Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Yitro: When You Are Not in the Mood of Your Spouse

February 5, 2010 2:02 am 1 comment

Share this Article

The Modern Couple. Photo: Colin Grey

A Doctor’s Advice
A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s office. Following her husband’s checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office to speak with her privately. He said, “Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely deteriorate and die.”

“Each morning,” instructed the doctor, “fix him a healthy breakfast.  Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal.  For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Have the dinner waiting for him on the table, hot, as he arrives home from work. Don’t burden him with chores.  Don’t discuss your problems with him; it will only make his stress worse. No nagging is allowed.  You must also compliment him at least five-six times a day, telling him how brilliant and talented he is. And most importantly, never disagree with him.”

“If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year,” the doctor said, “I think your husband will regain his health completely.”
On the way home, the husband asked his wife, “What did the doctor say?”
“He said you’re going to die,” she replied.

The Proposal

There is an enigmatic Talmudic passage explaining a peculiar phrase in this week’s portion, Yisro: “They (the Jewish people) stood in the bottom of the (Sinai) mountain.”

What is the meaning of the words “in the bottom of the mountain”? The Talmud explains that the Jews were actually standing inside the mountain. “G-d enveloped them with the mountain as though it was an upturned vat, and He said to them: ‘If you accept the Torah, fine; if not, this will be your burial place.'”

The event at Sinai is viewed as the marriage ceremony between G-d and the Jewish people. Imagine a groom, who on the day of his wedding, placed his bride under an elevator and declared: “If you marry me, great; if not, the elevator will come down on your head.” How enduring can such a relationship be? Couldn’t G-d have found a more “romantic” way to convince the “bride” to marry Him?

What is even more puzzling is the fact that according to the biblical narrative, the Jewish people had already expressed their willingness to accept the Torah before this event. Why was it necessary for G-d to coerce them into something they had already agreed upon?

Let us present the explanation offered by one of the greatest spiritual masters of all time, the Baal Shem Tov.

Numb Days

There are days when we are emotionally in touch with our inner idealism, spirituality and G-dliness. At such times we are inspired to live deeply and to love deeply.

But then come the days when we feel estranged from our souls. We are emotionally numb, experiencing ourselves merely as self-centered and materialistic creatures seeking to satiate nothing more than our momentary cravings. We are simply not in the mood for our higher, refined aspirations. G-d does not appeal to us. At such times of spiritual alienation, we often succumb to mundane and selfish behavior. Since we feel disconnected, we act as though we are indeed disconnected.

This is a mistake. By G-d forcing the Jewish people to enter into the relationship—even though they had already agreed—He demonstrated to them the truth that their relationship was not based on the fact that they were consciously passionate about it. Instead, the relationship was inherent and essential to their very chemistry. Man is an innately sacred and Divine creature. “Even when you are not in the mood of me,” G-d was intimating, “our relationship is as strong as ever. Act on it.”
Yet you may still think, “Fine, I will behave, but let’s face it, the relationship is not happening. It is all but dead.”

So G-d says “no.” By placing the mountain on their heads at the moment of Revelation, during the profoundest moment of intimacy between G-d and his people, G-d was saying that a relationship inspired by the knowledge that this is the truth, though you may not feel it, is a genuine and authentic relationship. It is a real union. Though there is no passion, when you behave in a moral and sacred fashion knowing that this is who you really are, it is a true bond.

Rocky Moments

In the Jewish tradition, the marriage of each man and woman reflects the cosmic marriage between G-d and His people. There are the days when we feel truly grateful for our spouses and experience deep love towards them. At such times we crave to give of ourselves to our spouses and make their lives happier.

But at other times we become cold and apathetic. We just want to do “our own thing” and simply are not in the mood of the relationship.

In the majority of cases, it would be a sad error to act upon those feelings of detachment. For the Kabbalah teaches that a wife and husband are essentially “two halves of a single soul.” At their core, they are one. Thus, when a couple enters into marriage, it needs to recall what G-d reminded us on the day of His marriage: Whether we are in the mood of each other or not, we are married and we are one.

Such a commitment could save many marriages when they encounter rocky times. After all, it saved the marriage between G-d and the Jews.

1 Comment

  • Dear sir:
    While visiting my son in Queens, I came across your article while reading this and that; though I am not Jewish, rather Baptist, I thank you greatly for what you have written as it has touched my soul! You clearly gave great example of what occurs in my married life!

    Again, thank you, and for some odd reason, I feel whole, hopeful and renewed -even drawn to- when I see the Jewish people around me.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →