יום ראשון, 17 בנובמבר 2013

The Secret Of Success

My beloved friend and chavrusa, ohev Torah amiti and great baal middos, Bnan Shel Kdoshim, R' Mordechai Ziskind Hager Shlita, told me that he was chatting with a very prominent psychologist who charges $1000 a session for his services [great job for a kollel man. He works one afternoon a month and he is SET!! I envy his wife and children. When they sit and have a Shabbos meal with him, it is a $2,500 value]. R' Mordechai asked him what is the entire "Torah" on one leg. What makes a person successful in interpersonal relationships?

The psychologist answered [you may read and I won't charge you:-)]: One compliment a day.

R' Mordechai spoke at shaleshudes in the shul next to the Great Synagogue [in Heichal Shlomo] and mentioned this idea. Some time later an ooolllddd man in his eighties or even nineties approached him and told him that he has had a great relationship with his wife. He wishes his great shalom bayis on all yidden. But after he heard about the importance of giving a compliment he took it to heart and started doing it. He had been lax because he had taken much of what his wife did for him for granted. He said that since then things have improved considerably.

Try it......:-) It works on a roommate, a chavrusa, a neighbor, a Rav, a parent, etc. etc.

יום חמישי, 22 באוגוסט 2013

Take Your Wife Out

A cyclone hit the Goldstein house just before dawn one morning. It lifted the roof off, picked up the beds on which Selma and Irving slept, and set them down gently in the next county.

Selma began to cry.

"Don't be scared, Selma," Irving said. "We're not hurt."

Selma continued to cry. "I'm not scared," she responded between sobs.

"I'm happy. This is the first time in 14 years we've been out together."


From an email I recently sent...

There was a popular movie in the 70's called "Love Story". It was about a rich Waspy kid from Harvard who fell in love with a poor Italian girl from a broken home. His father was vehemently opposed to the relationship. At the end of the movie - she died. [I cried hard]. His father came and met him in the hospital parking lot and said "I'm sorry". The son said "Love means never having to say your sorry".
That is utter nonsense. Love means always having to say your sorry......:-)

יום ראשון, 28 ביולי 2013

Learning How To Relate

 In the world of true mussar study [of which I often lament its rare appearance on our planet and see it as one of the primary problems in our religious life ואכמ"ל] there is a rule: דער קליינע זאך איז דער גאנצע זאך - The small seemingly insignificant behaviors are really everything. Most people just don't notice the subtleties of speech and action which often cause an [albeit subtle] breach in proper behavior. These matters on not even on most peoples radars but Baruch Hashem it takes only a simple yeshiva bochur from Eretz Yisrael who is not part of the rat race [Remember: Even if one wins the rat race, he is still a rat:-)] to give us all a gentle reminder.

I will illustrate one such הנהגה.

I have a very close friend whom I have known for year and spoken to on countless occassions both on the telephone and in person. He is extremely busy, large family, full time job, learns every free second, involved in communal affairs etc. etc. He has NEVER in all of the time I have known him, interrupted a phone call to tell his wife something, answer a call waiting, ask the parking attendant how much it costs or order a burger and coke. Most people are involved in 50 different things as they talk. I recently spoke to a friend I hadn't spoken for the longest time. In the few minutes I spoke to him he must have interrupted 10 times. He is not a bad person, he is actually quite the opposite. But he is also unaware.

This person has also never ever ended a conversation by telling me that he has to go [how do you feel when somone says "I can't talk, I am in a huge rush. Bye...:-)"] If he needs to go he will gently end the conversation. He also looks at me when I talk to him. He really gives me the feeling that he is with me. He has mastered the fine art of transcending his personal selfish needs of the moment for the sake of another human being. [I have a friend who experiences this person in the same way]. When you meet such a person you should make a שהחיינו

There was a famous Jewish Philosopher [important note: In his personal behavior he was quite deviant but I must grant him that he was immersed in something that many practically Observant Jews all but ignore, namely, G-d:-)] whose main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:
  • that of the "I" towards an "It", towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience;

  • and that of the "I" towards "Thou", in which we move into existence in a relationship without bounds.
  •  This person relates to other people in an "I-Thou" fashion. Almost everybody else relates to others in an "I-It".
  •   To copy from this Philosophers Wiki page:
  •  For "I-It," the "It" refers to the world of experience and sensation. I-It describes entities as discrete objects drawn from a defined set (e.g., he, she or any other objective entity defined by what makes it measurably different from other living entities). It can be said that "I" have as many distinct and different relationships with each "It" as there are "It"s in my life. Fundamentally, "It" refers to the world as we experience it.
  • By contrast, the word pair "I-Thou" describes the world of relations. This is the "I" that does not objectify any "It" but rather acknowledges a living relationship. "I-Thou" relationships are sustained in the spirit and mind of an "I" for however long the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. A person sitting next to a complete stranger on a park bench may enter into an "I-Thou" relationship with the stranger merely by beginning to think positively about people in general. The stranger is a person as well, and gets instantaneously drawn into a mental or spiritual relationship with the person whose positive thoughts necessarily include the stranger as a member of the set of persons about whom positive thoughts are directed. It is not necessary for the stranger to have any idea that he is being drawn into an "I-Thou" relationship for such a relationship to arise.
Sweetest friends - let us stop relating to people as "Its".

You will probably not be surprised to hear that the aforementioned individual is one of my favorite people on the planet. I hope to find more such people.

יום שני, 17 ביוני 2013

How To Become One

How does one get married in our day and age?

A man GIVES the woman a ring and she RECEIVES it. THAT is the model for marriage. He WANTS to give and she WANTS to receive. When she receives that ring they are cemented together forever. Every subsequent act of giving brings them closer and yet closer.

It is significant that he is giving her something that she WANTS. In this context she knows that this is the way she is going to be married so she is THRILLED to receive it. He knows that this is the only way she is going to have a wife so he is THRILLED to give it. This, too, is a model for life. He should WANT to give and she should WANT to receive and that is how a man and a woman become .....


יום שני, 10 ביוני 2013

Maintain Your Independence

Many couples are so happy when they first get married! That is fantastic! But herein lies a minefield that could potentially blow up. The couple gets so involved in each other and their relationship that they neglect other important areas of their lives and become overly dependent on each other. There is a seemingly beautiful concept that should apply to every young couple called "symbiosis". Sounds GREAT. But in English we have another word for it.


Enjoy being married, invest in your marriage, make it top priority. But keep on living your own life!:). Keep up your chavrusas, friendships, hobbies etc. etc.

[Based on האיש מקדש page 108-109]

יום ראשון, 2 ביוני 2013

האשה כמראה

מהרב יצחק גינזבורג שליט"א

"ותדבר מרים ואהרן במשה"… מרים הנביאה ואהרן הכהן מותחים בקורת על משה רבינו, אחיהם הקטן, על שפרש מאשתו (כמו שמסבירים חז"ל), ומייד ה' מתגלה אליהם ומלמד אותם את ההבדל המהותי בין נבואת משה לנבואת שאר הנביאים, "אִם יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֲכֶם ה' בַּמַּרְאָה אֵלָיו אֶתְוַדָּע בַּחֲלוֹם אֲדַבֶּר בּוֹ. לֹא כֵן עַבְדִּי משֶׁה בְּכָל בֵּיתִי נֶאֱמָן הוּא. פֶּה אֶל פֶּה אֲדַבֶּר בּוֹ וּמַרְאֶה וְלֹא בְחִידֹת וּתְמֻנַת ה' יַבִּיט וּמַדּוּעַ לֹא יְרֵאתֶם לְדַבֵּר בְּעַבְדִּי בְמשֶׁה".

מה הקשר בין דרגת נבואתו של משה לבין העובדה שהוא פרש מן האשה? חז"ל מסבירים "יפה עשה משה שפירש מן האשה מאחר שהשכינה נגלית עליו תדיר ואין עת קבועה לדבור" (רש"י), ודבר זה הומחש לאהרן ומרים כאשר ה' נגלה עליהם "פתאֹם" בהיותם טמאים. אמנם הפסוקים עוסקים במעלת נבואת משה רבינו בכלל, לא רק בפרט הזה של תדירות הנבואה, כלומר שהפרט הזה הוא חלק מעניין מהותי בנבואת משה שבגללו הוצרך לפרוש מן האשה. לכן נתבונן בהשוואה בין משה רבינו לשאר הנביאים ומתוך כך נבין יותר את הסוגיה שלפנינו.

