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Beloved Comanions - Insights on Domestic Tranquility From the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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A Good Marriage is Not Built in a Day

And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the tent, and all its furniture, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets.
(SHEMOS 39:33)

In the city of Mezritz was the Beis Yoseph Yeshivah a Rabbi Dovid Bleicher was its renowned Rosh yeshivah who was famous for his understanding of human nature.

Once a young rich Chasidic man with a grieving heart appeared before Rabbi Bleicher and asked to speak with him. He related to the Rabbi that he had been married for ten years, but that had no children. Besides that, his wife was constantly ill, and had spent a fortune on medical care, with no positive result And what was more, he had just visited his Chasidic Rebbe, we told him that he must divorce his wife. Finally he burst in tears, telling Rabbi Bleicher that he simply did not know where to go from here, since if he were to divorce his wife it might endanger her health. Additionally, they lived in peace a harmony together and he did not want to divorce her. What should he do?

Rabbi Bleicher thought about the case for several minutes, a then gave the young man some advice for his wife. Rabbi Bleicher told him not to consider divorce for a few months yet, and not to tell a soul that he had visited his Chasidic Rebbe and what advice he had received there. The young man-asked Rabbi -Bleicher to pray for him, and with that he left. After a period of time, the young man returned with the news of the birth of a son. He asked Rabbi Bleicher to be the Sandak [the one who holds the child] at the bris.

"I want you to give this honor to your Chasidic Rebbe. Under no circumstances will I take it for myself," replied Rabbi Bleicher. The young man pleaded with the Rabbi, trying to convince him to accept the honor, saying that both he and his wife had decided that the honor of sandak really belonged to him, but all his pleading was in vain, since the Rabbi adamantly held to his position that the Chasidic Rebbe should be honored instead.

After the young man had left, Rabbi Bleicher's students asked him, "Why did you not want to accept the honor bestowed upon You?"

Rabbi Bleicher answered, "I was afraid that the Young man would lose faith in his Chasidic Rebbe, and thus he would not have any rabbi at all. "

The young man became so attached to Rabbi Bleicher, that as a token of his great love for him he was one of the main donors who helped the rabbi build the new yeshivah in Mezritz.
(K'tzes Ha-Shemesh Bi-Gvuraso, p. 213)

Rabbi Bleicher declined the honor of being sandak because he felt it would benefit the Chasidic man. Refusing honor for someone else's benefit is a trial of character which requires great spiritual strength to Overcome. In marriage also we must grapple with tests that arise to establish proof of our true moral character.

And they brought the mishkan to Moshe." 1 This is what the verse says, "False lips that speak of a tzaddik harshly shall become dumb,"2 [this refers to those who] spoke against Moshe.

When G-d told him to make a Mishkan, he [Moshe] immediately said to them, "Take from them a donation [trumah] to G-d."3 And Moshe was busy with the Mishkan for three months. They put it up and took it apart. And people were laughing at him and saying, "We have made the Mishkan. Did he not say that he would have the Divine Presence there dwelling among us?"

But G-d wanted the Mishkan to go up in the month that Avraham was told about Yitzchak. When that month arrived, G-d said to him, "In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall put up the Mishkan."4

At that time G-d said, "False lips that speak of a Tzaddik shall become dumb,"5 [referring to] those who were laughing at the mishkan.
(yalkut 417)

Why was G-d so careful to put up the Mishkan the month that Avraham heard of the forthcoming birth of Yitzchak? Why were the people laughing at Moshe? Why does the midrash include that Moshe took donations from the people? Why did G-d mention the second half of the verse, "shall become dumb?"

People laughed at Moshe for two reasons. One was that he had promised that the Divine Presence would be in the Mishkan, but nothing had happened. Secondly5 they derided him for having taken their money for no apparent end.

If, instead, he had failed to build the Mishkan, that would have been enough to make them laugh. The fact that he took money from them, built the structure, but then could not "deliver the goods," greatly troubled them. More abuse was heaped on Moshe because people felt he cheated them, than would have been the case if they just thought hit,, incompetent. That is why the midrash mentions the fact that he had asked for donations for the Mishkan. This points out the cause of the increased laughter and derision. People were actually accusing him of deceit and theft and that the Mishkan was all a hoax. That is why the midrash quotes the verse, "False lips that speak of a tzaddik harshly shall become dumb," to allude to the fact that people were falsely accusing Moshe.

