By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
My Rebbetzin was not book smart. She used to deprecatingly say about herself that she was in the top ten in her high school class at BYA. She would then ruefully explain that there was only ten girls in the class. Whenever she heard something that she didn’t know, she’d say with a smile that she must’ve been absent that day. Other times she would joke that she was absent so often that the school probably owed her parents a refund on the tuition. But, what she lacked in scholarly knowledge, she more than made up for with her incredible down-to-earth common sense, what we used to refer to in yeshiva as the ”fifth Shulchan Orech”.
Scattered through Shas we find the phrase, “Margala b’fumei – There is a difference of opinion as to the meaning of this phrase.” Some say that it should be translated to mean a mantra, something that is ragil, frequent on a person’s lips, a popular saying of this particular sage. Others say that it comes from the word margolius, a pearl, and basically it means a ‘pearl of wisdom.’ I would like to share with you some of my dear wife’s popular sayings and, indeed, some of her pearls of wisdom.
When the children were fighting when they were young, she would tell them, “You can kill each other now, as long as you’ll kill for each other when you get older,” and as the children grew up she reinforced this by telling them, “Stay close to one another – that’s all a mother wants to hear.”
When the children had babies of their own, and they were debating whether to accept offers of help from their neighbors, my wife would always say, “Never decline help when you need it; other people also need zechusim, (merits).”
When something occurred that was difficult to understand, like her own illness, lo aleinu, she would say, “Down here there are no answers; upstairs there are no questions.”
She would always advise people, “It doesn’t pay to complain; nobody likes to be around a complainer.”
When talking to a young man who was hesitant about being with his wife during labor and delivery, she would tell him with humor, “If you put the turkey in the oven, you’ve got to be there on Thanksgiving.” (Speak to your Rav if you have questions regarding tznius about this.)
When a young husband was complaining that his kimpatur wife was not making supper, she would say, “It takes nine months to have a baby and at least nine months to recover. There are twelve brands of sugared cereal at the supermarket. Go and buy one of each of them.”
When parents were dismayed at the behavior of their little children, she would calmly tell them, “Just let them be children. They only get that chance once in their lifetimes.”
She would quote sayings from her wise mother, a”h, who used to say, “Smile more often. That way Hashem will give you something to smile about,” and “Greet everyone, even if they don’t answer you back.”
When the children came home and told her that someone did something not nice to them, her frequent response was, “Don’t mind them; they’re just jealous of you.”
When she would see someone behave poorly, she would comment, “I feel badly for their spouse,” or she would say to the children, “Be happy you’re not married to them.”
She was the ultimate vatran-one who looks away from injustices done to them. When someone , who I thought should attend her hakomas matzeiva told me he couldn’t come I was perturbed. But I heard her voice in my ear saying,” Moish let it go, just let it go”. This was constantly how she dealt with the misbehavior of others…just let it go.
I’ve told many stories of how she was kind to all people of all races. She was often heard to say by way of explanation, “We are all G-d’s children.”
When someone complained to her about their job, she would always advise, “Whatever you do, don’t leave this job until you find another one.”
When a young mother would lament to her that she doesn’t have her act together at home with the kids, my wife would remind her that, “There’s fun in dysfunction,” and she would always say that the word family stands for its pneumonic, “Father, And Mother, I Love You.”
She would recommend the best way to treat someone who is not nice is to respond with kindness. She would advise people, “Don’t say, ‘sorry.’ Rather say, ‘I’m sorry’ ”.
And many times she could be heard saying, “Life’s too short; make shalom now.”
In the merit of following these wise sayings, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
P.S. I’d like to thank my daughters Chani Feldman and Devorah Rosenberg for helping me with the above sayings. There are so many more…
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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