שתי מראות

בלשון חז"ל, נבואת משה רבינו היא "באספקלריא המאירה" לעומת שאר הנביאים שמתנבאים ב"אספקלריא שאינה מאירה" (כמו שמביא רש"י אצלנו). מהי בדיוק ה'אספקלריא'? יש אומרים שזו מחיצת זכוכית, שרואים מה שנמצא מעברה השני, ויש אומרים שזו מראָה המחזירה את התמונה שמולה[א]. ניתן לצרף את שני הפירושים ולומר שאספקלריא המאירה היא זכוכית שקופה שרואים דרכה ואילו אספקלריא שאינה מאירה היא מראה. פירוש זה מתאים יפה עם שינוי הלשון בפסוקים שלנו: על כל הנביאים נאמר "בַּמַּרְאָה אליו אתודע", ועל משה נאמר "וּמַרְאֶה ולא בחידֹת" – המַּרְאָה היא אספקלריא שאינה מאירה (כמו ה"מראות הצובאות" שהביאו הנשים לנדבת המשכן ומהן נעשה הכיור), והמַרְאֶה הוא זכוכית שקופה לגמרי. לכן מַרְאֶה הוא לשון זכר ומַּרְאָה לשון נקבה, כי המַּרְאָה מחזירה את המַרְאֶה עצמו, כנקבה המקבלת מהזכר[ב].

מה פירוש הדבר? באופן כללי, מוסבר[ג] שמשה רבינו קולט את הנבואה בראייה שכלית ברורה לגמרי, לעומת הנביאים שרואים חזיונות, חידות ומשלים, ולא את עצם הדבר. משה קולט באופן ישיר את מַרְאֶה הנבואה עצמו הבא מלמעלה, ואף שיש לו אישיות בפני עצמה, והוא חי בגוף גשמי, אבל הוא מזוכך, כזכוכית שקופה, ולכן מציאותו העצמית אינה חוצצת כלל, כאילו הוא שקוף לגמרי… לעומת זאת, אצל שאר הנביאים יש חציצה בינם לבין דבר ה' המגיע מלמעלה, והם יכולים לקלוט אותו רק כאשר הוא 'מכה' על המציאות התחתונה, כאילו מחזיקים בידם ראי ומביטים בהשתקפותו של האור האלוקי. אם נמשיל את האור האלוקי לאור השמש, הרי משה יכול להביט ישירות באור הזה בלי להסתנוור, רק דרך מחיצה שקופה אחת, ואילו שאר הנביאים יכולים לראות את האור רק כשהוא מגיע אל הארץ ומאיר אותה והופך להיות "אור חוזר".
[במושגי הקבלה, המראָה היא ספירת המלכות, הספירה התחתונה ביותר שעליה נאמר שאין לה מעצמה כלום, אלא רק מחזירה ומשקפת את האור והתוכן העצמי שמגיע מהספירות שמעליה. לעומת זאת, המראֶה הוא ספירת התפארת, הספירה העיקרית של המידות (פרצוף זעיר אנפין), המשפיעה גילוי אור אלוקי. התפארת הוא האיש והמלכות היא האשה.]

משה פורש מן האשה

אם כן, משה רבינו אינו נזקק לעולם הזה כדי לקבל את הנבואה. הוא עומד ישירות מול ה', "פה אל פה" ו"פנים בפנים", "תמונת ה' יביט". זוהי הסיבה שמשה נזקק לבסוף לפרוש מאשתו. הרי בני זוג חייבים להיות בתקשורת הדדית חיובית, "להסתכל בעינים" זה לזה ולשדר את המסר "אני אוהב אותך". אבל משה רבינו, המוכן בכל עת לנבואה, אינו יכול להסיח את דעתו, אינו יכול להפנות את מבט עיניו מהמראֶה האלוקי, ולכן הוא נאלץ לפרוש מצפורה אשתו. משה יודע שאי אפשר להסתכל בו זמנית גם כלפי מעלה, אל השכינה הקדושה, וגם כלפי מטה, אל אשתו האהובה. לכן אין ברירה, עליו לעזוב את צפורה כדי 'להתחתן' כביכול עם השכינה. מרים הנביאה ואהרן הכהן – שניהם בעלי משפחה מאושרת (מרים עם כלב בן יפונה, ואהרן עם אלישבע בת עמינדב) – לא הבינו תחילה מדוע משה רבינו פורש מצפורה, עד שה' עצמו מסביר להם שמשה הוא חריג, כולו קדש לנבואה עליונה ואינו יכול לעסוק בחיי משפחה רגילים[ד].

ביתר עומק, אנו נוגעים כאן בסוגיה חשובה ביחסי איש ואשה. האשה משתמשת הרבה במראָה, לקשט את עצמה ולבחון את מראה ויופיה. אבל הגבר בדרך כלל אינו זקוק למראה, וההלכה אף אוסרת על גבר להסתכל במראה כמו אשה (כחלק מהאיסור "לא ילבש גבר שמלת אשה"[ה])! ההבדל ה'מגדרי' הזה נובע ממקום מאד עמוק: האשה מכירה את עצמה דרך ההשתקפות שלה בעיני הסביבה, היא חייבת היזון חוזר (פידבק) מן המציאות כדי לחוות את עצמה. ואילו הגבר חווה את עצמו 'מתוך עצמו', ולכן בדרך-כלל אל לו לשאול את עצמו "איך אני נראה בעיני אחרים".

אך האמת היא שגם לגבר יש מראָה – האשה היא המראָה של בעלה! הבעל מביט באשתו וכך הוא רואה גם את עצמו באופן מתוקן (ניסוי פשוט לגברים שבינינו: אם אינך יודע בדיוק איך אתה מרגיש, תסתכל על אשתך. היא יודעת מצוין!). אבל משה רבינו אינו יכול להסתכל במראָה הזו – הוא כולו "איש האלקים" שאינו יכול להרשות לעצמו להשתעשע בכל מיני 'השתקפויות'. הוא נתון כל הזמן בראיה ישירה של מראֶה הנבואה, רק "הדבר האמיתי" בכבודו ובעצמו.

המשיח חוזר לאשה

לפי הדברים האלה, בדרגה העליונה ביותר, דרגת משה רבינו, אין ברירה אלא לפרוש מן האשה. ואחרי כל ההסברים, במבט הפשוט שלנו יש בזה משהו מעט 'צורם'. האם כל החינוך להקמת משפחה בישראל וחיי אהבה בין איש ואשה הוא קצת עניין של 'בדיעבד'?

האמת היא שאמנם משה רבינו הוא הגדול בכל הנביאים שהיו ושיהיו, "ולא קם נביא עוד בישראל כמשה", ובכל זאת מבחינה מסוימת דרגת המלך המשיח משלימה את הדרגה של משה רבינו, ומביאה את כולנו לרמה גבוהה יותר. כך מבואר שמשה רבינו אמנם הוצרך לפרוש מן האשה, אבל המשיח לא יפרוש מן האשה!

כדי לחוש מעט את הגילוי המשיחי הזה, נחזור להבדל בין שתי האספקלריאות. במבט מעמיק מתברר (כפי שמבואר בחסידות) שדוקא באספקלריא שאינה מאירה יש מעלה מסוימת על זו המאירה. כמה שנסתכל במבט ישיר אל האלוקות, נוכח פני ה', הרי השגתנו-ראייתנו היא מוגבלת. עם המשקפיים והמשקפת הטובות ביותר, האספקלריא הכי מאירה בעולם, נוכל להגיע עד גבול מסוים, וגם כשאנו מתקדמים ועולים "מחיל אל חיל" תמיד נגלה שמעבר לקו האופק, מעבר למראֶה שנגלה אלינו, יש עוד מרחבים אין-סופיים. לעומת זאת, האספקלריא שאינה מאירה, המראָה הנמצאת למטה ומחזירה את המראות העליונים, יכולה לקלוט ולשקף התנוצצות ממקומות גבוהים יותר. כלומר, יש מעלה לקלוט את ה' מתוך המציאות של העולם שהופך לראי מלוטש שבו אנו רואים כביכול את פני ה'.

אפשר לומר שמשה רבינו עצמו עשה את הצעד הראשון בכיוון הזה. אמנם הוא לא היה רשאי להחזיר לגמרי את צפורה אשתו, אבל ניתן לפרש שלאחר דברי מרים אחותו הוא הבין שעצם ההבטה באשתו אינה סותרת את דבקותו בקב"ה (וגם כאשר לא ניתן לקיים חיי אישות הרי עצם ההבטה של האיש באשתו בדרך חיבה הינה מותרת ורצויה[ו]).

אצל המשיח – שהנשמה שלו היא היא נשמת משה רבינו – הדבר הזה יופיע בשלמות: יתברר שכאשר בני הזוג מביטים זה בזה, בקדושה ובטהרה, הם רואים האחד בשני גילוי מיוחד של הקב"ה, "השותף השלישי" בבית היהודי. החיבור השלם הזה בין האיש והאשה אינו נשאר רק בממד הראיה, אלא גם כיחוד גופני ממשי, ללא צורך לפרוש מן האשה, אלא "כמשוש חתן על כלה" בכל המובנים.

