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Beloved Comanions - Insights on Domestic Tranquility From the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Shmini II

Be Sensitive To Your Spouse's Feelings

And Moshe called to Mishael and Elzaphan, the children of Uziel, the uncle of Aharon, and said to them Come near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp. (VAYIKRA 10:4)

A young woman once entered the house of Rabbi EliyaLu Chaim Mayzel, the Rabbi of Lodz, with a two week old baby in her arms. Crying profusely, she related her story. "Rabbi, I am a poor deserted woman. Five months ago, my husband left me and no one knows of his whereabouts. Meanwhile this baby was born, and I am without a slice of bread or a drop of milk. My husband was a tailor and always treated me badly. Many times he expressed his desire to depart for America, but I have no idea if he did so."

The rabbi wrote down all the details regarding her husband, gave her a generous sum of money and promised to investigate her missing husband's whereabouts. He immediately sent letters to rabbis in America and in Warsaw, but was unable to get any information whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate woman did a desperate act in her despair. She tied a note to her child's neck begging a kind soul to have mercy on the child, and she then deserted him in the street. The person who found the child brought him to the rabbi, who immediately recognized him as the poor woman's child. The rabbi gave the child to a family to look after, and continually asked about his progress. He also inquired about the mother and found out that she lived in poverty and eked out a living as a washerwoman.

At the age of sixteen, the rabbi arranged for the boy to be apprenticed to a watchmaker, and requested that the boy learn the profession quickly. After two years the boy was already working independently as a watchmaker and making a nice living. The rabbi decided that it was time that the son should meet his mother, and he would then ask him to support her.

The son was invited to the rabbi's home, and the rabbi revealed to him who his real mother was. He told him of her great poverty and that it was his duty to support her and to encourage her. The rabbi arranged for the mother to be sitting at the time in another room. The rabbi then approached the mother and told her that over the years he had kept track of the development of her son, and he had grown to be an honorable citizen and was making a nice living. At that, the woman collapsed in a faint to the floor as she muttered, "Unbearable pressure... poverty... what was I to do?"

After the woman had been revived and comforted, the rabbi called the young man to come into the room where his mother sat, and he told him, "This is your mother! G-d is merciful and raised you in trustworthy hands. Now it is your obligation to fulfill the mitzvahof honoring your mother. Take care of her and never leave her!"

The mother and her son fell into each other's arms, as tears of happiness filled the eyes of everyone present. (OLAMCHESEDYIBANEH,p.100)

Rabbi Mayzel's handling of the situation showed how careful he was not to hurt the feelings of the unfortunate woman. In marriage, we too must take care not to hurt our wives' feelings, since women can be very sensitive.

"And Moshe called to Mishael and Elzaphan, the children of Uziel, the uncle of Aharon."  Since it is already written, "And the sons of Kehas were Amram and Yitzhar and Chevron and Uziel," 2 do I not already know that Uziel is Aharon's uncle? Why iS it mentioned again here in the verse, "the uncle of Aharon"?

The Torah is teaching us that the actions of Uziel were comparable to the actions of Aharon. Just as Aharon ran after peace, in Israel, so too did Uziel run after peace in Israel. From where do we deduce that Aharon ran after peace in Israel? Since it is written, "And the whole congregation saw that Aharon had died, and all of Israel cried for Aharon thirty days."3 However, it is notable that when Moshe died it is written, "And the sons of Israel cried after Moshe."4 Why did all the children of Israel cry after Aharon died, and only the sons of Israel after Moshe? Because Aharon never said to a man or a woman, "You have sinned!", while Moshe sometimes did rebuke them. Therefore it is written that only the sons of Israel cried over Moshe's death.

And so it is written explicitly in the Prophets, "My convenant was with him [Aharon], the life and the peace"5 since he ran after peace in Israel. (YALKUT 526)

What does it mean that Aharon ran after peace? According to the midrash we learn this about Aharon from the verses discussing how the people mourned over hs death and over Moshe's, but how is it clear from this comparison that Aharon sought peace?

