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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.