כמה שהאדם יתקדש ויתעלה בדבקות בה' מתוך 'התפשטות הגשמיות', הרי באמת את הדרגה העליונה של גילוי ה' הוא יוכל לקלוט רק בעקבות המבט במראָה האישית שלו, שהיא בת זוגו האהובה.
לפי יין משמח ח"ב עמ' סב

[א]  ראה למשל במפרשי המשנה כלים ל, ב.
[ב] ראה בפירושי רבינו בחיי והכתב והקבלה בפסוקים אצלנו.
[ג] רמב"ם הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ז, ועוד.
[ד] הדבר לא ברור האם משה רק הפסיק לקיים חיי אישות עם אשתו או שגרש אותה לגמרי. ראה לקוטי שיחות י"ח עמ' 145.
[ה] דברים כב, ה. שלחן ערוך יורה דעה קנו, ג.
[ו] כל עוד משה לא הוצרך לגרש אותה לגמרי, כנ"ל בהערה ד.

יום רביעי, 29 במאי 2013

הכנות ראויות

מאת הרב יצחק ברנד שליט"א

[הקריאה לאנשים נשואים בלבד]
לאור הבעיות החמורות שהביאו אברכים לפני, יוצא שאחד מן הדברים שיכולים לערער שלום בית, הוא מניעת חו"נ לפני המעשה או בשעה שאין רוצה לעשות מעשה, ויש שאוסרין זה משום חשש השז"ל.
הנהגת חו"נ מבואר בסידור היעב"ץ "בית יעקב" בהנהגת ליל שבת פ"ז חוליא ב' אות ו' וז"ל אין זיווג שלא יקדים אליו חו"נ, ושני מיני נישוקין הם, אחד קודם הזיווג, באין הנשיקין כדי לפייס האיש את האשה ולעורר את האהבה שביניהם, ואח"כ בעת הזיווג ובעת התשמיש עצמו אז נושקין זא"ז, כדי לעשות שני מיני זיווגים עליון ותחתון יחד, והאריך בסוד הענין בספר הגלגולים. (בסה"ג הוא סוד הענין אבל הענין עצמו נכון מצד טבע חיי אישות)
ספר הרוקח הלכות תשובה סימן יד ולאחר טבילתה ישמחנה ויחבקנה וינשקנה ויקדש עצמו מתשמיש המטה ולא ינבל פיו ולא יראה בה דבר מגונה אך ישעשע במשמושי' ובכל מיני חיבוק למלאות תאוותו ותאוותה שלא יהרהר באחרת כי אם עליה כי היא אשת חיקו ויראה לה חיבות ואהבות:
בעירובין דף ק' ע"ב דדרך תשמיש מפייס והדר בועל, וע"ע רש"י ריש שיר השירים. וזה בכלל מה דאיתא מסכת כלה רבתי פרק ב  מה הם חפצי אשתו, ר' אליעזר אומר יפתה אותה בשעת תשמיש, הובא בטור ס' ר"מ.
ולפעמים גורם מניעה מזה לקלקול שלום בית, ואח"כ לגרושין, וממילא לקלקול הילדים, ולמחשבות באשה אחרת, ולה לאיש אחר וכו' וכו'
והסיבה לכך, משום שאם לא עושים הכנות, אז אין לאשה הנאה ואז חסר באהבה, ואהבה הוא אחד מיסודות הזיווג כמו שאומרים בשבע ברכות אהבה ואחוה ושלום ורעות, ואז גורם זה לחסרון שלום בית ומזה שאר הצרות.
ובגמ' מבואר בכל מקום שמותר, כי כל דרך אישות אין בו איסור, ע' להלן.
ואף שמבואר באור החיים הקדוש ויצא כט כג על הנהגת יעקב אבינו שלא הדליק את האור להכיר מי זאת האשה, בגלל חשש של "מכשול אנושי" ויבא אליה. טעם שלא הרגיש בה הוא לחששת צדיק וישר ונאמן רוח לבל יכשל במכשול האנושי אשר יתאוו תאוה קודם קרוב אליה ויטיפו ממנו צחצוחי טומאה קודם התחלת מצוה. ויש שרוצים לדייק לאיסור משם, ואדרבה משם יש ראייה להיתר. שהרי העיד שזה מכשול אנושי ובכל זאת מבואר בגמ' ופוסקים שמותר לכל אדם. וע"כ היה כאן הנהגה מיוחדת ליעקב אבינו. והתורה ניתנה לכל עם ישראל.
וכן מבואר באוה"ח הקדוש בראשית כו ח בביאור ראשון בהנהגת יצחק אבינו  מצחק את רבקה. פי' מעשה חיבה הנעשית בין איש לאשתו, והפשטות לפירוש הראשון, מעשה חיבה היינו חו"נ, שלא היה כאן הנהגה מיוחדת ליצחק אבינו אלא שזה דרך העולם, רק שכאן נתחדש שאבימלך ראה זה, והכיר בזה שיצחק נוהג כמו כל אדם באשתו, ונתברר לו שזה אשתו.
חזקוני בראשית פרק כו וירא והנה יצחק מצחק, צחוק שלפני הבעילה כדכתיב הביא לנו איש עברי לצחק בנו ואחריו כתיב לשכב עמי. ואין לומר שראהו בועל שלא היה יצחק עושה כך לפני רואים וביום.
וע' יו"ד ס' קפ"ד סע' ה' בש"ך ס"ק כ"ז דחו"נ מותר בסמוך לוסתה כשיוצא לדרך ואין להחמיר כלל. דכל מיני קורבה - אפילו חו"נ ואע"ג דכתבתי לעיל ס"ק ו' בשם הב"ח דהמחמיר בחו"נ תבא עליו ברכה, נראה דהכא אין להחמיר כלל כיון די"א דאפי' בתשמיש חיוב ומצוה איכא: ואף שאין דעתו לשמש כעת.
ומבואר שם דחייב לעשות כן לאלו שאוסרין תשמיש. ולא במלאכי השרת עסקינן, וכ"כ בש"ך ס' קפ"ד ס"ק ו' בשם הב"י ושמ"ב ס"ק ה' בשם הראב"ד, שחו"נ מותר גם במקום שאין דעתו לשמש כעת..
שו"ע אה"ע ס' פ' סעיף ד (ט) וכן כל אשה רוחצת לבעלה פניו, ידיו ורגליו;  וזה תקנת חכמים ולא חששו שבעלה יגיעה לידי הרהור וכן כל אשה מצוה להתקשט בפני בעלה ואפילו לנדה התירו ולא חשו כל החששות.  (ע' שבת סד:)
ויותר מזה מצאנו כתובות נח: בדיקת חוץ לא שמיה בדיקה ע' רש"י בסוף הדיבור עד שמיחד עמה הוא עצמו ובודקה. והיינו שבודק במקומות המכוסים אם יש לה מום, ועדיין אינו עושה מעשה, ולאו במלאכי שרת עסקינן. וע' דף עה: חזקה אין אדם שותה בכוס אלא א"כ בודקו. וזה בזמן הגמרא היתה הנהגה כללית שכל אחד היה עושה שבודק במקומות המכוסים, ולא חיישינן למכשול. ויותר מזה מצאנו בכתובות ט: מנהג יהודה ע' רש"י סוף ד"ה מאי לא דקטעין, ומיהו ביהודה לא מהימן שמא בעל בימי אירוסין ושכח או הערה בה מתוך חבתה ולא ידע ששיבר בתוליה. וא"כ היה כאן הנהגה קרוב לביאה אף שלא היה הנהגה לכתחילה לביאה ממש, כיון שלא היתה נשואה גמורהולא חששו כלל לענין טיפות זרע לבטלה. 
וע' בנדרים כ: כל מה, ובשו"ע אה"ע ס' כ"ה סע' ב' בהג"ה, ואין איסור להסתכל רק במקום התורפה, כמבואר בטור או"ח ס' ר"מ. שלפני המעשה מסתכלים בכל מקום חוץ מאותו מקום,  וחיוב כיבוי הנר הוא רק בשעת מעשה. וע"ע שבת ק"מ: בעצת רב חסדא לבנותיו ורש"י שם, וגם הרמב"ם אינו חולק, ע' ברכי יוסף אה"ע ס' כ"ה ג'. 
ואף שלא כדרכה בכוונה להוציא זרעו, שיש מחלוקת אם מותר גם להוציא זרעו,  עיקר כדעת הי"א המתירין בדרך ארעי כמבואר ברא"ש שהובא בב"י ס' כ"ה (כעת לא מצאתי את הרא"ש אבל נמצא בתלמידו רבינו ירוחם חלק חוה כ"ג אות א'. וכן במרדכי ריש הל' נדה (שבועות ס' תשל"ב.) ובדרכי משה ס"ק א', ותוס' סנהדרין נח: וד"ה מי איכא, הביא רק תירוץ זה.