Running after peace requires that a person is constantly look for ways to avoid turmoil. One who pursues peace desires that everyone shuld have a feeling of serenity in their hearts, and therefore such a person is very careful that nothing he says will cause even the smallest unpleasantness or aggravation. Peace really means tranquility of the spirit, and someone who runs after peace tries to give everyone this tranquility.

The midrash elsewhere relates how Aharonusedto even lie in order to preserve peace. He would approach one of the parties in an argument and tell him that his friend deeply regretted what he said and did and really desired to make peace with him. This would open the other person's heart and he would say that he felt the same way. Then Aharon would go to the other person and tell the same story In this way, he brought the two sides together and restored peace, even though he resorted to a 1ie in the process.

We see from here that a person is even allowed to lie in order to preserve peace. The reason for this is, although generally Iyng is prohibited and is viewed as running away from the truth and not living in reality, nevertheless, in certain situations, if lying can bring peace, then it is justified. Life without peace has no real meaning but is rather constantly pain-ridden. Aharon was allowed to lie and so is anyone else under the right conditions, provided they are doing so soley for the purpose of preserving peace.

According to the statement of the midrash above,, that because Moshe rebuked the people only the men cried after he died, it seems that our Sages are teaching us that women do not like to be rebuked, while men can tolerate it. Since Aharon pursued peace, he never rebuked the people, and therefore he was loved by women and men alike. Therefore, when it came to crying after his death, both men and women cried for Aharon.

Crying comes from the heart. When someone feels that something really precious has been lost, he cries. The women could not cry when Moshe died, since he was committed to following the letter of the law, and therefore was relentless in upholding everything the Torah said. He spoke out strongly when he felt that the people transgressed G-d's command. Since the women felt the harshness in his voice, they felt hurt by him and so could not weep when he died. They did not feel an attachment in their hearts to Moshe, even though they acknowledged his greatness and highly esteemed him. Without their hearts being touched, they could not cry.

When Aharon died, however, everyone cried because of Aharon's sensitive and delicate approach to problem resolution. He never hurt anyone, even though he too was anguished over people's neglect in keeping the Torah. Even though he was hurt, he could not hurt others. When someone committed a sin in front of Aharon, he would never say, "How could you do such a thing?" or "You have just committed a sin," or "What's wrong with you."

Such statements would have deeply hurt the other person, and so Aharon would never have uttered such a thing. To him the feelings of other people assumed top priority. That does not mean that he would let the issue go unattended, but he would find ways to correct the matter so that the other person would not feel that he was being harshly chastised and so would accept his correction lovingly and repent.

Women Can Be Very Sensitive

This example shows us the delicate nature of women and is an important lesson for marriage. Women, generally, are far more sensitive to what other people say to them. When they hear harsh words, they can be terribly hurt. When they hear compliments or receive affection, they are deeply touched. You simply cannot rebuke a woman as you would a man, even if she made the worst mistake possible. You have to cushion the rebuke in many layers, so that she will not feel that you are trying to criticize her or put her down.

You cannot say to your wife, "Why is dinner not ready?" or "Why are you late?" or "Leave me alone today." Such statements would surely hurt your wife and could destroy any possibility of making peace with her wife.

It is possible, though, to find gentler and more sensitive ways of expressing what you want to say. Instead of "Why is dinner not ready?" you might say somthing like the following: "I see you did not have time to prepare dinner. Is there anything I can do to help, or would you prefer that I take a book and read until you call me?" Instead of "Why are you late?" you could say, "Don't worry about it that you are late, you probably had so much to take care of." Instead of, "Leave me alone today," you could say, "I would love to sit and chat with you, but I had a terrible day, and need some rest, so will you please excuse me today?"

It is what you say to your wife that can make or break your marriage. Instead of blurting out something without thinking, take your time to figure out something nice to say that will not cause any ill feelings. No matter how tired or how bad a day you have had, your wife does not have to suffer because of you. The worse your day has been, the greater will be the reward you will receive in Heaven for taking control of yourself and greeting your wife with a smile and some loving words of encouragement.

Our Sages say, "Be one of the students of Aharon, love peace and pursue it."6 When you always try to make others feel comfortable and at ease, then you have become a student of Aharon. And no where is this is this a more appropriate goal to pursue then within your own marriage.

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