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by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Command the children of Israel, and say to them: My offering, My bread for My fire offerings, for a pleasing savor to Me, you will be careful to offer to Me in its appointed season. (Bamidbar 28:2)
Rabbi Solomon Mutzafi was a person who was extremely careful when it came to ding mitzvos. For example, he would thoroughly check all the limbs of every chicken his wife was about to cook, for any possible signs of treifos. He had very high standards, so he felt he could not rely only on his wife’s checking, for fear that she might accidentally overlook something.
Nevertheless, he was also very concerned that he should not cause his wife any ill feelings. Therefore, although he would regularly enter the kitchen at the time when she was opening the chickens, he always had an excuse for being there: He wanted to have a drink or wash his hands, or help his wife with the chickens. When he saw that everything was alright, he would return to his Torah learning.
Although he felt it important to check the chickens himself, he was always sensitive to her feelings, and therefore extremely cautious in the manner he went about doing it. He did not want to risk insulting his wife in any way, so he did everything he could to avoid the possibility that his wife would think that he mistrusted her. (Hizaharu Bi-chvod Chavreichem p.391).
Rabbi Mutzafi was extremely careful to honor his wife. He realized that he could never compromise her feelings to accomplish the goals he desired. We should try to emulate his attitude and sensitivity in all our actions.
“Command the children of Israel and say to them...My bread for My fire offerings.” Why does the Torah use the term “command” in G-d’s response to Moshe’s request when it is an uncommon word to use with regard to sacrifices?
This word was chosen as a specific response to Moshe’s request for a successor, “that he will go out before them, and he will come in before them” which is written previously. This verse tells of Moshe’s asking G-d to appoint a leader over the Jewish people after his death. This request showed that Moshe was afraid that without his prompting, G-d might forsake the Jewish people, once he died.
To understand G-d’s response, “Command the Children of Israel...”,our Sages gave the following parable.
A king had a wife who was dying, and she asked of her husband many requests concerning her children’s future welfare. She said to him, “Please be careful with my children.”
He answered her, “Before you request me to treat them well, command them not to rebel against me and not to dishonor me.”
That is what G-d said to him (Moshe): “Before you remind Me about My children, remind them about Me, that they should not disgrace Me and should not dishonor Me.” That is the reason for the words, “Command the children of Israel.” (Sifri Bemidbar 28:2).
How could Moshe have come to make the mistake of thinking that G-d would forsake the Jewish people and not appoint a new leader after his death? What can we learn from the parable brought in the Midrash? What does G-d mean when He says, “Before you remind Me about My children etc.?”
Moshe’s love for the Jewish people knew no bounds. He was a true leader and well deserves the connotation “the faithful shepherd.” This vast love led him to make his request to secure that there be a leader for them after his death. However, in some minute way, there was a fault in Moshe’s act. He should not have made this request. He should not have let his love for the people overcome his faith in G-d, that He would not abandon them.
In the parable, we learn that Moshe’s request is similar to a mother lying on her deathbed, asking her husband to take care of the children. In other words, while it’s obvious that the father will never forsake his children, nevertheless, the tremendous love the mother feels for them causes her to make this request of him anyway.
G-d’s response was “Before you request Me to treat them well, etc.” G-d was remarking that His fulfilling Moshe’s request really depends on the people’s own actions, rather than on G-d’s will. If they listen to G-d and honor Him, there is no reason for worry.
G-d is saying to Moshe, “If you are so worried about the Jewish people, use your influence to command them to listen to Me. Then their safety is secured.
The Benefits of Honoring One’s Wife
This lesson taught to Moshe regarding the relationship between the Jewish people and Hashem, can also serve as a lesson for the relationship between a man and his wife. Often a husband has complaints about his wife. She does not prepare his meals on time, the house is a mess, she has forgotten to take care of important matters, etc. When he discovers her mistakes he often harshly warns her not to repeat them as it annoys him.
But the truth is that a woman needs no warning to be careful about her husband’s wishes. Her entire world is centered around him, and he is in her thought constantly as her top priority. Therefore, instead of warning his wife about how she should be treating him, it would be much wiser for him to be careful himself not to offend her in any way, since this is an area which is commonly neglected.
Here is a simple way to remember the Torah’s outlook on how a man should treat his wife: “Treat your wife like a queen, and she will treat you like a king; treat your wife like a slave, and she will show you who is the boss.” A woman needs love and affection. She needs to be treated like a queen.
Do not think that treating your wife royally reaps no benefits. A wife’s positive response will be much greater than a man can imagine, and he will receive in return much more than he gives. The reason for this is that a woman’s nature is to help and support her husband in every possible way But she needs encouragement to bring out her truest and highest nature, and this encouragement is provided by the love and affection that her husband shows her.
Of course, a person should not show love to his wife just for the sake of the tangible benefits he will receive from her in return. He should rather do it l’shem shamayim, for the sake of the mitzvah, and in the process he will reap great rewards. This is similar to all the other mitzvos, about which we are told; do not do them for the reward, but for the sake of Heaven, and in the end the reward will also come.
Pure motives are especially important when it comes to a man’s relationship with his wife, since she can immediately sense whether he is being sincere or not. If she senses that he is not being sincere, then she will be terribly hurt, since he is taking lightly something which is so precious to her - her feelings.
Therefore, one must be careful to be honest in all one’s actions. Every husband should also pray to Hashem that he will succeed in relating to his wife with trustfulness and with chesed. In this way a man will be assured of a happy home life and a happy afterlife, full of blessing and reward.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network