ודעה ראשונה היא דעת הרמב"ם, וי"א קמא בתוס', שכתוב ובלבד שלא יוצא זרע לבטלה, צ"ע נגד המציאות דלאו במלאכי השרת עסקינן. והרי האוחז באמה ומשתין כאילו הביא מבול. וכ"ש ביאה שלא כדרכה, ואיך התירו שלא כדרכה, וע"כ דרך אישות שאני. (וכבר הקשה כך על הרמב"ם בפסקי הריא"ז סנהדרין נח: שלא יתכן שחז"ל התירו שלא כדרכה ואסרו להוציא שז"ל אלא ודאי גם התירו זה ולא נאסר אלא אם הכוונה שלא תוליד, וכתב שם שכך גם דעת המז"ה היינו הרי"ד) וע' בדרישה שם ס' כה ס"ק ו' וס' כג ס"ק א' שכתב שגם דרך אברים מותר דרך ארעי. וע' ברמב"ם פרנקל הל' כ"א מא"ב הל' ט' שכתב שברוב כתבי היד של הרמב"ם לא נמצא דין של ובלבד שלא ישז"ל, ומה שכתב בבדק הבית שאילו ראו דברי הזוהר לא היו מתירין. צ"ע שהרי ידעו הגמ' שמחמיר טובה ע' נדה יג. ובכל זאת התירו כאן, ועל כרחך שדרך אישות שאני, וכן הרי רבי אליעזר שמחמיר טובא נדה י"ג., ס"ל יבמות. ל"ד: שבמניקה, דש מבפנים וזורה מבחוץ, וע"כ שדרך אישות שאני וא"כ לא קשה על רבנן, שאף שחולקים ואוסרים דרך קבע, מ"מ מודו דרך ארעי. וכ"ש עניני הכנות שיש בעיקר חשש על טיפין, הוה תמיד דרך ארעי.
ומסתבר שגם האוסרין, מודו בטיפין. כי בלי זה א"א לפרנס כל הגמרות הנ"ל. ולא יתכן שכל אלו גמרות מדברים שכלל האנשים עושים כל הדברים האלו בלי שיוצא שום טיפה, אלא כל דרך קירוב לאשתו הוא בכלל דרך אישות ומצות עונה ולא נקרא לבטלה. וע' בר"ן נדרים כ:, שלמדים מן הפסוק כי יקח שהוא לקוחה לעשות בה כל חפצה. וע"ש כ. מפני שנושקין באו"מ, ומבואר שבשאר מקומות אין בעיה, אף לדעת המחמיר שם.  
ולשון המ"ב או"ח ס' ר"מ ס"ק ל"ח (לח) מעניני וכו' - ולפעמים אפילו מעניני תשמיש ג"כ יש ליזהר שלא לספר מתחלה כגון שהוא איש מחומם ויכול לבוא עי"ז לידי חטא [אחרונים]: לא נמצא בפוסקים המפורסמים ושמעתי שזה ל' אחד מן המקובלים. וגם שם מדובר בהוצאת עיקר הזרע ולא בכמה טיפים שאין יוצאים בכח, שזה דרך אנושי, להכין את אשתו למעשה, ושמעתי בשם החזון איש שטיפות אלו אין בהם זרע של ממש ואין בו איסור כלל, משום שאינו ראוי להזריע.
כשהייתי אברך צעיר שאלתי את הגאון ר' שמואל הלוי ווזנר שליט"א אם צריך למנוע מחו"נ לפני המעשה בגלל החשש הנ"ל ואמר לי שלא למנוע. 
ואף דלענין שלא כדרכה וכדו' לאו משנת חסידים היא, ובודאי שראוי להתרחק מזה, מ"מ נפ"מ לענין חו"נ, שאין למנוע מה שמבואר בפוסקים שזה חלק מחיי אישות והנהגת בינו לבינה.
אולם בשו"ת אגרות משה אבן העזר חלק ד סימן סו לכאורה כתב למנוע מחו"נ באלו שטבען קל להוציא זרע וצע"ג דבריו, והוא בנה בעיקר על שיטת הרמב"ם אולם כבר הכריע הריא"ז דלא כהרמב"ם וטענתו חזק מאוד שהרמב"ם נגד המציאות, והאגרות משה בעצמו נתקשה מאוד בשיטת הרמב"ם שזה נגד המציאות. 
אולם נראה שגם לדבריו לא מדברים על טיפות ראשונות שיוצאים בהתעוררות מועטת, והרי גם הוא מתיר אם בא לידי קישוי אבר, וממילא טיפות אלו יוצאים בדרך כלל ג"כ ואין בו זרע ממש, ולא שייך לחיות כלל כדרך איש ואשה בצורה נורמלית אם מקפידים על זה.  וכן הרי הוא כתב באלו שטבען קל להוציא זרע, ולא בסתם בני אדם, ואילו טיפות אלו שייך בסתם בני אדם וע"כ לא מדבר על זה.  
יש אנשים שבהתעוררות מועטת כבר יצאו הרבה זרע וזה נקרא בלשונם "פליטה מוקדמת" ובמקרה כזה בודאי צריך למנוע מחו"נ אף אם אין בו עצם האיסור, כי יש חשש שאין לו עוד מה לעשות אח"כ, ויש כעת תרופות לטפל בזה, וכנראה שעל מקרים כאלו דברו המ"ב והאגרות משה. וכן הרמב"ם שאוסר להוציא זרעו בשלא כדרכו מדבר על זרע שיורה כחץ, ולא מדברים על טיפות שיוצאים בדרך כלל בהתעוררות מועטת. ואם לא תאמר כך אז בלתי אפשרות כלל לפרש הגמרא של היתר שלא כדרכה אפילו בדוחק.
על הנהגת פרישות זה של חסרון חו"נ אפשר לקרא מה שנאמר מיכה פרק ב (ט) נְשֵׁי עַמִּי תְּגָרְשׁוּן מִבֵּית תַּעֲנֻגֶיהָ, וחז"ל דרשו על זה עירובין סג: אמר רב ברונא אמר רב: כל הישן בקילעא שאיש ואשתו שרויין בה - עליו הכתוב אומר (מיכה ב') נשי עמי תגרשון מבית תענוגיה. ואמר רב יוסף: אפילו באשתו נדה. וא"כ כאן מי שמטיף ודורש ומחייב לאחרים שלא לעשות חו"נ ומסיר תענוג של האשה מבעלה, זה כאילו עומד שם ומרחיק אשה מבעלה אפילו בעת טהרתה. והאמת והשלום אהבו.
ויש להחמיר בהרחקה מאשה אחרת והיא מאיש אחר, ובהסתכלות בטלויזיה או באינטרנט שאינו מסונן היטב וכדומה, ולא בענינים אלו שהם עצמותו של חיי אישות, והתורה התירה למחוק את השם כדי לעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו, בזמן שכבר התחילו תהליך של קלקולים, וכ"ש שצריך לדאוג שחיי אישות ילכו כהוגן ולא יבואו לידי קלקולים. והתוצאות, של הרחקות אלו בינו לבינה, שהאשה במקום לחשוב על בעלה, עלולה לחשוב על אנשים אחרים ולפטפט איתם ח"ו, וכל התוצאות החמורות שיצאו מזה, גרושין, קלקול ילדים וכו' וכו'. והאחראי על זה הוא זה שמחפש חומרות והרחקות ופרישות בין אשה לבעלה וזה גורם ח"ו לדברים הכי חמורים ביותר, וגם אם זה לא יגיע עד כדי כך, אבל עצם העובדה לגרום שהאשה מצטערת ולא מרגישה טוב ושמחה, זה כבר חטא.
וע' במאמר על פאה נכרית שהארכנו בנושא מעין זה, על הקלקול הגדול שנתפשט בהרבה מציבור שומרי תורה ומצוות, שאשה הולכת במטפחת בבית ופאה נכרית ברחוב, וזה ההיפוך ממה שצריך, וזה בא בעקבות חומרא שהחמירו בגילוי מקצת שערות בבית, ונתהפך חיוב כיסוי ראש באופן שכל כיסוי ראש האשה שמטרתה לשמור מעריות מאנשים אחרים נתהפך למצב שמרחיקה מבעלה ומקרבה לאנשים אחרים. 
תפקיד מנהיגי ישראל בנושא זה: הנהגת חומרות ופרישות בתוך הבית מביא ח"ו לחורבן הבית, והתורה כתבה פרשה שלימה של הפרת והתרת נדרים שלא יגיע לידי הפרעה בין איש לאשתו, אף בנדר שנעשה לשם שמים כמ"ש ידור נדר לה'. ופתחה התורה אל ראשי המטות וסיימה בין איש לאשתו, ללמד, שזה תפקיד של ראשי המטות לדאוג שלא יהיו חומרות ופרישות שמפריעים שלום בית, (נדרים ע"ח.) וכ"ש שהם לא יטילו דברים אלו על הציבור. 
בקיצור, חו"נ היה נהוג בכל הדורות, מן האבות הקדושים עד האחרונים, הנהגה קבועה לכל ישראל ולא היה מי שחשש לאיזה דבר, וזה בגדר חיי אישות רגילים, ולא היה מי שמעורר על בעיה, לא בראשונים ולא באחרונים, ורק בזמן האחרון יש שהתחילו לחשוש מזה, והנהיגו פרישות מחו"נ. וזה פרישות שהתורה הקפידה שלא לפרוש.

