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Beloved Comanions - Insights on Domestic Tranquility From the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Silence Can Save Your Marriage

After Aharon's sons died] then Moshe said to Aharon: This is is that which the L-rd spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aharon held his peace.
(VAYIKRA 10:3)

In the Zichron Moshe section of Jerusalem there was a modest wedding hall by the name of Tiras Chen. It belonged to a Mr. Menachem Grossman, who was a student in his younger years of Yeshivas Raddin and Kaminetz. He was a very pleasant person who maintained extraordinary self-control. The following are examples of his exemplary behavior. At the time when he operated this wedding hall many Jews in Jerusalem were lacking the basic means to support themselves. Then it came time for them to marry off a son or daughter they faced severe financial difficulties. When one of these people married off a child in Tiras Chen and did not pay his debt, Mr. Grossman would try to avoid encountering them on the street lest he make them feel embarrassed for defaulting. If he saw he was going towards such a person he would make a point of crossing to the other side of the road.

Even when a person had not yet paid for a previous wedding, and would come again to order the wedding hall for another child, he would pretend that the person had no debt. He did not vaguely hint to them about the money owed by saying something like, "We will let bygones be bygones, but this time..."

Additionally, a remarkable story is told about Mr. Grossman. Once, an honorable friend of his was fired from his job at an institution because of a change in administration. The friend did not receive the compensation he deserved from the institution, and Mr. Grossman advised him how to go about getting it. The matter eventually came up in beis din, and there was a need for someone to testify if this friend was really in financial need. Mr. Grossman testified that it was clear to him beyond doubt that his friend was in such a situation.

When asked by the beis din how he knew that this was true, he replied, "A few years ago my friend married off his daughter in my wedding hall. We had agreed upon a price. He has paid only a fraction of his debt. Can you possibly believe that such an honorable man, who I see so often, would not pay his debt if he had the means?" The beis din accepted his reasoning.

Even though his friend received the compensation from the institution through the help of Mr. Grossman, he did not pay his debt to him. When Mr. Grossman was asked if he considered this ingratitude, he said, "On the contrary, his not paying me Just shows how difficult his situation must be. He probably has man," creditors that are pressuring him. Why should I add to his painful situation?"

It was not because Mr. Grossman was wealthy that he refrained from pressing the people who owed him money. He was himself in debt all his life. In fact, he eventually had to sell the wedding hall to pay off his debts. He told his family, "Do not think that I have gotten into this situation because I have not collected my debts. -What I was doing fulfilled the Torah's command, 'You shall not be to him as an aggressive lender of money" [which refers to the prohibition against pressuring a person to pay his debt when you know that he does not have the ability to repay it]. The Torah's principal, 'Her [Torah's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace,' 2 applies equally to this mitzvah. It is impossible that I was harmed because I kept what the Torah had told us to do."

Mr. Grossman restrained himself and was willing to suffer hardship in order to avoid making another person feel uncomfortable. His actions are valuable lessons to us. Through them we can get some idea to what extent we should be prepared to go in order to preserve marital peace. Restraint in the form of remaining silent can prevent many unnecessary crises from arising in marriage.

Because Aharon kept silent when his two children died in the Ohel Moed he received a reward. As it is written, "And Aharon was silent." 3 His reward was that G-d spoke directly to him, as it is written, "And G-d spoke to Aharon."4

"The commands of G-d are straight, they make the heart rejoice." 5 This verse refers to Aharon, whose heart was sad because of his sons' deaths. However, once G-d spoke to him, he was full of joy.

Rabbi Chizkya learned, "The words of Torah become a crown for the head, as it is written, "For they are a charming ornament for your head." 6 A necklace for your neck, as it is written, "And necklaces for your neck." 7A remedy for the heart, as It is written, "The commands of G-d are straight, they make the heart rejoice." 8 A remedy for the eye, as It Is written, "The command of G-d is Clear, enlightening the eyes."9 A cup of elixir for the Intestines, as it is written, "It will be a remedy for the intestines." 10 From where do we know that the Torah is a remedy for all a person's 248 limbs? It is written, "They are life for those that find them, and for his flesh a cure." 11
(YALKUT 528, par. Yayin)

Why should Aharon receive a reward for his silence at the time of his sadness? How was his reward proportional to his efforts? How did Aharon find so much consolation when G-d spoke directly to him that he actually became joyful? Why is Torah compared to the different jewelry and ornaments that a woman wears?

When a person encounters a tragedy or difficulty in his life and is able to accept it without complaint, this shows his strong belief in G-d. Such a person recognizes that G-d plans everything in the world, and nothing happens against His will. G-d knows what is right for us, so one should graciously accept His will as being for the best even if the consequences may seem bitter or unjust from our limited human perspective. If one does so, he shows that he has internalized this faith.

