By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
When the children of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk were preparing his famous work on the Rambam (studied avidly in yeshivas all around the globe) for print, they wrote a preface. Before its release the Gri”z, zt”l, zy”a, had a startling dream. In the dream, his mother, Rebbetzin Lipshah, the wife of Rav Chaim, came to him and asked him why she wasn’t mentioned in, and given proper credit in the preface. After all, she stood by her husband’s side and aided him all her years. In those days, it wasn’t common to mention a woman so the Gri”z went to Rav Riger, the Dayan of Brisk, to ask him what to do. The Dayan said that she was correct and that by all means she should be mentioned in the preface. And so, this is what they did and if you look in the Rav Chaim in the Rambam, she is given prominent credit.
Rav Shteinman, zt”l, zy”a, wonders why Rebbetzin Soloveitchik visited this world in a dream to get some relatively paltry credit in the temporal world of Olam HaZeh, when she was already basking in the infinite pleasures of the Shechina in the Next World. He surmises that she did it not for the fleeting honorable mention in this world for herself, but rather to be mechaziek, to strengthen other wives of talmidei chachamimin this world. Of course, by doing so, her neshama automatically gets an aliya, an elevation, every time someone else is inspired from what is written about her. I too would like to share with you examples of how my dear wife was an incredible eizer k’negdo, a helpful partner to inspire with through her behavior, the many wonderful partners that are reading these articles.
At the second Seder this year, when I began singing Chasal sidur Pesach, I broke out in crying. The Seder was never easy on my Rebbetzin. When it came to the four cups, she had a hard time even with grape juice, and she had difficulty with eating a large amount of matzah and romaine lettuce, and she didn’t do well with the very late hour, on top of everything else. So, every year at Chasal sidur Pesach, she would whisper to me, “Moish, I did it. Now I’m going to bed.” As I escorted her to the bedroom, although it was a hard experience for her, every single time she would say to me, “Moish, what a beautiful seder you made.” This was her magnificent way! As it says about the Eishes Chayil, “Pihah pos’chah b’chochmah, v’Soras chesed al l’shonah – Her mouth opens with wisdom and the study of kindness is upon her lips.” Most people assume this means strategies of kindness like packages for Tomchei Shabbos and the making of Chinese auctions. But the literal meaning is to ‘know how to say kind things.’ It’s a game-changer in the quality of any marriage.
When the married children would call me for advice, she would say to me Moish, it’s such a compliment to you that the children know that they can call you.” When the girls would call me in the middle of the night with a medical question, she would say, “Moish, it’s speaks volumes that your daughters feel so close to you, that they could call you anytime.” When we would be sitting by a Shabbos or Yomtov table, and the children would give her a well-deserved compliment on her delicious cooking, she would say, “Thank your father. He works very hard to provide us with all this delicious stuff.” Similarly, when we would be enjoying the bungalow in the mountains, she would remind the children, “It costs a lot of money for your father to bring us up here! Never forget that.”
Shlomo HaMelech teaches us, “U’lshon chachomim marpei – And the tongues of the wise are healing and soothing.” I remember when I would get a pain or sensation she would tell me, “Nothing to worry about. You had this before, it lasted a few weeks and got better on its own.” For decades, I prepared on Tuesdays for my global chumash shiur. Sometimes because of other pressures, I got a late start. She would always be there, calmly reassuring me, “Moish, it’s going to be great. I remember many times when you started even later than this.” And how many hundreds of times did she come to me after a shiur and tell me “It was great. The crowd was mesmerized. They can’t stop talking about the shiur.” When she would see me help a couple either financially or especially in the area of shalom bayis, she would tell me, “I envy your schar.” I would be quick to reassure her that she shares equally in everything I do.
In the merit of going out of our way to compliment and say sweet things to our spouse, To use our smarts and our hearts to be a driving force in our mates confidence, happiness, and success. May Hashem bless us with a long sweet union, together with good health, happiness, 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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