Parshas Chayei Sarah
with Rav Avigdor Miller
The Splendid Home
Part I. The First Mikdash
The First Sanctuary
When we think about the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash it’s important to recognize that there was a churban that took place even before that. Before the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim, we had the Mishkan. The Mishkan that Moshe Rabeinu built in the Midbar with his own hands, וַיָּקֶם מֹשֶׁה אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן. Moshe was a big, strong man; he picked up the huge logs, the kerashim, and set it all up himself. Ahhh! The Beis Hamikdash that was built by Moshe our Teacher!
It’s true, it was much smaller than the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim; it was collapsible so that the Bnei Yisroel should be able to transport it from place to place for forty years. But this House of Hashem came before Dovid and Shlomo built the Beis Hamikdash, and the Shechinah dwelt in the Mishkan in a way that was never equaled again. What Shlomo HaMelech built later was not the same. It was tremendous, it was big and beautiful and filled with kedushah, but still they looked back with longing for those great days when we had a Beis Hamikdash in the wilderness.
And it lasted many years – don’t think it was just forty years. After the Bnei Yisroel crossed over the Yarden, that Mishkan that was built in the midbar stood in Shilo for another three hundred and sixty nine years. Forty years in the midbar and then another three hundred and sixty nine years in Shilo. That’s more than four hundred years that our nation benefited from the Mishkan built by Moshe Rabeinu. And therefore, when the Plishtim destroyed Mishkan Shiloit was a very great tragedy in our history.
The Ante-First Sanctuary
But the truth is that there was an even bigger churban that took place before the destruction of Mishkan Shilo. When we think about that day of וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה, when Sarah Imeinu passed away, you must understand that it wasn’t merely the death of the first of our Imahos. That itself would have been enough to cry about, absolutely, but it was much more than that. We have to know that it was a churban Beis Hamikdash; it was the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash of the Am Yisroel.
That’s the truth – the first and greatest churban haBayis was when Sarah passed away. The Ramban says that. In his introduction to Sefer Shemos he says that the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, dwelt in the tent of Avrohom and Sarah. And when they passed away, the Shechinah no longer had any place to be.
Of course, to a certain extent the Shechinah remained; because the other Avos and Imahos tried as much as possible to keep up the traditions. When Yitzchok wed Rivkah, it says b’feirush that “he brought her into the tent of Sarah, his mother” and then, וַיִּנָּחֵם יִצְחָק אַחֲרֵי אִמּוֹ – Yitzchok was consoled after his mother. What does that mean? His mother used to make kneidelach and therefore Rivkah now again started making kneidelach? Avrohom didn’t have servants who could make kneidelach for him? What was it that his mother gave Yitzchok that only Rivkah could console? Why couldn’t his father console him?
More Than Kneidelach
The answer is it was Rivkah who supplied what Sarah had formerly done. Sarah was the mother inside the tent. She made that place a Beis Hamikdash. Rivkah did her best to step into the shoes of Sarah Imeinu. It wasn’t the same, however. It wasn’t the same.
And later again, Yaakov and Rochel and Leah and then the shevatim, they lived extraordinary lives of dedication to Hashem, no question about it, and to a certain extent, the spirit still continued. But it didn’t compare with the tent that Avrohom and Sarah built. You have no idea of the perfection of Avrohom and Sarah, the perfection of the home they built together. There was nothing like it.
And therefore when Sarah passed away, that was the first churban; the presence of Hakodosh Boruch Hu went into exile at that time. And it remained in exile until the children of Yisrael passed through the great experiences, yetzias Mitzrayim and kriyas yam suf and matan Torah, and they were now elevated to such a very great degree of perfection that these great people were now able to come together to build a sanctuary, a Mishkan in the midbar, where the Shechinah that had resided at the tent of Avrohom and Sarah, could now finally come to rest again.
The Sanctuary Prototype
Now, to our ears that seems exaggerated. But you have to know that the menorah and shulchan in the Mishkan and theBeis Hamikdashwere only replicas of the menorah and shulchan in Sarah’s tent. When the kohanim brought korbanos and lit the menorah, when they put the lechem hapanim on the shulchan, it was an imitation. The shulchan was an imitation of the shulchan on which Avrohom and Sarah ate, and the menorah was an imitation of Sarah’s candles.