When G-d speaks directly to someone, it demonstrates that person's high spiritual level. G-d singles out a person to receive prophecy when that person's righteous actions have won G-d's special attention. This communication is an appropriate response to the righteous person's deeds. Since one has chosen to cling to G-d and totally accept his sovereignty, G-d wants to encourage this behavior. And therefore openly shows His loyal servant that he has found- favor in G-d's eyes.

How did Aharon at the time of his grief find do much consolation when G-d spoke directly to him, that he actually became joyful? The answer is that sorrow comes to a person when he feels that he has lost something precious. He feels a void in his life where there was previously something substantial and important, and often he is perplexed as to why this happened to him. Such a person experiences bewilderment and pain. However, despite his loss, Aharon suddenly felt spiritually uplifted) since G-d was speaking directly to him. He realized that the reason he had merited this experience was because he had quietly accepted the deaths of his sons. He understood now that their deaths had not been in vain. This event had elevated him to a plateau he had never reached before. He was no longer pained, since it was now clear to him that through his loss he had also gained something unutterably precious.

Why is the Torah compared to the different jewelry and ornaments that a woman wears? Even an attractive woman lacks something if she does not have the right jewelry to enhance her beauty. The same is true in regard to Torah, which can be considered an adornment of the soul. Even though someone may have a sharp mind and a warm heart, if he lacks Torah, the person lacks something essential. He does not know precisely what to do with the strengths to be found in his mind and heart. But once he learns Torah this becomes clear to him. He will come to understand how he can utilize his capabilities to the utmost. The Torah enhances his inner talents, just as jewelry enhances a woman's beauty.

How do the words of Torah cure a person's body? Even though the Torah is spiritual, it has a direct affect on our bodies. Our Sages tell us that there are 248 positive commandments and 356 negative ones. Our bodies also have 248 limbs and 356 tendons, which our Sages teach us correspond respectively to the positive and the negative commandments. They explain that keeping the mitzvos of the Torah can Positively effect our bodies, since they' parallel each of our physical components. 12

Keep Quiet and Keep Out of Trouble
Aaron's silence is an example we should use in our marriages. Many times a person has something unpleasant to say to one's spouse; but it is always much wiser not to say it. We see what a great reward Aaron received for his silence, and we too will be rewarded abundantly if we are able to restrains ourselves appropriately.

It is fairly common to be annoyed by something your spouse does or says. A man may become annoyed if his dinner is not ready on time, or if he has to wait for his wife when they have to go somewhere, or if she forgets to do the errands that he asks her to do. A woman may become annoyed when her husband does not help her at home, does not show her any attention and just reads the newspaper or involves himself in some other entertainment, or if he leaves a mess behind him.

When a person is annoyed, the common reaction is to let his spouse have a peace of his mind. But before doing this, consider if there is any long-term profit to be gained from an outburst of anger. It may help you let off some steam, but it is likely will also harm the relationship between you and you, spouse.

If you see that you are unable to change the situation, then why talk about it? Instead, perhaps write it down somewhere, and when you are less angry, speak to your spouse calmly and constructively so as to try to find a solution together, Keeping silent when you are angry is an excellent policy to follow, since it will stop you from saying things that you will later regret.

Never criticize your spouse about something beyond his or her control. For instance, never make critical remarks about your spouse's accent, looks, learning capabilities, or talents.

These are things that most people cannot improve, so there is absolutely no point in talking about something that will only upset your spouse and serve no positive end. Accept these as things you were destined by G-d to live with whether you like them or not.

Learning to be silent when appropriate in marriage is one of the most valuable lessons that a person can learn. By keeping quiet you keep yourself out of trouble, away from aggravation, and out of arguments. The saying, "silence is golden" certainly applies to marriage. The wrong words said at the wrong time can destroy your marriage. Therefore think a thousand times before you say anything that might hurt your spouse. Aharon's silence brought him to a point of spiritual elevation that he had never before experienced. In marriage too, keeping silent when we cannot change the situation or when speaking is likely to hurt your spouse's feelings, may also enable us to reach new spiritual heights that we have never known before.

1. Shemos 22:24
2. Mishlei 3:17
3. Vayikra 10:3
4. Vayikra 10:8
5. Tehillim 19:9 16.
6. Mishlei 1:9
7. Ibid
8. Tehillim 19:9
9. Ibid.
10. Mishlei 3:8
11. Mishlei 4:22
12. Midrash Tanchuma Parshas Kedoshim 6

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