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...

  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Seniors at Los Angeles Jewish Home Give Witty Dating Advice Ahead of Valentine’s Day (VIDEO)

    Residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home give dating advice to a young Jewish man in a comedic video posted Monday on YouTube just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jonathan, an associate at the Jewish home, quizzes the senior citizens on an array of topics including having sex on the first date, kissing a girl, who should pay for dinner and whether online dating is a good idea. When the 28-year-old asks a male resident named Lee about his experiences [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Kutsher’s Documentary an Amazing, and Tragic, Look at the Past (REVIEW)

    Anyone who spent time in the Jewish Catskills hotels – especially those like me, who returned for decades – must see the new documentary,”Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort.” Not only will the film transport you back to the glory days of your youth and thousands of memories, but it will also make you long for a world that is now lost forever. I returned to Kutsher’s one last time in the summer of 2009, but by then, the [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Jewish Identity Lifestyle Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    Riding the Wave of Change in Part-Time Jewish Education

    JNS.org – Amid the numerous studies and analyses regarding Jewish American life, a simple fact remains: part-time Jewish education is the most popular vehicle for Jewish education in North America. Whenever and wherever parents choose Jewish education for their children, we have a communal responsibility to devote the necessary time and resources to deliver dynamic, effective learning experiences. The only way we can do this is by creating space for conversations and knowledge-sharing around innovative new education models. That also [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.