יום שני, 27 במאי 2013

A Lot To Work On

One guy, after his fifth marriage said "I'm beginning to think that it might be me".

Remarkable insight:).

Every couple could use therapy.

Every couple.

The more self aware one is, the more he/she realizes how much growth opportunity there is through one's marriage. Most people AREN'T that self aware and go through the motions and don't realize what they are missing out on. People who go to therapy are usually those who are having severe problems. Even if a couple doesn't go, they should still be aware of the issues and be working together on solidifying their union.

When people go to therapy there are a number of possibilities.

A] They both agree that HE is the problem.

B] They both agree that SHE is the problem.

C] They each claim that the other one is the problem.

All wrong.

The TRUTH is that BOTH of them are the source of the solution. In other words, in MOST instances, both contribute to the problems. We are all people, imperfect, fallible and have light years of work to do before we reach perfection. To appreciate and internalize that is to put yourself on the road to growth.

יום ראשון, 26 במאי 2013

The Risks Of Closeness

Continuing the thought from today's earlier post....

It is important to accept the sometimes sad realities of life because in accepting and embracing them we grow. One of the realities of life is that people are going to hurt you. The more sensitive and self aware you are - the deeper the pain. Good friends are going to let you down. Your parents, with all of their good intentions, are invariably going to hurt you. They are not perfect and in our childlike way we would like them to be. Our siblings will hurt us and so will our children. I sometimes wonder, when a child of mine is not exactly [or even close to] doing what I asked "But you only exist because of me??! I am the closest thing to Hashem Himself for you [not my words but those of Chazal]! And after all I have done for you?!!". They don't exactly see it that way.... It hurts.

And of course the person who will hurt you the deepest will probably be your spouse. The closer the relationship, the greater the likelihood for pain. There is nobody closer than one's spouse. The pain of a divorce is precisely because the couple was once in love and so close, so now the pain of the distance and vitriol is almost unbearable. Even when a couple is fortunate enough to remain married there are often deep feelings of pain. The expectations are so high and are invariably not met. Ouch:).

Our job is to try our best not to hurt others. We have no control over others but all of the control over ourselves.

Think about it beloved friends and tell me what you think. I don't need emails telling me how wonderful the blog is. I DO appreciate hearing what people think because I learn more that way.

My Erswhile Good Friend

[Erstwhile means "former". I never want to read an essay when I don't even understand the title so I define for those who aren't familiar with the word:)].

When I was in High School, I suddenly disappeared from school. Nobody knew where I went [with the possible exception of myself]. My chemistry teacher [I am told] would call out my name when taking attendance, "Ehrman" and there would be no answer. "Where is that Ehrman? It's been three months!"

Where I went is not the topic of this post but I can ASSURE you that it wasn't to drug rehab. Despite its popularity in the general population and specifically in Modern Orthodox schools, I never tried drugs. My yetzer hara at that time was to watch many hours of college basketball and not to fry my delicate brain with foreign substances. I also didn't go to a Buddhist shrine in India. Worshipping idols just never managed to catch my fancy. BARUCH HASHEM!!

Anyway, I was in a large grade of maybe 100 or so students and was well known. I was not the quiet, introverted sort by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, of all of my friends, only one troubled himself to pick up the phone to find out what happened to me and where I was. None of my teachers inquired either. The fact that this one friend cared enough to call touched me for many years to come. SOMEBODY CARED!

Fast forward about 25 years. I decided to fulfill a dream of opening up a kollel. Kollels cost a great deal to sustain and I needed help. This one and only friend has done very well in life. According to his website, he is investing close to a BILLION dollars. He gives a lot of tzdaka. He appreciates and supports Torah. I asked him to help with the knowledge that he could easily support the holy project for a whole year. We have been in touch over the years. Still good buddies.

Sum of donation: Zero. Not even a quarter that one would give to a Mexican on the A train who is playing his banjo.     

When he made a Bar-Mitzvah for his son I made a great effort to attend and sent a nice gift. When I made a Bar-Mitzvah for my son he didn't attend. When I told him about the upcoming simcha he made a face that said to me "Why would I care....." [I read faces and body language for a living....:)]

So much for that close friendship:). [I must add that he is a geshmake guy and thinking about him brings up positive feelings. Just because he didn't help my cause doesn't make him a bad person. But something tells me that our friendship won't be so strong in the coming years].

This experience [and many similar ones] drove home an important lesson for life: People usually don't care about you nearly as much as you care about yourself.

The explanation is as follows: Every person is at the center of his universe from his day of birth. We love and care for ourselves without end. For example, my neighbor is, nebach, heavily in debt. I Baruch Hashem am not. I shamefully admit that I lose no sleep over his problems. I feel badly for him but am still sleeping. In contrast, the VERY THOUGHT of the eventuality of myself being in debt is enough to rob me of sleep and much good cheer.

When I am having trouble with a child of mine, I have trouble sleeping and my waking hours aren't so pleasant either. The fact that so many other people I know are having trouble with their children may bother me a little but not enough to put a damper on my day. The reason for this is because I am at the center of existence and my children, as extensions of me, are as well.

The Rambam rules [Hil. Talmud Torah 5/12] that a teacher must love his students as much as he loves his own biological children. I can't say I have ever had such a teacher nor have I ever seen a teacher of any of my children whom I felt felt loved my child even a small fraction of the amount that I love them. People are just not connected to others as much as they are to themselves.

When I attend a wedding of a third cousin through marriage I am going to be a lot less happy than when I attend the wedding of my best friend. The reason is that I feel more connected to my friend and since I view the world through the prism of my existence, I naturally feel more joy when the simcha relates more to me.

If I would have had enough money to single handedly fund my project, I would have happily done so. In my universe, that would have been as basic as paying for my groceries. In my world, this project was of critical importance. In my friend's world - I was just another annoying schnorrer.

That is the dynamic whenever you have one person asking and another giving. For the asker - his success in life [and possibly food on the table] is on the balance scales. For the giver - it is another unjustified request for his hard earned funds. He might give but would be much happier if he hadn't been asked. The proof is that if he hears about it and is NOT directly asked he will usually not give. That is why every Rosh Yeshiva must close his gemara and go from door to door and from office to office. Every frum Jew knows that the Mir Yeshiva has a huge yearly budget but Rav Finkel Shlita must still make frequent trips to chutz la-aretz to ask them face to face. It is relatively easy to turn away a small man like me, much more difficult to do so to the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir.

There is one relationship where it is imperative to place another person as much at the center as you are and that is marriage. Many people live their whole adult livese with their spouse and never quite manage to do so. This of course is the impetus for many conflicts. If my wife is at much at the center of my universe as I am then I will ALWAYS try to do what is best for her. If she is not then she will always take a backseat to me and feelings of tension will prevail. One has to work hard to make one's spouse feel that she is no less important than himself. [Ideally, one should have this attitude with everyone but this is such a high level that I won't even bother addressing it.]

Chazal said it in one sentence. אוהבה כגופו ומכבדה יותר מגופו - Love her as much as you love yourself and honor her even MORE than you would honor yourself.

When a spouse feels unloved, it is the beginning of the end. If you are not going to love her with the same intensity you love yourself - then who will??

Some food for thought....:)

Love and blessings!

יום שני, 20 במאי 2013

Will The Real Switzerland PLEASE Stand Up

Switzerland is a GORGEOUS country, by all accounts. [I would go there myself if not for the fact that I am a guest in Hashem's country and I feel that it would be insulting to leave for no good reason. That was an "Aliyah minute", sponsored by Nefesh Bi-nefesh. Now back to our reguraly scheduled programming.]

When you get to the airport in Geneva you will be met by stern-faced clerks at passport control and garbage bins. That isn't so pretty.

