By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Kesubos 58 – On the Home Front
The twelve month deadline has come and gone, but the chassan is still stalling. For some reason, he is not yet ready to have the chasunah and carry out nisuin. At such a point, he becomes obligated to provide for his wife’s sustenance. If he is a Kohein, the Mishna Rishona has it that he can give her terumah, which is less expensive than chulin. What, though, with the part of the month during which she is temeiah and cannot eat terumah?
That is a subject of dispute between Rabi Akiva and Rabi Tarfon. Rabi Akiva holds that he cannot exempt himself by giving her terumah, which she cannot eat, during that time. Every month, he must give her enough chulin to last half thereof. Rabi Tarfon, though, says that he can give her terumah exclusively. Ay, she cannot eat it when she is temeiah? No problem; she can sell it and buy chulin for herself.
The Gemara qualifies, though, this shitah of Rabi Tarfon. It is only regarding an arusah, who is still living in her father’s or brothers’ home, that he says this. Reason being, she won’t need to go out to the marketplace herself to sell the terumah and buy chulin; her father or brothers can take care of it for her.
However, a woman who is fully married, but for some reason is living in separate living quarters (this topic is a sugyah discussed later around daf 64b), even Rabi Tarfon agrees that her husband must directly give her chulin for the part of the month that she cannot eat terumah. Why? Because, explains Rashi, if he were to give her terumah, she’d be on her own to go out to the marketplace and sell it. And he has no right to cause her to have to do that, because of the pasuk, “Kol kevudah bas melech pnimah.” The honor and respectability of Jewish women who are royalty, is in her inner chambers. Her husband has no right to make her belittle herself by having to go out to the market. She has a right to insist that she not be made to leave her abode.
Kol kevudah bas melech pnimah is not a restriction but a privilege. It is an honor and mark of the respectability of royalty that is every Jewish woman’s inherited right. The truth is, that this is abundantly clear from the wording of the pasuk itself. We don’t really need this sugyah to recognize that. Nevertheless, we cannot help but notice this point being highlighted and emphasized here.
In any event, for us, the million dollar question of course is, how can we go about inculcating this outlook in our daughters? We live in a society that tends to view the concept of Kol kevudah bas melech pnimah in a negative, restrictive light. So what can we do to correct this problem?
Truth be told, probably the best and most thorough way to do this would be by devoting a major part of the curriculum in Beis Yaakov’s to this central topic. Unfortunately, it seems that there are many girls whose primary exposure to the fundamentals of tznius is mostly in the form of occasional mussar talks when teachers or administrators notice things that are not to their liking. It doesn’t take much to realize that such an approach is likely going to engender a decidedly unpleasant association. I seem to remember once seeing an article in which it was mentioned that there are in fact some Beis Yaakov’s that have begun taking a proactive approach to present the matter from a positive, people-building angle by making a whole curriculum out of it. That is terrific, and halevai that all Beis Yaakov’s would follow suit.
As parents, though, we can never rest on our laurels and assume that sending our kids to the right schools suffices. Even if the school really is doing everything right. There is no question that, no matter how wonderful the school, a major part of a child’s chinuch is from the family. So what can we contribute on the home front?
One thing, for sure, is to foster an overall positive association with being at home. A home in which there is shalom and love abounds, in which the atmosphere is light and pleasant, is a home where people want to be. It is a home where people feel honored to be. They feel that is a true zechus, a bonafide privilege, to be able to be there.
On the other hand, if the home is a place where the child feels criticized, belittled, and invalidated – or even if it is just that the aura at home is heavy, somber, or gloomy – then it would not be such a surprise if it becomes a place which the child is constantly trying to escape therefrom, would it?
In addition to creating a general sense of positivity and pleasantness in the home, it is also important to engage in focused positive reinforcement. In other words, zoom in on the child to make her (or him for that matter) feel wonderful about the fact that she is at home. When she does something, say like sweeping the floor, tell her how nice it is to have a clean floor! When she comes out all dressed for Shabbos, say something like, “Oh, how beautiful you look! I love the fact that I get to have such a beautifully dressed daughter at my Shabbos table; there is something so special that it adds!” Even something as mundane and routine as homework can become an opportunity for focused positivity reinforcement. When she is buckled down in the thick of her homework (when she got to it of her own volition), you could say something like this, “Kol ha’kavod! Seeing how hard you work at your homework inspires me to also put my all into my learning/work!”
By creating a generally uplifting atmosphere in the home and by engaging in ongoing, focused positivity reinforcement, our daughters will, with Hashem’s help, come to relate to Kol kevudah bas melech pnimah for what it truly is: an inestimable honor and privilege.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.