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Beloved Comanions - Insights on Domestic Tranquility From the Weekly Parsha

by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Expressing Love

And his soul clung to Dinah the daughter of Ya'akov, and he loved the maiden, and spoke kindly unto her... And Chamor spoke with them, saying, "The heart of my son Shechem desires your daughter; please give her to him for a wife."... And the young man did not hesitate to do the thing, because he wanted the daughter of Ya'akov; and he was the most honored person in all of the house of his father. (BERESHIS 34:3, 8, 19)

After his marriage, Rabbi Ya'akov Lorberbaum, the famous author of Chavas Daas, went into business with a partner. It happened once that a financial disagreement arose between the partners, and the matter was brought before the local rabbi, who was younger than Rabbi Ya'akov and also less learned. The local rabbi heard both sides, and then ruled in favor of Rabbi Ya'akov's partner, saying that Rabbi Ya'akov had to pay his partner damages.

Rabbi Ya'akov was convinced that the decision was mistaken and he left the rabbi angrily. In the evening his partner went to visit him, and rebuked him for his behavior, saying that he should have accepted the rabbi's decision.

Rabbi Ya'akov answered, "How can I accept a decision that is wrong?"

"Well, if that's what you think," challenged the partner, "Let's take out the Shulchan Aruch and look it up. Then we'11 see if he was right or wrong."

After searching in the Choshen Mishpat section of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Ya'akov found to his surprise that the local rabbi was actually correct in his decision, and he was the one who had made a mistake.

"You see," said the partner "now I think it appropriate that you go and ask forgiveness from the rabbi for the way you acted when he gave his decision."

"Just ask forgiveness?" replied RabbiYa'akov, "I have to go and ask him to give me an official reprimand (nezifah) for my despicable behavior."

With that Rabbi Ya'akov went to see the rabbi. When he got there, he took off his shoes, and admitted that the rabbi was correct in his decision, and he then asked to be given an official reprimand.

This incident made a great impression on the people of the town, since Rabbi Ya'akov, a renowned posek and author, had enough humility to admit that he was wrong and to insist that he be reprimanded by the much younger rabbi. As a result of this incident the two rabbis became friends, and greatly respected and loved one another. (HIZAHARU Bl-CHVOD CHAVRElCHEM, p. 231)

Rabbi Ya'akov managed to use his mistake to begin a true friendship and to engender love between himself and the other rabbi. So too must we use all means possible to establish and enhance the love between ourselves and our spouses. Love must be expressed constantly in order for it to flourish.

Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish said, "G-d and Israel share a love described with three phrases of endearment: clinging, desiring and wanting.

Clinging, as it is written, 'And you, who cling to G-d, your L-rd;' desiring, as it is written, 'G-d desires you;' and wanting, as it is written, 'That you will be a wanted land.'

We learn it from the descriptions of [the love for Dinah felt by] the wicked one [Shechem, son of Chamor]. The Torah used the phrase 'clinging': 'And his soul clung to Dinah the daughter of Ya'akov.' He used the phrase 'desiring': 'The heart of my son Shechem desires your daughter.' He used the phrase 'wanting': 'And the young man did not hesitate to do the thing, because he wanted the daughter of Ya'akov. (YALKUT 134)

How is it possible that we can we learn how to articulate our love for G-d from the descriptions of the love felt by such a wicked person as Shechem?

Do we need to find different phrases to express our love?

There is a general principle, that we can learn from our physical urges how we should yearn to fulfill our obligations to G-d. This rule is demonstrated in the verse where it says: "If you will seek it as silver, and search for it as a hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of G-d." Since the craving for wealth, such as silver and treasure, is a deeply imbedded human desire, we should learn from it the amount of effort required of us in our search for the fear of Heaven.

When we are searching for a way of expressing our love for G-d and our desire to be close to Him, we cannot find a hefter example than that of how Shechem expressed his passion for Dinah. Shechem was a person who lived only for love and desire. His desire was so strong, that he convinced his father and later his entire nation to comply with the unusually severe terms that the sons of Ya'akov had imposed upon them, just so that he could be able to satisfy his desires.

And so this is why, when we want to learn how to express love for G-d, Shechem is the best example to follow, because the love and desire he felt was the most ardent possible. We can apply his example of physical love to learn how strong and deep a love can possibly be, then apply this lesson to a spiritual context in order to teach us how much we must strive to love G-d.

To develop such a powerful love requires expressing one's own feelings of closeness and appreciation in a variety of ways. It is not enough to say simply that you love someone; when you say it in many different ways, you show how strong that love is. The love itself becomes stronger in your heart when you talk about it sincerely and ardently. This is true of both human love and our love for G-d. We see that just as it works in the case in human love, so too, when we find a variety of ways to express our love for G-d, then the love in our hearts grows stronger.

Express Your Love for Your Spouse in Words

In marriage it is very important and necessary to learn to I verbally express your love. If you feel love in your heart, your spouse needs to be told about it, so that she can return the love that you feel.

The more ways you express your love, the more the message will get across to your spouse that you deeply love her. It should be conveyed through verbal expression, and of course these words must be accompanied by suitable actions, such as helping out, spending time together, bringing your spouse an occasional gift, etc. Each time a spouse expresses love, the love itself becomes stronger. Every expression of love adds a new layer of reinforcement to the structure of a marriage.

Some men try to demonstrate their love by showing physical affection to their wives. But women need more than that. They also want to hear words that express admiration. They long for their husbands to tell them how much they are appreciated. You must show your love in words as well as actions. Words will give deeper meaning to your actions, and in actions will give content to your words.

Every person needs encouragement. By giving our spouses the proper encouragement, the bond between us becomes stronger, since our spouses see that we believe in them. Do not hesitate to express to your spouse something positive you perceive about them. These words of encouragement greatly help your spouse to succeed, and also generate more love between the two of you.

If a person is involved in business or other activities, he is liable to forget to express his love for his wife. Is business or any other activity in the world more important than your marriage? Marriage is like a flower that must be nurtured and carefully tended; without the necessary attention it will wither. Make yourself a note to help you to remember to bring home a small gift for your wife or to take her out somewhere at least once a month or even once a week It is also a good idea to call home from work in the middle of the day just to show your wife that you love her.

When a person first gets married, love is expressed constantly. But as time goes on, it is taken more for granted. In reality, the longer people are married the more they should show their love for their spouses since they have much more to be thankful for. If love is not shown, it can eventually disappear entirely. The way of strengthening love between a couple is for each partner to show the love that they feel in their hearts through words and actions.

When a spouse shows love, the other must be careful to return it. If a woman went out of her way to make a special dish or to get dressed nicely for her husband, then he must show that he notices it and reciprocate. If a husband brings a gift to his wife, or he offers to help her, she must show her love in response. When a spouse initiates an act or words of kindness it is doubly important to respond in kind lest the other feel hurt.

Just as G-d shows His love to us by expressing it in so many ways, so must we also express our love to our spouses in many different ways. This can only strengthen a marriage and make it blossom like a beautiful flower.

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