If a photographer took pictures of the sloping hills and pastoral view and also of the garbage bins and angry people, which would be an accurate refelction of the country?

Both. To get Talmudic for a second: אלו ואלו דברי וכו ... in a sense.

Your spouse is Switzerland. She is beautiful. She also has a side to her that is less beautiful. She is not all bad nor all good. She is a work in progress. So is he. Have patience. Work together. Over time more of the beauty will be revealed and what is less than beautiful will be transformed.

IF you work. HARD. For a man that means learning daily mussar and engaging in introspection to discern what he needs to fix. For a woman it means going to shiurim from time to time and primarily working through her issues [possibly with the help of a close friend or Rebbetzin].

[Based partly on the book האיש מקדש page 102-103]     

Late Again

You are so excited! You are about to close a deal on your apartment which is now going for 200,000 dollars more than you bought it for only one year ago. [As an aside, if you have extra money lying around, investing in an apartment in Israel will almost definitely net you a tremendous profit in a short amount of time. But take the advice of a person like myself who sits and learns and understands nothing of the world of finance with a grain or more of salt. If I tell you pshat in a Rambam that would be more my territory. But take that with some salt as well:)]. You need your wife there to sign. Your parents came in from America to be there as well [they bought you the apartment so they deserve to be there for the selling]. Your in-laws drove an hour and a half from Ramat Beit Shemesh. The lawyers from both sides came. And of course the wealthy buyers from America. You BEGGED your wife to come on time. 8pm sharp.

8pm comes and goes. You call her cellphone. No answer. 8:30. 9. Constant calls to her cellphone are received with "the A.T. and T. customer you are trying to reach is presently unavailable". ARRRGGHHHH! 9:30. People are beginning to get restless. The cake and coffee has been consumed. The conversation is becoming forced and contrived. You feel the anger building up inside of you. You begin to recall other times when her lateness caused you discomfort. But this takes the CAKE [which as I said has already been consumed]. At 10pm everybody leaves. You are afraid that the sale is off. People don't like to be inconvenienced and there are other apartments available. 11pm. Oh boooy, when she comes home is she going to hear about it!!

11:30pm. The phone rings. "Hello, I am a nurse at the emergency room at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital. You wife fell and broke her leg and lost consciousness when she was running to come on time for your appointment. She just woke up in tremendous pain and is begging for you to come be with her."

SUDDENLY, all of your anger dissssssaaaaapaaatteeessssssss. You no longer care very much about the buyer, the apartment, the lawyers and the money. You are no longer angry at your wife Why? What changed?

An irresponsible person makes you ANGRY. A person in distress engenders EMPATHY. Your wife is now [lo aleinu] in distress.

Let us translate this to daily life. Many of the things that anger or annoy us in our spouse or children should instead arouse feelings of compassion and care. They are having a rough time. How does the expression go?

"Cut them some slack".

Think about it:).

[Based on the sefer האיש מקדש page 97-99]

Speak A New Language

I learn a lesson about life and relationships from Shwekey.....

Shwekey sometimes sings in Yiddish. He is of Sefardic-Syrian descent. That is like me singing in Arabic. Incidentally - he also sings Sefardic songs. He sometimes sings with Ashkenazi pronunciation and at other times in the Sefardi pronunciation. Sometimes he wears a black hat - sometimes he doesn't.

Can he make up his mind? Is he confused??

He is NOT confused. He is a shrewd businessman [with one of the best voices EVER:)]. His task is to please the audience, so he sings whatever the audience wants to hear. He is happily willing to conform to whatever the crowd wants to hear. That is his job.....

How does this relate to life? When you meet a person, try to determine what they want to talk about and talk to them about that topic. If it is a child - speak "Childese". "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "Who is your favorite super-hero?" You meet a Bubbe - ask her about her grandchildren. Sitting next to a goy on the airplane? "How 'bout those "Mets'ese!"

This is actually a gemara [Ksuvos 17]. לעולם יהא דעתו מעורבת עם הבריות - A person should be "mixed in" with others. Explains Rashi לעשות לאיש ואיש כרצונו - To do the will of all. From the context of the gemara we see the importance of saying the right words to people.

In order to do this one must step out of his individual world of what matters to him and try to connect to someone else with a different mindset. Not easy but GREAT for fixing middos:).

If one can try this on his wife - HOW MUCH BETTER:)!!!

יום חמישי, 16 במאי 2013

Novels Ideas On Preserving The Vitality Of Marriage

I am in the middle of reading a fascinating book on Shalom Bayis. It really provides the tools to having a happy and fulfilling marriage. The name of this book?

It is called "Ksuvos" [pronounced "Ktuvot" by those of Sephardic origin or those who attended Modern Orthodox day schools where there was an insistence on adoption of the modern Israeli pronunciation of words.] It was penned 1500 years ago by two great Sages named Ravina and Rav Ashi and it is a record of various discussions that took place in the study hall.

What are the guiding principles outlined by this seminal tome? Listen carefully...:)

Responsibility. Obligation. A sense of purpose. Dedication. Devotion.

Let me explain [even if you don't let me I won't know because I never know who is reading and how much:)]: A man is OBLIGATED to provide financial support for his wife both in life and after death [i.e. inheritance]. Let's say HE DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT? In Modern-Street-Hebrew this is called לא בא לי. He wants to sit on the couch all day and immerse himself in the magical world of emptiness, affectionately called "Facebook". This book says: "SORRRYYYY. You have a RELIGIOUS obligation to provide for this woman, like it or not. Like her or not. Sorrrryyyy."

A woman has an obligation to take care of her husbands needs. For example - she must prepare his food. She must wash his dirty socks. Let's say SHE doesn't feel like it. She wants to sit in a hammock [the couch is taken] all day and read Robert Ludlum novels. Those are, pashut, gripping. A lot more exciting and riveting than looking at the yellow pits in her husbands undershirts and quite possibly also more interesting for her than deciding how much paprika to add to the duck she is preparing. SORRRRYYYYY. She is obligated. By willingly accepting his offer of marriage she has taken upon herself a lifetime dedicated to [among other things] pleasing this man, like it or not. Like him or not.

Let's get more personal. There is a certain aspect of the marital relationship shared only between a husband and wife. Just them. This book [which was codified by all later authorities and is part and parcel of daily practice] mandates that they are BOTH obligated to actualize this part of their relationship at certain times. There is room for spontaneity but there is a basic minimal obligation that applies to ALL COUPLES. AMAZING IDEA that the goyim have not yet discovered. Make the couple express love even when not feeling it so strongly [or at all]. This will FORCE them to invest their time and effort into enhancing their marriage. Otherwise, the marriage is liable to morph into oblivion.

There is a lot more but that is a little bit of what this book teaches.

I really think that this creation is an epiphany worthy of this years Noble Prize for Literature. "Envelope pleeeeaseeee. Druuummmmroooolllllll. Yes. Best book of the year.... Maseches Ksuvoooos by Rabbi Ravina and Rabbi Rav Ashi." Rousing ovation.

Remember sweetest friends!:) No religious man wakes up in the morning and says "I don't feel like davening today, so I won't". No religious woman says "I am simply TOO BUSY for Shabbos this week. Too much to do. Maybe next Saturday." In the same way, one must look upon his marital obligations. They are no less fundamental than other religious obligations.

IF one has such an attitude then the odds of him/her having a successful marriage improve considerably.

Think about it and tell me what you think:).

יום רביעי, 8 במאי 2013

How To Succeed At Relationships

How does one reach a state where he/she has a successful marriage? The same way one becomes rich.


Most of the rich people I know worked really hard at earning money. It consumed them day and night.

If one wants to have a happy marriage then he/she must put it at the forefront of their list of priorities. The same of course applies to raising children. Not just another thing we do but a priority.

יום חמישי, 11 באפריל 2013

How To Win An Argument

How do you win an argument with your spouse?

It is VERRRRY easy:).

Try this.

"You are right".

That's all.

Step into his/her shoes, try to see where he/she is coming from, find the validity in their claim [every claim has some basis - even if it is merely the fact that the other person FEELS a certain way] and share your findings with them.

Now that you have done that your spouse will like you MUCH more than he did a minute ago and an amazing thing will PROBABLY happen - he will be much more receptive to your side.

If you are reading this you are PROBABLY Jewish. We have a halachic concept that can and should be applied to most spousal differences: אלו ואלו. These and these are the words of the Living G-d. Both opinions have validity and your job is to find it and come to a mutually satisfying solution.

But what if there is a practical issue at stake? How do you decide who to "pasken" like?

THAT - is a good question for a future post BEZ"H!!:) 

יום ראשון, 17 במרץ 2013

My Wife - My Psychologist

A common dilemma. We guys have issues, problems, things that trouble us, frustrations, unresolved childhood conflict etc. etc. and yet more etc.

