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...

  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Actor Zachary Levi said casting directors have denied him roles for being “too Jewish,” despite the fact that he is not a Jew, the New York Daily News‘ Confidenti@l reported on Wednesday. “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look,” he said. “My family is from f****** Indiana! Come on, I’m like dying here!” The Thor star clarified that he is Welsh, and that Levi is actually his middle name, while his real last name is Pugh. He said he […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    The secret of Chabad’s worldwide success is revealed by veteran Chabad shliach (emissary) Rabbi David Eliezrie in his new book, The Secret of Chabad. The Chabad movement was founded by Rabbi Schnur Zalman of Liadi, Belarus, in 1775. Years later it came to the US with the arrival of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1940, after his escape from Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Upon his arrival in New York, a number of his co-religionists advised him that there was no place for traditional […]

    Read more →