The Chachomim say that. The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 21:11) says that when Avrohom brought a par for each visitor, it was the prototype for the par of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. You hear such a thing?! The par of Yom Kippur was just an echo of the par that Avrohom slaughtered for every visitor. And you can be sure that the challos that Sarah made were a prototype for all the challos that were served in the Beis Hamikdash, the lachmei todah and the lechem hapanim and the shtei halechem. When Sarah was baking, she wasn’t baking. She was making a korban mincha. She was serving Hashem!
Everything that was done later in the Beis Hamikdash, everything done to cause the Shechinah to dwell among us, was following the prototype of what was done in that tent because that was the first Beis Hamikdash and whatever is written about that home is a model for the rest of our history.
Look To The Rock
You know, Yeshaya Hanavi tells us that if we want to achieve greatness in this world we have to look to Avrohom and Sarah and emulate them. In Yeshaya 51, at the beginning, the Navi says: שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי רֹדְפֵי צֶדֶק מְבַקְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם – Listen to me you who pursue righteousness, those who seek Hashem. So what is he going to tell us now? He’s going to tell us how to achieve our goal. Those who wish to become righteous and pursue closeness to Hashem, what’s the way? What should you do?
הַבִּיטוּ אֶל צוּר חֻצַּבְתֶּם – Look to the rock from which you were hewn out, וְאֶל מַקֶּבֶת בּוֹר נֻקַּרְתֶּם – and to the cistern, that’s a pit, from which you came forth (ibid.) Now what is the rock from which we were hewn out? What is the cistern, the well, from which we came forth?
So Yeshaya continues: הַבִּיטוּ אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֲבִיכֶם וְאֶל שָׂרָה תְּחוֹלֶלְכֶם – Look to Avrohom your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you. That’s the way! The greatness of our first father and mother, the perfection they achieved in the home, is the source for the greatness of our nation.
And so if you want to succeed in attaining tzedek and closeness to Hashem, look at them. Habitu means keep on looking. Study them, over and over again. Put your mind into it and be mimetic in whatever the Torah tells you about Avrohom and Sarah or whatever the Chachomim add peirushim about them. Every detail, every anecdote about them is a gem, and the more serious we are about it the more we can learn about them and gain greatness. You want to know about how to build a Beis Hamikdash of your own? Look at Avrohom and Sarah who together built a Beis Hamikdash.
Now there’s a lot to talk about. If we would sit here all day and all night speaking, and we would do it for years and years, it still wouldn’t be enough. But we have to try, at least a little bit, because we want to build a Mikdash like they did – at least a little bit. Every Jewish home is a Beis Hamikdash and we want to suffuse it with the atmosphere of Avrohom and Sarah.
Now, don’t think it’s just a mashal. That’s the truth; every home is a Mikdash. When a choson and kallah marry it’s exactly like building a Mikdash. That’s why if you come to a wedding, you’re already doing something extraordinary. כָּל הַמְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה כְּאִלּוּ בָּנָה אַחַת מֵחֻרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם – If you participate and make them happy at their wedding, it’s like you helped rebuild Yerushalayim (Brachos 6b). A marriage is a rebuilding of Yerushalayim; that’s what the Gemara says.
And that’s why if they break up their marriage, chalilah, מִזְבֵּחַ מוֹרִיד עָלָיו דְּמָעוֹת – the mizbeach weeps (Gittin 90b). Why does it weep? Why should the mizbeach weep if someone in Boro Park gives a get? Because a Beis Hamikdash has been destroyed. The Shechinah dwells in the Jewish home and just like the Shechinah departed when the Beis Hamikdashwas laid waste, the Shechinah departs when a Jewish home stops functioning.
We think it’s just words, meshalim. No, no. I’m not talking drush. We have no idea the kedushah in a Jewish home. In ancient times people understood that. A man once told me, he told this to me about sixty years ago. He had an old mother from Europe who lived with him. He remembered from when he was a boy his mother used to say, “Don’t sit on the table. A Jewish table is kodesh.”A little boy would sit on the table and the mother would shoo him off, “The table is kodesh.”