Should we involve our wives [hoping you have only one...] in our internal struggles? Should a wife bring her husband into her world of emotional imbalance [I am referring to MILD imbalance which EVERYONE has, including yours truly]?

The answer is nuanced. The first thing that must be made clear is that your spouse is NOT going to solve your problems for you. NOBODY can solve your problems for you, not even your well paid therapist [although you solve many of his/her problems by helping pay for gas and groceries etc.]. But should you share your issues in the hope of lightening the burden?

It depends on you and the spouse. If your spouse is an emotionally understanding person and your issues aren't earth shattering, then sharing can really serve as a bridge to make you closer. Problems could and should be discussed and analyzed. This can help each person understand the other one better and cultivate empathy and deepen the bond.

If your spouse can't deal with hearing your problems - drop it. Talk to a good friend/rabbi/therapist/blogger etc. Or write it in your diary.

Even if your spouse CAN deal with your issues but you are exceptionally emotionally needy then DON'T overburden him/her. It will put undo strain on the marriage. Find someone else with whom to talk.

Like the Ribbono Shel Olam:).


יום חמישי, 14 במרץ 2013

We Vs. Me

Excerpted from the UC Berkeley News Center -

UC Berkeley researchers analyzed conversations between 154 middle-aged and older couples about points of disagreement in their marriages and found that those who used pronouns such as “we,” “our” and “us” behaved more positively toward one another and showed less physiological stress.
In contrast, couples who emphasized their “separateness” by using pronouns such as “I,” “me” and “you” were found to be less satisfied in their marriages. This was especially true for older couples. Their use of separateness pronouns was most strongly linked to unhappy marriages, according to the study.

Moreover, the study found that older couples identified more as “we” than did their middle-aged counterparts, suggesting that facing obstacles and overcoming challenges together over the long haul, including raising families, may give couples a greater sense of shared identity.

“Individuality is a deeply ingrained value in American society, but, at least in the realm of marriage, being part of a ‘we’ is well worth giving up a bit of ‘me,’” said UC Berkeley psychology professor Robert Levenson, a co-author of the study published last semester in the journal Psychology and Aging.

“The use of ‘we’ language is a natural outgrowth of a sense of partnership, of being on the same team, and confidence in being able to face problems together,” said study co-author Benjamin Seider, a graduate student in psychology at UC Berkeley.


Recently someone remarked to me [this person has been married for a number of years]: Before I was married I thought that .... but then after I got married I realized that .... and that was shocking.

Then soon after someone else remarked to me [this person is a newlywed]: Before I was married I thought that ... but now that I am married I realize that .... and it is really hard.

In general marriage LOOKS easy from the outside. What's the big deal?? A boy likes a girl. Then loves her. Same from her side to his. So what is so hard about making it work?

Well, the high divorce rate and the many married couples who struggle, prove that it's not so easy. It's not easy at all. It is actually EXTREMELY hard. Ask any married couple. If you are married - ask yourself:).

The solution: Education. A couple should be educated before marriage and after about how to deal with the infinite complications that arise from the complexity of the most profound and intense relationship in existence.  

יום שלישי, 26 בפברואר 2013

The Search For Happiness

There is no place where people are as short-tempered as on the road. They scream, curse and the blood pressure sky-rockets. [One thing I have noticed in my life is that it is ALWAYS - with rare exceptions - the other guy's fault and not the person who is driving in my car. Interesting how it works out that way....]

Recently my cab driver wanted to get through a certain road block but the security guard was giving him trouble. He was FURIOUS. FUMING. He screamed "אתה באמת דפוק או רק עושה את עצמך ככה" - "Are you really stupid or are you just acting that way??" Somehow - this argument didn't convince the security guard to let us through.... [This "gem" has been repeated numerous times in my house since then, sending everyone squealing with laughter].

Why is this so? Why are people most hot-headed on the road??

People feel as if they are missing SOMETHING. True happiness eludes them. Traveling is a way to somehow pursue that yearned-for feeling of fulfillment. Maybe if they go to that other place they will be happier. I often walk down the street and wonder where everybody is going. What were you missing at point "A" that compel you to go to point "B". People spend tremendous amounts of money and suffer many inconveniences, all to be in a different place [how much does a flight cost?]. Believe me, if people were really happy on the inside they would find no reason to be anywhere other than where they are.

When people are on this literal journey in search of fulfillment they are tense. Something is NOT RIGHT. They don't have the wherewithal to be patient and calm.

Marriage, all relationships, require the opposite. Calm, relaxed, at ease, PATIENT. We need to have the capacity not to turn assumptions into conclusions. To talk. To LISTEN. TO HEAR. To be ACCEPTING.

We have a lot more to say....:)

ועוד חזון למועד

יום שלישי, 19 בפברואר 2013

The Dog Won't Let Me

The "Oilam" tells the following story:

There were once two guys walking in the forest and one of them was shaking with fear because of the possibility that he might be attacked by dogs and eaten alive. His friend told him not to worry. There is a sgula that has been proven to be effective that wards off dogs. One says the pasuk written about yetzias mitzrain "ולכל בני ישראל לא יחרץ כלב לשונו" - "No dog barked at the Jews" and the dogs will not touch him.

His fears were realized when a HUGE beast of a dog attacked him. With great distress he tried to escape. His friend, who was standing in the distance, called out "Why don't you say the pasuk?"

He cried back "The dog won't let me."

When one gets married, he [and she] often enters the marriage with a host of poor character traits. Anger, self-absorbtion, laziness, insensitivity etc. etc. He reads marriage books and even listens to shiurim on the ideal marriage, but when push comes to shove the "dog" inside of him won't let him practice what he learns.

The eitza is to buy a Sichas Mussar of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and work hard on his middos so that the "dog" is exorcised from his spirit.

ספר האיש מקדש עמ' תמד

יום רביעי, 30 בינואר 2013


An [slightly edited] email I received regarding this post.

Notwithstanding the misleading phrasing of a fair percentage of the news sources I looked it up on:
The number of couples that actually divorced in Israel in 2012 was 10,694. (INN, JPost, Israel HaYom... in fact pretty much every news source I checked.)
And I'm becoming increasingly confident that 88,055 is the total number of cases of any sort opened with the בית דין, not only divorce cases. (Data: Ambiguous/does not state "divorce" cases when using this stat: JPost. Others who use that number explicitly state otherwise; for instance: "In 2012, some 88,055 new cases were opened in rabbinical courts, up from 80,636 in 2011. Of these cases, 9,045 involved divorce issues, 4,237 involved clarifications of religious status and 3,640 involved inheritance issues." [Israel haYom] 
And it's more than double the number of couples married in a single year (35,887 in 2010 according to Haaretz), so I suspect (strongly, but not absolutely) that whichever news source the rav read this on had misinterpreted the report from the Rabbinical Courts Administration.
End of email 
I saw the statistic on the news site Kikar Shabbat. Whatever the correct statistics are - even one divorce is too many. 
I thank the sender very much:).

Quotable Quotes - Laugh!!

“The best way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.” -H.V. Prochnow

"A man's wife has more power over him than the state has."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God, and I didn't.” -Unknown

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.”
-Rodney Dangerfield

“Getting married is a lot like getting into a tub of hot water. After you get used to it, it ain't so hot.” -Minnie Pearl

"Behind every great man there is a surprised woman."
-Maryon Pearson

“They say love is blind...and marriage is an institution. Well, I'm not ready for an institution for the blind just yet.” -Mae West

"I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her." -Rodney Dangerfield

“A wedding is just like a funeral except that you get to smell your own flowers.” -Grace Hansen

“If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family.”
-Lawrence Housman

"Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy, fat women." -Marion Smith

“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man's habits and then complain that he's not the man she married?” -Barbra Streisand

"There's a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It's called marriage." -James Holt McGavran

10 Rules Of Marriage

The Ten Rules Of Marriage - Sent by my mother:)

Rule 1
Marriages are made in heaven.
But then again, so is thunder and lightning.

Rule 2
Don't try to change your husband. The last time a woman changes a man is when he is in diapers.
Rule 3
Marriage is grand -- and divorce is at least a 100 grand! 
Rule 4
Married life is very frustrating.
In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens.
In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens.
In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen. 

Rule 5
When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing:
Either the car is new or the wife is.

Rule 6
Marriage is when a man and woman become as one;
The trouble starts when they try to decide which one. 

Rule 7   Before marriage, a man will lie awake all night thinking about something you said .
After marriage, he will fall asleep before you finish.

Rule 8
Every man wants a wife who is beautiful, understanding, economical, and a good cook.
But the law allows only one wife. 

