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Bringing Peace Into Our Homes
By Rabbanith Ruth Menashe
If you were asked what relationships are most meaningful in your life, what would you answer?
If you are hesitating about what your response should be, perhaps the following Midrash will give you a helpful hint. A couple that had been married for ten years was not blessed with children. They approached Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, ‘a”h, and asked him to arrange a divorce. His reply was, “Just like you started your joined life with a festive meal, so too you must separate with a festive meal.” And they did. The husband, who had some wine, told his wife during the meal to choose any valuables she wished from their home and take it to her father’s house. What did she do? When he fell asleep, she asked her servant to carry her sleeping husband in his bed to her parents’ house.
When the effect of the alcohol wore off, the husband awoke and, to his surprise, found himself at his in-laws’ home. When he questioned his wife, she gave him the following explanation. “Didn’t you tell me to take any valuables I wanted from our home with me? There is nothing more precious to me than you.” The two returned to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, who prayed for them to have children and his prayer was answered.
Not only should we constantly remind ourselves what the most meaningful relationship in our life is, but we should be constantly aware of our powerful ability to build, nurture and even bring new life into the relationship.
The Ben Ish Hai in his holy work, “The Laws for Women,” illustrates this point with the following anecdote. One lady’s parents had an argument with their son in law, upon which, they advised her to divorce him. Their daughter answered: “My dear father, I was married to my husband even before I was born, as it was arranged in Heaven. Even if you separate us physically, mentally we will remain as one. I will never exchange him for anyone else in the world.” Upon hearing those words, her father blessed her and admitted that she was right. The Ben Ish Hai concludes this story by blessing every single woman who does her utmost to bring love and peace into the relationship.
One of the most important factors in creating a close and harmonious connection between a husband and his wife is their character traits. When Abraham Abinu, ‘a”h, (Abraham) was looking for a wife for his beloved son Isaac, he instructed his servant Eliezer not to take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites. Rather, he sent him to his birthplace of Haran, to find a wife there.
The question arises as to the reasoning behind Abraham Abinu’s, ‘a”h, instruction. The inhabitants of both places were idol worshippers. Why then would he prefer a girl from Haran? The answer is that the inner qualities of the Canaanites were inappropriate. In fact, Eli’ezer did not choose Ribqa Immenu, ‘a”h, (Rebecca) when he witnessed the miracle of the water in the well ascending towards her. He only knew Ribqa Immenu was the right wife for his master’s son when she displayed her well known act of kindness by giving water to Eli’ezer and his camels. It was her character that he was interested in, and not the fact that miracles were wrought for her.
We see from here a clear indication of how crucial it is to improve and refine our middoth (character traits). Instead of asking ourselves “What changes would I like to see in my husband,” let us examine ourselves and ask: “What middah do I need to improve? What area can I grow in? Am I lacking in the area of showing respect and appreciation for my spouse? Do I need to exercise more patience and self-control? Am I sensitive to my husband’s needs?” The questions are numerous and the work is a lifetime commitment, yet the results are lasting and the blessings are immeasurable. As the holy Ben Ish Hai said – a woman who invests all her strengths into the building of her home, shall be blessed with wealth, abundance of good, and long life.
qanun il nisa, kanun il nisa, hukei hanashim, shimon bar yochai, ben ish chai, rabbi yosef chaim from baghdad, yishaq, yishak abinu, yitzhak, yitzchak avinu, avraham avinu, avrohom ovinu, rivka imenu, eliezer, charan, women’s torah, rabbanit ruth menashe, rebbetzin ruth menashe, midrash ben ish hai, midrash ben ish chai