By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
In Masechtas Sanhedrin, the Gemora informs us “Tchilas dino shel adom eino ela b’divrei Torah – A person is judged first in regard to his Torah studies.” The Gemora also tells us, in Masechtas Shabbos, one of the first things a person will be grilled about is whether they did their business faithfully and with integrity. It stands to reason that this refers to the judgement of a man. A woman, however, is not obligated to study Torah and is not required by a Kesuvah to support the family, and therefore she will have a different kind of interrogation. Since the Torah says she was created to be an eizer k’negdo, a helper to her partner, it is likely that her final reckoning will start with how she lived up to this responsibility.
As I walk down memory lane, my dear readers, let me share some of the ways my Rebbetzin excelled at being a helping partner so that we can learn by example. Of course, there is no firm syllabus on this subject. As Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l zy”a says, every marriage is like a ship at sea and has to chart its own course, and one has to design a helping strategy which is unique to the needs of their relationship. Even so, the reader should be able to glean important lessons from my wife’s examples.
It’s interesting that when I think of my wife as an eizer one of the first things that comes to mind is how she always made sure to wake me up for my shiurim, my Torah lectures. This is not as simple as it sounds. Many times I would come home after an arduous day and desperately need a nap before my night’s two daf yomis. So I would take a rest at 7:15 p.m. and she would have to shake me out of a deep sleep so that I could make my first daf at 8 o’clock. She would start at 7:40, then again at 7:45, and again at 7:50. Sometimes, I would do this between 9:10 and 9:40 p.m. with the same routine. Probably the hardest time was waking me up from a Shabbos nap on a short Shabbos after two plates of cholent so that I should be at shul on time for the 3:00 p.m. daf yomi, or waking me up for shacharis after a seder that ended at 4 a.m. And then there was the early days of our marriage when she woke me up sometimes at 12:30 a.m. so that I could get to WNYM radio in time for my 1:00 a.m. daf yomi. I’m making a big deal about this because in 34 years she certainly woke me up for literally thousands of shiurim. Furthermore in 34 years because of her dedication I did not miss a SINGLE shiur, solely due to her devotion! I bask in the knowledge that, for each and every one of these thousands of shiurim, she is now collecting eternal rewards for being a staunch and loyal partner. There were many times that if she woke up early from her nap, she didn’t risk going back to sleep so that she wouldn’t miss out on getting me up on time. It might not sound so special, being a human alarm clock and snooze button, but it meant the world to me. Remember anytime that you as a spouse are in a position where you and only you can provide a service for your partner-there is where you can make yourself indispensable and appreciated.
Here’s another example. When people would call up that I should travel to them and give shiurim, many would try to take advantage and not offer to pay me. She would step in as my right hand and take the phone and tell me, “Moish, let me handle this.” She would then get on the phone with the rabbi, the president, or the head of the Ladies auxiliary, and ask them, “Don’t you think that my husband also has to pay tuition?” Or she would say, “You do pay your plumber and your carpenter!? My husband also has to make a living!”
When reflecting upon how my wife helped me, I am also so grateful to her that she pushed me to do many extracurricular mitzvos. She would say to me when there was a nichum aveilim, an opportunity to comfort a mourner who I did not know, “Moish, you don’t know them but they know you and it would sure make a big difference if you visited them.” She did this many times when it came to visiting the sick or going to a wedding. In this way, throughout the decades, she caused me to do untold extra mitzvos. I couldn’t tell her no, since she never asked of me what she didn’t do herself.
I hope to continue this subject next week but in the meantime, my dear readers, think of ways that you can help your partner and in that merit may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Please learn, give tzedaka, and daven l’iluy nishmas of Miriam Liba bas Aharon.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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