Rule 9

Marriage has no guarantees. If that's what you're looking for, go live with a car battery

Rule 10
A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished.

יום שלישי, 29 בינואר 2013

Over 88 Thousand Tragedies - In Just One Year

UNBELIEVABLE. It was reported in the news that 88,055 couples went to the Israel Rabbinate to register for divorce in the past year, up from from 80,636 last year. That means that in the last 2 years - close to 340,000 couples opened up files for divorce. In addition, even in the Charedi sector the numbers are rapidly rising. WHAT IS GOING ON OVER HERE???

There are numerous reasons for this phenomenon but whatever they are - it is tragic and disturbing news.

Parents And Spouses

What is Kiddushin? Kiddushin is the talmudic term for marriage. But how odd to use a word that brings up associations of sanctifying a korban to the beis hamikdash. I mean, no man plans to bring his wife as a korban....:).

Tosfos [Kiddushin 2b] explains that the essence of Kiddushin is that this woman is separate from the rest of the world and thereby bound to her husband. You cannot buy an object by saying "This sweater is mekudeshes to me". First you acquire it and only then it becomes forbidden to the rest of the world. Marriage is the opposite. First she becomes forbidden to the rest of the world [like hekdesh to the Beis Hamikdash] and only then she becomes set aside and special to her husband. This is expressed in the bracha made on Kiddushin. First we say שאסר לנו את הארוסות and only then והתיר לנו. First she is assur to the rest of the world and then she is bound to her husband. [In brachos we never mention what is ASSUR to us making the bracha on kiddushin an anomaly].

The Torah already defined marriage as יעזוב איש את אביו ואמו ודבק באשתו  - A man [and woman] must leave their parents and cling to their spouse. [I recently read an article where a person claimed that the notion of seeking "chemistry" between a couple is a modern phenomenon in the religious world. I ask: The pasuk advises us to "cling" to our spouse. How is it possible to cling to someone to whom you don't feel connected?! Of COURSE there must be chemistry].

נער הייתי וגם זקנתי - I have been around the block a few times [probably because I have a very poor sense of direction] and have yet to see where the intervention of a parent is helpful to a marriage [OK - I know of one extreme case which is the exception rather than the rule]. Parents and in-laws should stay OUT. The job of the kids is to keep them out. Don't share intimate details of your marriage with your parents. If you need to talk - find someone else. The job of the parent is to encourage the child to become independent, both emotionally and financially. That means that the checkbook should be open [when necessary to help the child stand on his own two feet] and the mouth closed. Parents are far too subjective to be helpful. On the contrary - they usually do more harm than good when overly involved.

If a girl is buying a new sofa and wants her mother's advice on where to shop or a boy is debating whether he should invest his extra money in the stock market or elswhere and his father is a professional money manager - these are areas where parents may be involved. But when it comes to the spousal relationship parents should be in the dark [unless the couple needs money for counseling or the like].

It goes without saying that the children must ALWAYS show their parents the utmost respect. [On shmatsabaitzlusa we have an article coming out on the topic this week אי"ה.]

When there is tension between a wife and mother in-law [when isn't there:)] it is the job of the husband to show FULL SUPPORT for his WIFE. When the husband complains about HIS mother the wife should NEVER agree and say that "Yes, your mother's picture SHOULD appear next to the word 'annoying' in the dictionary." She should rather validate her husbands feelings and then try to gently find some merit for the mother. The reason for this is that the son will ALWAYS love his mother. If he hears that his wife feels negatively about her then he is torn between the two of them. Not a pleasant situation to be in. He should feel that his wife loves him AND his mother.

LADIES - Remember. Your husbands are very sensitive. Very. Women don't have a monopoly on sensitivity. So be careful to try to always make him feel loved and cared for. He left the most important person in his life for you.

His mother.

ע' בקונטרס לחתנים מהגר"ש וולבה זצ"ל ובס' האיש מקדש עמ' תנג

יום שישי, 25 בינואר 2013

Keeping A Marriage Alive And Vital

From a recent article in the New York Times. Thanks to Rabbi Rami Strosberg for sending.

According to studies by Barbara L. Fredrickson, a social psychologist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a flourishing marriage needs three times as many positive emotions as negative ones. In her forthcoming book, “Love 2.0,” Dr. Fredrickson says that cultivating positive energy everyday “motivates us to reach out for a hug more often or share and inspiring or silly idea or image.”

Dr. Lyubomirsky reports that happily married couples average five positive verbal and emotional expressions toward one another for every negative expression, but “very unhappy couples display ratios of less than one to one.”

To help get your relationship on a happier track, the psychologist suggests keeping a diary of positive and negative events that occur between you and your partner, and striving to increase the ratio of positive to negative.

She suggests asking yourself each morning, “What can I do for five minutes today to make my partner’s life better?” The simplest acts, like sharing an amusing event, smiling, or being playful, can enhance marital happiness.

יום שלישי, 22 בינואר 2013

My Interest In Cooking

Quite often I hear women [particularly those who reside in my humble dwelling] talking about food. How they prepared it, how it came out etc. These topics interest me slightly less that the color of the socks that the Defense Minister of Great Britain wore as a child. Recently, when I heard a culinary discussion taking place, I made a facetious comment indicating my "interest" in the topic.

My daughter, the Holy Gila Shoshana, said "זה לא מעניין אותך כי אתה לא מכין את האוכל" - You aren't interested because you don't prepare the food. I said "Gila, you're RIGHT! If I would prepare the food it would be much more interesting for me."

Why should this story interest YOU?

What is כבוד? What does it mean to respect your spouse?


I shouldn't be interested in cooking because my purpose is in this world is to be a cook. I should be interested in cooking because my wife is. That is KAVOD. What is important to you is important to me.    

Try it.....


עי' בס' האיש מקדש עמ' עח

יום שני, 21 בינואר 2013

Another Reason To Stay Married

From The Washington Post:

Numerous studies are now revealing that children of divorce overall are less religious when they grow up, with clear implications for the vitality of the churches. In one study, two-thirds of young adults who grew up in married parent families, compared to just over half who grew up in divorced families, say they are very or fairly religious. And, more than a third of people from married parent families currently attend religious services almost every week, compared to just a quarter of people from divorced families. Given that about one in four of today’s young adults are grown children of divorce, and that more than 40 percent of American children are now born outside of marriage, how these younger generations approach questions of spiritual meaning and religious involvement will influence broader trends in the churches for years to come.

יום שישי, 4 בינואר 2013

Continual Becoming

As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.
Leo Buscaglia
Source: Love : What Life Is All About, Page 116

Love And Faith

Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.

Erich Fromm (1900 - 1980)

Love Heals

You may seek companionship and warmth, for example, but if your unconscious intention is to keep people at a distance, the experiences of separation and pain will surface again and again until you come to understand that you, yourself, are creating them. Eventually, you will choose to create harmony and love. You will choose to draw to you the highest-frequency currents that each situation has to offer. Eventually, you will come to understanding that love heals everything.

The journey may take many lifetimes, but you will complete it. It is impossible not to complete it. It is not a question of if but of when. Every situation that you create serves this purpose. Every experience that you encounter serves this purpose.

Gary Zukav
Source: The Seat of the Soul, Page: 121

יום חמישי, 3 בינואר 2013

Change You

My 2 year daughter is cute [I know that I am biased...]. Beyond cute. She is now at that stage where she is learning a new language. It's called "English". In very original ways she manages to say things that make us laugh. For example: She'll say things like "Change you". She hears her mother saying "Do you want me to change you" and doesn't know how to say "change me" so she says "change you". Her brothers name is "Shmuli" but for her it's "Ulli". Another brother is Simcha whom we call "Simchal'e" and she transformed to "Galei" [I guess from the "chal'e" part of his name].

Why doesn't it bother me that my daughter doesn't speak properly? My son's name is NOT "Galei". "Galei" is a word in our shalosh regalim davening. "Galei kavod malchuscha aleinu".

The answer is that I respect the fact that she is two and quite enjoy it. I don't have very high expectations of her. When I give her something and say "Throw it in the garbage" and she does, I celebrate with her. I accept her for who she is.

We can learn from this a very important lesson about marriage. Your spouse is different than you are. Don't lament the differences. Celebrate them. Enjoy them. Your husband may not be as cute as a 2 year old boy but you can good naturedly laugh at his shortcomings. Humor is healthy. We are all human and are FILLED with shortcomings. They are quite comical at times if you think about them. You can laugh at your own, too. They don't HAVE to annoy you. You don't have to suffer or forgive your spouse for who he or she is.

You can also open yourself up and see that there are different ways of doing things and viewing things from which you are accustomed. Embracing differences and respecting people for who they are is an experience that will transform your life.

[The basic idea was based on האיש מקדש page 195]