We can learn from this that even the greatest people are sometimes suspected and accused, and suffer aggravation from others much smaller than themselves. But a measure of their greatness is that they trust in G-d and continue doing His will in spite of all obstacles.

Why did G-d want the Mishkan to be erected at the same time of the year that Avraham learned that Yitzchak was to be born?

The birth of Yitzchak heralded the continuation of the Jewish people as the nation that would lead the spiritual way for the world. Before Yitzchak was born, it seemed that future generations would not benefit from the work of Avraham. All of his efforts to bring the knowledge of G-d into the world would be lost. But when Avraham heard of Yitzchak's forthcoming birth, he knew that his efforts were not in vain. Hashem's will would continue to be performed since there would now be someone to carry on His name, and as a result His Shechinah [Divine Presence] would remain present. The erection of the Mishkan also brought the Shechinah and made G-d's presence felt. Therefore G-d wanted both events to be on the same date, since they were similar in their purpose.

I heard from my mentor, Rabbi Chaim Friedlander Zt"l, that it is written that the Jewish calendar year is a spiral. In other words, each year we return to the zone of that same day that has been in the past. We are affected by past events and regain inspiration from what happened on that day in previous years.

in that vein, G-d wanted the beginning of the Mishkan to be on the same day that Yitzchak's birth was announced, so that the same inspiration which came from knowing that there would be a perpetuation of G-d's name in the world for generations to come, would also be part of the spiritual inspiration of the holy Mishkan.

What was intended by G-d's stating the words, "shall become dumb," when the Divine Presence finally entered the Mishkan? The answer might be to teach us how careful we must be not to question what G-d says. Once He ha promised Moshe that He would build the Mishkan, there was no room for doubt. Even though there might be many disappointments along the way, this will not alter the final outcome which is the fulfillment of what G-d ha promised. All the obstacles were merely spiritual trials t test our faith.

Trials in Marriage are
Spiritual Opportunities

In marriage too, most of our hardships are spiritual trials to see if we are strong enough to withstand them Thus even if your spouse really overdoes it once in a while, and shouts and embarrasses you, this is a trial to see how you will react. Waiting a long time for a spouse to meet us in a prearranged place is a spiritual test. If you spouse goes somewhere without notifying you, it is a trial.

It is a trial when the house is a mess. Any unpleasantness or inconvenience is a disguised spiritual test. But always remember that a spiritual test is also a spiritual opportunity and should not be wasted. The young man in our opening story was tested by not having children. The faith and love he maintained during his heartbreaking problem, brought him success both in spiritual terms as well as being granted what he greatly desired in this world, a child.

And so our task is to react to inconveniences and hardships in our lives and in our marriages with trust that G-d does not let anything happen to us unless it is planned for our spiritual development. Why, then, should we waste our precious energy being angry at our spouse when it is all planned from Above? Instead we should learn to look at our spouses as the ones who bring us these spiritual opportunities.

Once we can see things in this way, it will become clear that we can choose to be calm, quiet, and soothing or, we can continue to choose to shout and embarrass our spouse in retaliation, which only prolongs the unpleasantness. We should understand that a spiritual trial is in process, and if we can succeed in holding back our anger, we can anticipate a great reward from G-d. But if we stumble and become angry, instead of gaining a mitzva, we will simply add a transgression to our record. It is up to us to react properly.

There is even a greater parallel between the building of the Mishkan and building a marriage. Our Sages say that the Divine Presence is part of a marriage when there is peace between husband and wife. 6 In that respect, every marriage is a miniature Mishkan where G-d manifests His presence. And so, too, just as at the time of the building of the Mishkan there were many delays and trials until it was finally built, in marriage also there are many delays and trials until the marriage becomes a solid and permanent structure.

just people were deriding Moshe, so too in marriage we might find that parents or friends deride our spouses and try to discourage us from succeeding in marriage. It is up to us as G-d-fearing men and women not to pay attention to those who try to discourage us from our holy goal of building a strong marriage.

Building the Mishkan did not take a day, but rather it took much longer until it was complete and perfect. So, too, is marriage. You cannot build a lasting relationship in a short while, but rather you must slowly build trust and love between you. The more you give and share, the stronger the bond becomes. The more you are selfish and want to take for yourself, the more you drift apart. Building a marriage is like building a house. It must be built brick by brick and there are no shortcuts to constructing such an eternal structure.

1. Shemos 39.33
2. Tehillim 31:19
3. Shemos 25:2
4. Shemos 40:2
5. Tehillim 31:19
6. Bereshis Rabbah 22:2

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