifts.
  • Bad dreams in Judaism
  • Understanding Medrash about women wearing jewelry exclusively in the house.
  • Practically applying the idea of the Medrash that a married woman should stay in her home to avoid being a stumbling block for men.
  • Correct attitude toward husbands decision to paskin his own shailas
  • Help deciding which school system to choose for son.

Class 8

  • Love for music
  • Conflict between value of working and staying home with my children
  • What is the parent’s role towards childrens gift money?
  • Explanation of the mitzvah of sanctifying time
  • Emunas chachamim today
  • Practically cultivating simcha and relating positively to nisyonos
  • Halachot of sleeve length and explaining the psak
  • Clarification on quantity vs. quality time with children
  • “Friend’s” judgmental comments and tznius in speech

Class 9

  • Practical ways to improve middot
  • How to deal with the neighbor’s child’s negative influence
  • Are Polly Pocket dolls really not ok?
  • Frum perspective on piercing ears
  • Judaism’s view on vegetarianism
  • Hashkafic difficulties with entering the mental health field
  • Making shidduchim the right way
  • How to calm son’s fears at the dentist

Class 10

  • Coping with the trauma of a son’s brit
  • Chinuch on fitting in with friends and refined speech
  • Taharat Hamishpacha and is this a chumra?
  • Dealing with threats of war
  • What defines time which is actually lived?
  • Different standards in kashrut and avoiding offending others
  • Handling sibling personality clashes
  • Is it ok to follow the news?

Partners for Life: Chassidic Perspectives on Marriage

3 08 2009

Just in time for Tu B’Av, is bringing you a variety of classes on the topic of dating and marriage.

One of these classes is  ‘Partners for Life: Chassidic Perspectives on Marriage

Summary of the class: A Jewish marriage is a sacred bond which echoes the bond between G-d and the Jewish People. This class, based on the chassidic teachings of the Sochatchover Rebbe, the Shem Mishmuel, presents both philosophical insights and practical comments on the unique beauty of the Jewish marriage.

The first installment of this class is ‘Spiritual Elevation of Physical Reality

In this Torah shiur (class) on the Torah view of marriage based on the philosophy of Chassidut, Rabbi Hershel Reichman describes marriage as a central theme in the Torah. The first story regarding people in the Torah is the narrative of Adam marrying Chava (Eve.) The first mitzva given Man in the Torah is the mitzva to bear children, “pru u’revu”. Chassidut explains that this world is characterized by a confrontation between physicality and spirituality. The fundamental purpose of humanity is to discover the ‘holy sparks’ of the Divine in the physical reality. Marriage is the central arena for achieving this goal.