A Practical Guide for Husband and Wife – Part 2

By Rabbi Zamir Cohen

The sages in the Talmud say the following:[3] “Honor your wives, so that you may be enriched.” It also says: “One must always protect the dignity of his wife, because blessings rest upon a man’s home only on account of his wife, for it is written, ‘And he treated Avraham well for her sake’.”[4] This means that when a woman is happy and content because of the respect she receives from her husband, she becomes the home’s entryway for financial abundance.[5] The opposite is also true, G-d forbid. Moreover, a woman whose needs are properly respected by her husband resembles a beautifully viable flower whose needs are properly addressed by its owner – and the one who ultimately profits from the flower is the owner himself.

On the other hand, the wife is required ‘to do everything according to him, and he must be in her eyes like a king or a minister. She must comply with the wishes of his heart and keep anything he dislikes away from him’,[6] as he was provided with the necessary emotional tools to handle the survival and protection of the home. These positive tools that are so critical to the family nest create a need in his nature to be the decision-maker. A wise woman knows that her status is not degraded when she manages the matters of the household according to him and keeps away the things he dislikes.

It should be emphasized here that this does not imply that a man is commanded to conduct himself like a king or a ruler, but rather that she should let him feel like an authority. In fact, there is some wonderful and surprising evidence regarding this behavior. A man who is treated like a king in his own home, will relinquish his “high position” and will tell his wife to do whatever she wishes in every area, or he will at least ask for her opinion, and in most cases, will make “his decision” according to her wishes. Either way, he will never do the opposite of what she says without seeking her agreement in a pleasant manner.

Couples living this way are the happiest people on earth. She doesn’t need to be the authority[7] and he does not really need to make the decisions. When the wife gives her husband the authority he needs, he will feel secure enough to let her make the decisions as she sees fit. He will not go against her will in the areas that are important to her. And when this is the atmosphere at home, the woman is more likely to be flexible in the areas that are important to him, as her nature is not heavy and rigid, rather, it says: ‘The mind of a woman is light’.[8]

Women are flexible and willing to change their views for their loving husbands. They are willing to please them and make them happy as long as the husband’s actions do not cause his wife to go against her nature. And indeed, the Rambam says that the husband ‘must not cause her to be fearful, and he must speak to her softly. He must not be despondent or angry’, as he is the pillar of strength that the wife and the entire family naturally lean on. When the man is calm, patient, soft spoken, and full of life, he infuses a positive force into his wife and the rest of the household. He is after all, their pillar of hope.

On the other hand, when a man is distressed for whatever reason, he gives off an air of disappointment that’s directed at his wife and members of his household. Therefore, even if the reason for his sadness is external and has nothing to do with his family – for example, if he was insulted by his boss or has difficulties with his livelihood, he must not deviate from his role as the mainstay and backbone of the home. And when he is happy and in good spirits, he radiates a constant sense of hopeful joy that encourages the family and makes them feel secure. But when he’s sad the whole house falls into a state of depression.

This brings us to the attribute of anger.

Read Part 3 – For More Insights

Notes and Sources
[3] Bava Metzia 59a

[4] Bereishit 12:16

[5] This is the explanation according to Kabbalah: The root of the female lies in the Sphere of Malchut, which corresponds to the letter ‘Hey’. The root of one’s livelihood is situated there too, in the Sphere of Malchut. A man who honors his wife is not honoring her physical body but rather the inner soul of the woman whose root lies in the upper Sphere of Malchut. Therefore, by respecting her, he draws financial abundance upon himself from that Sphere.

[6] Rambam Ibid.

[7] On the contrary, in the words of Tanna, D’bi Eliyahu Rabbah chapter 9, “A kosher woman is one who fulfills the wishes of her husband”. I will indicate here what I’ve heard from the righteous Rabbi, Eliezer Ben David Shlita, who had asked: Why was the word ‘kosher’ used in this context? After all, the area of kashrut has a completely different connotation. Instead, of a ‘kosher woman’ it should have said ‘ a good woman’ or ‘a woman with a good character’ etc. His response: We’ve seen in the teachings of our sages that a man or an animal with a life threatening injury to a limb or organ is referred to as a treifa (refer to the tractate of Chulin 3a). We see from here that anyone whose essence is not whole, may not be referred to as ‘kosher’. According to her nature, a woman does not possess an innate need of being the decision maker; therefore, it is easy for her (provided that she is conducting herself according to her nature) to fulfill the wishes of her husband. So when she fights with her husband about wanting to be the ‘man’ in the house, her nature becomes deficient and damaged…

[8] Kidushin 80b