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Lech Lecha

"Hashem said to Avram, 'Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you'" (Bereishis 12:1).

I was privileged to marry my eishes chayil right before the summer of 1969. A few weeks later, we visited one of my Rebbeim, HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Varshavchik z"l, in the bungalow colony where he was vacationing in the Catskill Mountains. He received us with his typical warm smile and spoke to the newlyweds for a while. He told my new bride how a wife is supposed to value her husband.

In this week's parashah, we learn about one of the ten trials of our Patriarch Avraham. He was commanded to abandon his entire family and his homeland and migrate to another land. We can well imagine how difficult it was for him to make such a drastic, extreme move.

"However," Rav Varshavchik asked, "why is it not counted as a trial for our Matriarch Sarah? After all, she had to do the exact same thing that he did.

"The answer," he said, "is that for Sarah it was not at all difficult, since she was going with her husband. A wife is supposed to feel that anywhere she is, no matter what the conditions are, as long as she has her husband at her side, she is blessed."

He also told us about the wife of the Gaon, HaRav Yeshaya Shimanovitz z"l. She used to say, "How does Reb Aharon Kotler ztvk"l (perhaps the greatest Torah scholar of the generation) even compare to my husband? My husband is a much greater learner than he is!"

Rav Varshavchik said that others used to laugh at her whenever she said it, but he found it very favorable. "That is the way a wife is supposed to value her husband," he said. "As far as she is concerned, he is the greatest in the world - no one even comes close to him."

On the other hand, my mentor, HaGaon HaRav Ya'akov Kaminetsky zt"l used to discuss the reason that many couples have trouble living in harmony. "We find in Chazal that the first woman, Chavah, referred to her husband, Adam, as 'my Master.' Today's men," Reb Ya'akov said, "would like their wives to respect them that way too. However, the wife sees, more than anyone else, how he behaves when no one else is around to impress. If he wants to be respected by his wife, he has to act in a respectful manner."

Reb Shabsie Yudelevitz z"l used to quote the Gerrer Rebbe ztvk"l that there are two who know a man as he really is: Hashem and his wife!


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