When issues arise within Jewish life—be it marriage, self-esteem, or family relations—where do we turn for advice and resolution? The ultimate guide, our Holy Torah. As the holiday of Shavuot approaches, and we again stand on Mount Sinai to re-enact our covenant with the Divine commandments, the Avner Institute presents several letters where the Rebbe asserts the need for Torah law in restoring peace and harmony between husband and wife, instilling communal involvement, and inspiring others toward religious observance.
Dedicated in memory of loving memory of Hadassah Lebovic A”h
“To Resolve the Problems”
Mr. & Mrs. ________ 5733
K’far Chabad, Israel
Greeting and Blessing:
I am in receipt of your letter, following on the personal conversation we had when you were here. Although it is not my custom to repeat in writing things already discussed orally, I will, at any rate, put down in writing several points, since you have urgently requested it.
With regard to most of the problems about which you write, there is the promise of our Sages, of blessed memory, “Try hard and you will succeed.”1 In other words, if you are truly and wholeheartedly determined to resolve the problems, you will find the proper way to do so.
On the question of how to achieve an easier adjustment in the family life of husband and wife, it should be remembered first of all that indeed it happens very often that such an adjustment is required, inasmuch as there are two people involved, who come from two different families, etc. It should also be remembered that there is no such thing as human perfection and that one person must make allowances for the other, in the same way that one expects the other to make such allowances.
With regard to the question of temper, and especially where we are speaking of anger, this weakness can be controlled by reflecting on the verse, “I visualize G-d before me always,”2 which is also the introduction to the first part of the Shulchan Aruch, and thus an introduction to the entire code regulating Jewish behavior in the daily life. By reflecting upon the fact that one is always–at every moment–in the presence of G-d, how is it possible for him to sink so far as to display any kind of temper?
So that the shared intimate life may be wholesome to the utmost, it is necessary to observe strictly the laws and regulations of taharat hamishpachah [Laws of Family Purity]. For, although these laws require separation for a certain period of time, this distancing has the effect of bringing the couple closer together in the period that follows, while closeness during the time that requires separateness results in separateness when there should be closeness. Thus, in the majority of cases, true harmony and peace in married life are directly related to the observance of the laws and regulations of taharat hamishpachah.
With regard to exercising influence on relatives and friends with a view to bringing them closer to Torah and mitzvot–needless to say, it depends on the psychological makeup of the persons so to be influenced, as well as their knowledge, intellectual level, etc., these being factors which must be taken into consideration in each case. However, there is one general point that should be applied in all cases, and that is that the approach, while it must be firm, must also be a friendly one. Do not be discouraged if first efforts do not immediately bring the desired response; we have the assurance that words coming from the heart penetrate the heart and do eventually have an effect, especially when coupled with a living example. If, for some reason, the efforts seem to be unsuccessful, the fault will probably lie with the person making the effort, whose approach, apparently, is not the right one, well-intentioned though it may be.
In connection with the happy expectation, may G-d grant a normal and complete pregnancy, and the normal delivery of a healthy child in a happy and auspicious hour.
“To Restore Peace and Harmony”
Mrs. ________ 5730
Blessing and Greeting:
I received your letter with considerable delay.
I trust it is unnecessary to emphasize to you at length that the Jewish way of life, together with its customs, etc., is not only very significant in general, but also in every detail and in the very order of things. In light of this, it becomes obvious how important are peace and harmony between a husband and wife, since the mitzvah of making peace between a husband and wife is counted among the mitzvot whose fruits a Jew enjoys in this world, while the “capital” remains for the World-to-Come.1 These are mentioned right at the beginning of the Siddur–together with the morning blessings, which are said even before starting the actual morning prayers.
With this approach in mind, it will prove somewhat easier to understand that even if one party were to be completely in the right (or almost completely in the right), while the other party was completely in the wrong (or almost completely in the wrong), it would still be incumbent upon both parties to do everything in their power to restore peace and harmony. Certainly, this duty becomes paramount in the case of a husband and wife who hold prominent positions in the community, as a result of which other Jews look up to them for example and guidance.
Clearly, an outsider cannot know, nor can he be told, what compelling reasons there might be for such a situation. The outsider can only observe and draw his own conclusions, since he will not inquire about, nor is it possible to inform him of, all the factors and extenuating circumstances, should there be any. Add to this the fact that it concerns a couple, both of whom are active in the sphere of Jewish education.
Moreover, and of course this is also most essential, since G-d has blessed you with children, good children, who require the attention, love and upbringing of both parents, and these children are surely entitled to receive what is due to them from their parents–there can be no shadow of a doubt that each of you should do everything possible not to strain the relationship further, but on the contrary, both of you must try to strengthen it and restore it to full harmony.
As to the situation itself, namely, who is right and who is wrong, I cannot, of course, go into this, nor is it necessary in light of what has been said above. For the important thing, as already stated, is to strengthen the family ties, this being the overriding consideration. However, it would be well if you could find a mutual friend before whom both of you could unburden yourselves in a frank exchange of grievance. It is possible that an outsider, who at the same time is a friend, might see more objectively, and find the best way to straighten things out, and in the soonest possible time, so that once again peace and harmony may reign in the home.
Hoping to hear good news from you,
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