We have no idea of the holiness. It’s so remarkable I can’t describe it to you. I myself have no idea of such kedushah. But people lived for Hashem and they lived according to Hashem’s principles, with His ideals, and they understood the home was much more than a home, a place to live.
When The Angels Visit
Once upon a time people believed in ma’amarei Chazal k’peshuto. Everybody understood that when a man came home from shul with the boys Friday night he didn’t come alone. Two malochim came along with him. K’peshuto. They believed that k’peshuto. Two malochim came along with him. As they walked in the house, the mother and the daughters were standing all dressed up and greeting them and the malochim as they walked in the doorway. They said, “Good Shabbos.” It was an experience of feeling the kedushah.
And the malochim came into the house and the malochim saw the table was set. It was a poor little house. The candlesticks were nothing expensive. But they did their best. They took some chicken bones and made soup. Whatever it was, from their limited resources they made Shabbos. And the malochim gave them a blessing and they understood it was a blessing. They felt that blessing. Everyone felt the presence of the kedushah that the malochim brought into the house. And it lasted all week; all week the house was kadosh.
Now, it’s true that some of that greatness has been lost but it’s not lost entirely. Boruch Hashem, there are beautiful Jewish homes today. No question, there’s kedushah in every Jewish home today. Those who keep the Torah, no question. The malochim still come. Whether you think about them or not, they come anyhow. There’s no question that the house where Jews live and practice the Torah is a makom kadosh.
And therefore when a chosson and kallah marry and move into a home, they have to know that it’s an opportunity to accomplish to create a makom kadosh and bring the presence of Hashem to the Am Yisrael. And don’t think that it’s agav orcha. You might think the main purpose of being a Jew is to go to the beis hakenesses. Oh no! It’s very important, no question, but the most important function of the Am Yisrael is building your home as a replica of the Beis Hamikdash.
Changing Of The Guard
I want to talk to you now about a certain procedure that took place in the Beis Hamikdash. It seems like a small detail but you’ll see soon how important it is, especially for our subject. The Gemara says that every week, on Shabbos, the shift of the kohanim who were working in the Beis Hamikdash changed. The family of kohanim that had served all week, they went out and a new mishmar, a different family of kohanim, came in for the ensuing week.
Now, the Gemara there (Brachos 12a) tells us about an interesting thing that took place when this exchange of shifts was made. מִשְׁמָר הַיּוֹצֵא אוֹמֵר לְמִשְׁמָר הַנִּכְנָס – The family of kohanim who are coming in now to start their week of work in the Beis Hamikdashare standing together in a group and the family of kohanim that are leaving are facing them; and the ones leaving give a brocha to the ones who are coming in.
Now pay attention to the blessing they pronounce: מִי שֶׁשִּׁכֵּן אֶת שְׁמוֹ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה – The One Who caused His name to dwell in this House, הוּא יַשְׁכִּין בֵּינֵיכֶם – He should cause among you, the incoming ones, the new mishmor, אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת – love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.
A Beautiful Brocha
Now that blessing seems to us a puzzle. Because when the new mishmar comes in, they’re being entrusted now by the nation with the whole avodas Beis Hamikdash. And that’s something that is extremely complicated; it’s lomdus and you must know many details. And an error, even the slightest imperfect thought, can chalilah make a korban pigul or possul.
So why didn’t they give them a blessing that they should do the avodah correctly, without any mistakes? If I was there I would have said, “The One who rests His name in this House should help you do all the details of the avodas Hashem properly.” That’s most important. וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ אֶת שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי – if you bring the wrong kind of a korban it’s a sin, a chilul Hashem (Vayikra 22:32).
And I would add, “And you should merit the siyatta dishmaya to do it lishmah too.” Not only perfectly in maaseh butthe mind too. Sometimes you can do the avodah just because of mitzvas anoshim melumadah. It’s a pity to serve Hashem without thinking and so I would add that into the blessing.
That would be a beautiful brocha for the family of kohanim entering the Beis Hamikdash: “The One who rests His name in this Home should help you fulfill all the details without any errors and you should merit to do it all l’sheim Shomayim.”
The Most Important Requirement
But no, the blessing is nothing like that; nothing is mentioned in this brocha except for peace and brotherhood. “You should live together b’shalom. Youshould get along with each other and live in harmony and achdus and friendship.”
