Is it true that Rabbi Miller once said that a wife should avoid going to the bathroom when her husband would come in immediately afterwards? If so, please explain.
Now, this is a statement by Rav Chisda who admonished his daughters (Shabbos 140b). In the olden days they had no bathrooms, and he told his daughters that they should not go to a place on the fields where their husbands would come. And that is sound advice. A wife should always maintain the illusion that she eats roses. As silly as it may seem, it is nevertheless a fact that a husband can be kept all his life under the impression that his wife is nothing but a cloud of daintiness.
It’s only a careless woman who dispels that illusion and loses a precious capital. Of course you cannot avoid going to the bathroom when it’s necessary, but if you do go and you know that your husband will have to go after you, you make it your business to do what’s necessary. The place should be well aired and perfumed before you leave.
Those who wish to ridicule this, let them do so. But Rav Chisda was smarter. It’s very important to recognize the gashmiyus, the material relationship between a husband and wife. They don’t marry merely for spiritual relations. A husband regards a wife entirely different than teachers regard a talmidah. And to maintain this delicate relationship which is a combination of materialism and spiritualism, it’s necessary for a wife to be a chachoma. At all times she should look her best and in all other ways, create the most favorable impression. Even though it is sometimes burdensome – there is effort involved; it pays, it pays. Any amount of effort invested in maintaining this illusion is worthwhile.
Even eating in the presence of her husband should be done most daintily. It’s when the husband has not yet come home from work that she’s can dive in and really enjoy herself. She can slurp the soup and smack her lips and live it up. When he comes, if she sits down at the table with him, she’s already had her fill, and now she can eat like a little bird and her husband admires her as a spiritual being. So, you girls who think it’s funny, should know, that Rav Chisda was smarter.
TAPE #R-12 (October 1972)