It’s a remarkable thing! Is that what you came here for?! You’re coming to the Beis Hamikdash for friendship, for shalom?! It’s a family gathering?! You’re coming here to serve Hashem, to bring the korbanos! You’re coming to bring the menachos and ketores and to light the menorah.
And so we’re learning something new now. Absolutely you’re coming into the Beis Hamikdash to serve Hashem. But in what way? What’s the most important way, the first way to succeed in avodas Hashem? The answer is by not quarreling with each other; by being kind to each other and helping each other. By loving each other and living in peace.
Of course you must take care of all the details of the avodah. Absolutely you shouldn’t make anything possul, and absolutely you should do it l’sheim Shomayim, no question about it. But the very first and most important requirement is it should be with ahavah between the kohanim. If you wish the Shechinah should dwell in the Beis Hamikdash, number one on the list is that the kohanim who are serving there, should be serving together with אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת between themselves.
Praying For Harmony
And it’s no coincidence that we find those same exact words in the sheva brochos, when we bless the chosson and kallah. Because they’re going now into their own little Beis Hamikdash. Now, it’s not in Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh. And it’s not a big beautiful edifice. Could be it’s a small rundown apartment somewhere in Crown Heights or Flatbush. The pipe under the sink is always springing a leak and there are mice that run around at night. No matter! That little home is a Beis Hamikdash. And when you walk into that home, number one on the list is אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת – love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.
And so as the chosson and kallah are standing under the chuppah, a frum chosson is saying a tefillah. He’s shaking back and forth. The kallah is holding a little sefer, saying tefillos. Wonderful! What are her tefillos about? Everything! Everything is important! But number one her tefillos should be that no matter how mean and stubborn the chosson is, that she should be polite to him always. And him too; the number one tefillah for him should be that no matter how wild and narish his wife will be, he’ll always be polite to her. They’re both davening that they should always treat each other with only respect.
The Mule and The Fool
Don’t think it’s not an important tefillah. Because every husband is stubborn. And every wife is narish. Everybody is foolish. You’ll find out when you get married. All husbands are stubborn like mules, this you have to know. There isn’t a husband who is not stubborn like a mule. And there isn’t a woman who is not frantic about it like a wild cat. They’re not what you thought they were. It’s always different than you imagined.
And if you think that what I’m saying is superfluous, let me tell you, that’s the first thing you have to learn! You know, if it was up to me, I would institute in all the girl’s schools – in all the seminaries – courses for success in marriage. I used to speak to the Bais Yaakov girls frequently and when I brought up this topic of studying for success in marriage they thought of it as a waste of time. They wanted to hear – the good girls wanted to hear – about the mefarshim, what the Malbim says, what the Kli Yakar says, what this peirush says. Now that’s wonderful. But the most important peirush is: what does Hakodosh Boruch Hu say on the subject of living with another person in the same house?
A Spirit of Love
And so when we’re building a Mikdash of marriage, there are many things you have to think about. What things are you going to bring into your home? Certain things can’t be brought in. You can’t have a television or gentile newspapers in a Beis Hamikdash.
You have to think about how you’re going to raise children. You’re not raising children in a home like the rest of the world does. You’re bringing them up in a Mikdash. What’s going to be the spirit of learning Torah in that Mikdash? What’s going to be the attitude towards tzadikim? Towards mitzvos? What’s going to be the table talk in the house? There are many things to think about.
But the very first thing you have to think about is אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת, love and brotherhood and peace and friendship. Between the husband and wife, between the siblings, between the children and parents. Everything is important but the first idea is you’re coming into a house to build a place where the Shechinah wants to dwell. מִי שֶׁשִּׁכֵּן אֶת שְׁמוֹ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה, The One who rests His name in this Jewish home, הוּא יַשְׁכִּין בֵּינֵיכֶם אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת, He should make peace between you. That’s the very first, the foundation of all the requirements, if you want the Shechinah to dwell in your house.
Shalom Brings Holiness
And that’s the attitude that maintains the kedushah of the home. That’s what maintains the holiness of the home where the malochim come in, the holiness of the table, the holiness in the kitchen and living room and bedrooms. It mostly depends on this one thing: Shalom!
Like the Gemara says, אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה שָׁלוֹם בֵּינֵיהֶם שְׁכִינָה בֵּינֵיהֶם (Sotah 17). When there is shalom between a husband and wife, the Shechinah resides between them. What’s the difference between אִישׁ and אִשָּׁה? He has a yud and she has a hei. A yud-kei, Hashem’s name. That’s how it’s explained by the Maharsha; there’s a י-ה between them. But it’s not a mashal – it’s actually so! The Shechinah is in your midst. At the wedding, they start out with that attitude of shalom. When he says, “הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת לִי”, it’s a language of kedushah, which means at the outset, there are three partners in a wedding. The Shechinah is there at the wedding at the beginning.
Only, they mustn’t chase it away. Every chosson and kallah, it doesn’t matter if they married yesterday or fifty years ago, they have the function of maintaining the Shechinah in the home. That’s an integral part of their lives – as human beings, and especially as shomrei Torah. The oved Hashem must understand that his and her function in life is to maintain the presence of the Shechinah in his marriage no less than it was at the beginning when there was only shalom.
Happily Ever After
Now, don’t get mixed up when you hear these words and think like a gentile. It doesn’t mean that romance will be there no less than in the beginning. Forget about that. The young princess you married when she was eighteen; she was slim and beautiful, now she’s fat and she’s wrinkled maybe. It can’t be helped. And what are you anyway? You’re not the same Prince Charming. Far from it! It’s ridiculous! It’s unreal to expect those feelings to exist forever! You have to be realistic. You’re using the same bathroom. You sit and eat together. Sometimes you don’t like the way she chews her food; she makes too much noise when she eats. Or she talks too much. Sometimes she doesn’t like his ways either.
You know, in the old time romance novels a husband and wife always lived happily ever after. That was always the end of the story. Now, to a certain extent it’s a good attitude but actually it’s impossible! It’s unreal and people are in for a very big disappointment. It’s a pusteh chalom, an empty dream. The imaginary ideas that have been foisted upon us by Western culture over the last 300, 400 years are 95% false and it makes life impossible to live because we expect these attitudes to remain forever without any work.
Romance is only before marriage. You know that? It’s an instinct, that’s all. It’s nothing more than two dogs meeting in the street. It’s the same instinct that you see when the male dog is barking on the street. In order to bring romance to an end you get married and now it’s something else.
וַתְּהִי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ – And Rivkah became Yitzchok’s wife and he loved her (Chayei Sarah 24:67). After Yitzchok and Rivkah were married, that’s when they loved each other. And the love that develops after marriage as in the case of Yitzchok, that’s the love of a very close and near relative. Your wife is your closest relative, a special kind of relative, and that feeling of affection and love certainly develops and ripens with the years.
So of course there’s a happily ever after. You’ll walk down together to the chuppah at your grandchildren’s weddings! You’ll be buried together in the cemetery and you’ll be together in Olam Haba too. Sure, why not? But there’s an essential ingredient needed to create that eternal bond of marriage. And we’re learning now that number one is shalom veshalvah; number one is אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת. It means a lifetime devoted to the principle of respect and affection and loyalty and helping one another. Even when you’re married fifty, sixty, seventy years that ideal continues to be the number one principle – אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת.
Opportunity For Love
Now, there’s a special mitzvah in the Torah that everybody knows, but it’s not spoken about enough. And that’s וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ. If you’re a frum Jew, this has to be one of the major roles in your attempt to serve Hashem. Anybody who wants to serve Hashem, even in a moderate way, must make up his mind that this is going to be a major target of his life’s aspiration.
But what is overlooked by many people is that one of the most important opportunities to fulfill this mitzvah, or chas v’shalom the opposite, is in the home with a spouse. וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ means that a husband is mechuyav to love his wife like himself; and vice versa. Now, whatever that means exactly we’ll explain soon but it’s an obligation that stands behind the whole marriage.
I’ll explain that. The Gemara says (Kiddushin 41a), that when a man is about to marry somebody, he shouldn’t do it through an intermediary. He should first go and take a look at his intended because later, if he didn’t see who he was marrying, he might be disappointed and he won’t fulfill properly the commandment of וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ. So you see that this mitzvah that you should love your fellow Jew applies to your wife just as well as anybody else.
Obligation To Love
The truth is it applies much more to your wife. I’ll explain that briefly. Pirkei Avos tells us an important principle for Torah living: הַכֹּל לְפִי רֹב הַמַּעֲשֶׂה – Everything depends on how numerous the number of acts are (Avos 3:15). If a mitzvah is done once, there’s a reward for it, if a mitzvah is done many times there’s a much bigger reward.
And Rabeinu Yonah explains that it’s not just because you did it more times. It becomes exponentially greater; even the smallest mitzvah repeated a number of times, he says, is like taking thin cords and twisting them together, and then twisting more of them together, and finally it becomes a big, heavy rope. That’s how great it is to repeat a mitzvah over again.
Now, what situation is presented to a man or a woman that gives them the opportunity to repeat again and again the mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew? There’s nothing like marriage. Because your uncle, your neighbor, your friend, you’ll come into contact with him here and there. It’s good but it’s nothing compared to your wife. You’re in contact with your wife all the time. You’ll have tens, maybe hundreds of opportunities every day, thousands every week. It’s like a thousand different people!
And so when a person is married, he must make up his mind that no matter what, he’s going to love his mate. You can’t escape it. And she too should have that in mind. There’s no way around it; you’re mechuyav to love your spouse.
Love Your Husband
Did you ever try that? You see your husband, a fat, old fellow, waddling in the street; short and fat. You have to say, “I love that man.” It’s a mitzvah min haTorah! Why not? Hashem loves fat, short people. If they are Jews, shomrei Torah, He loves them intensely, more than anything in the world. And He loves them, so we love them too.
Now the fact that he’s your husband doesn’t mean that he’s deprived of that right. Actually, the fact that he’s your husband obligates you to concentrate on him more than anybody else. Halevai you should love him a fraction of what Hashem loves him!
You have to work on it. And if you do it, Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give you reward. What reward? Little by little, you’ll actually feel it. הַחִיצוֹנִיּוּת מְעוֹרֶרֶת אֶת הַפְּנִימִיּוּת. Little by little it’ll percolate down from your head into your heart.
Love Your Wife
You see your wife walking in the street; she gave you a good tongue lashing when she walked out of the house this morning and you’re still angry at her. You see her now walking in the street, she’s coming back from the store carrying shopping bags. So you say, “I love that woman! She’s bringing home food for us and she’s going to slave away in the hot kitchen so that we can enjoy our meals. I love her!”
Of course, if you say these words and then when she comes into the home you’re a tyrant, so it’s not worth much. If you’re complaining about how much money she spent, so you’re upending the principle of אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת. The wife too; if she says she loves her husband but as soon as he walks in the door she begins to chew his ear off, to nag him constantly, then it’s not worth as much.
Because when we say shalom and love and friendship, we expect real results to come forth from that mitzvah. It requires constant care with words. Politeness should always reign supreme in the house. Just like you feel differently when you’re asked to do something politely, so you always ask your wife, “Please.” You say, “Sarah, will you please hand me this-and-this.”
Of course, the best thing is to get up and hand it to yourself. I don’t like it when husbands sit at the table and call to the kitchen, “Sarah, a little more sugar, please”,
“a little more of this.” What are you, a cripple? Boruch Hashem, you have two good feet! Get up you lazy fellow, and do it yourself! But if you have to ask, say “Please” each time; at least that much.
When the wife needs money for the children she comes and says, “Chaim, I need money to buy shoes for the children, please.” And he says, “Of course, Chana, here it is.” And she says, “Thank you.” Now, it’s all superfluous because that’s his job; he has to supply that money. But by saying please and thank you, she has lubricated the relations of life.
Not only politeness. Respect. Shalom means to respect each other. Of course, they don’t insult each other but even more than that, a certain amount of kavod you have to show. You have derech eretz when you talk to each other. You know once you’re married, she’s not always putting on earrings and she’s not always painting her face. You see her as the plain person that she actually is. And she sees you sometimes with your suspenders, without your kapote. And so you might look down on each other. No; you have to be careful with the kavod of each other always. Always do things in a way that demonstrates a certain regard for your mate.
And Hashem is between them when they’re respecting each other. Shechinah beineihem! Hashem says, “They are respecting Me. I’m there now because they’re living with an awareness of the kedushah that reigns supreme in the Jewish home.” And that’s how they become successful. Not just successful in having a happy home. That’s very important but it’s not everything. It’s success in avodas Hashem. It’s how you build the Beis Hamikdash.
Now, I know that it’s easy for me to say these words and it’s easy for you to listen, but living that way, it’s not as easy. And so you always find ways to think thoughts that will encourage that attitude of the mind.
Years Of Gratitude
Here’s a woman, she’s working in the kitchen; why shouldn’t she donate one minute to think thoughts of respect, of gratitude, of appreciation. “My husband is sitting all day long in Manhattan. He hates it there. He’d like to be back in the yeshivah, but he wants to support the family. He’s laboring. Money doesn’t grow on trees. It’s very hard to make a living with competitors and difficult customers, and still every day he went loyally. He did his job and brought the money home. He’s paying the rent. He buys us garments. He paid for the grocery bills. He paid the butcher. He pays the tuition for the children. How grateful we are to Chaim!”
Andthe chosson all his life should appreciate the kallah. When she’s an old kallah of 90 years old and he’s an old chosson also of 90 odd years, he should still appreciate his kallah. The fact is, even more. A loyal husband is thinking all the time, “Look at all that she did for me all those years. גְּמָלַתְהוּ טוֹב, she did to me kindliness, כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיה, all the days of her life.”
How many times did she cook good meals for him? She said, “Chaim, can I give you a glass of orange juice?” “Chaim, do you want a piece of cake?” How many times did she offer him tidbits? All her life. All her life.
So it’s not only at the beginning, under the chuppah, the chosson looks at the kallah and she looks at her chosson, they’re nice-looking young people. They’re well–dressed now for the chasunah too. That’s not the only time they should appreciate each other. The older they get the more they should study this sugya. By means of constantly reviewing these ideas in their thoughts they learn to appreciate each other more and more as the years go by.
Andbetter yet, they can express the thoughts to each other. You’re bashful? It’s already thirty years and you never did it before? Do it anyhow. Did you ever hear a woman say that? “My husband, we are very grateful for all that you do for us.”
And he should always say to her, “My wife, your cooking is delicious. You’re raising up the children; an excellent job you’re doing. The house is nice and clean. You’re doing your best. I certainly appreciate what you’re doing.” Each one has to express gratitude to the other one.
And it’s by means of living this way, that’s how you live successfully. That’s what Hashem is looking for; and He’s living between both of you just because of that, just because you understand what the first and most important function of building a Beis Hamikdash and a home is.
Ups, Downs and Idealism
What is the first function of the kohanim in the Mikdash? It’s a function of מִי שֶׁשִּׁכֵּן אֶת שְׁמוֹ בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה – The One Who caused His name to dwell in this House, הוּא יַשְׁכִּין בֵּינֵיכֶם – He should cause among you, the incoming ones, the new mishmor, אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת – love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. That’s also the obligation you assume when you marry, and no matter how you are tried and tested, you should never yield. You have to fight the yetzer hora of arrogance, of selfishness, of trying to vent your feelings on your partner. It should always be your principle to maintain אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת in the house, no matter what.
Now, nobody is a malach, nobody is completely successful; there are ups and downs, there are failures, sometimes there are minor tragedies. But always a husband and wife should keep before their eyes, a mutual ideal, “We want this place to be the Beis Hamikdash. It’s the only home we’ll ever have on this little earth. And therefore in our short, little lives, why shouldn’t we try to make the best of it? And if we live successfully, even partially successfully, by being kindly to each other, and by serving Hakodosh Boruch Hu by the means of successful living together, then we’ve lived on this earth for a purpose.”
Have A Wonderful Shabbos
Building A Splendid Sanctuary
We have the opportunity to invite the Shechinah into our homes, just as Sarah transformed her humble tent into a sanctuary. The first requirement of those who enter the Mikdash is to pray for peace, because that is what makes the Mikdash an appropriate place for the Shechinah to rest. This week I will bli neder spend one minute each day thinking of ways to increase harmony and thus kedushah in my home.
Tapes: 516 – Eternal Sanctuary of Marriage | 574 – Splendid Home | 620 – Ten Commandments of Marriage | E-50 – Ten Commandments of Marriage II | E-142 – Seven Brachos Of Marriage