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MARRIAGE COUNSELING

by Rabbi Ariel Asa    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In the Milchamsky household. . .

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In the Milchamsky household. . .

"Hi honey, I’m home," Dave said to his wife as he walked through the door. "How was your day, dear?" Mrs. Milchamsky asked. "Just awful. My co-worker is impossible to get along with, and this project is going to last another two months. I feel horribly frustrated. I’m in the mood to really stir up a scene at work tomorrow."

"I’m sorry to hear that. I definitely think you should march into the boss’ office first thing in the morning and give him an ultimatum either the co-worker goes or you go. Don’t let yourself be pushed around. You have to stick up for your rights." So the conversation (or rather the tirade) continued for several minutes.

Meanwhile, in the Shalomsky household, a very similar scenario was unfolding. As Mrs. Shalomsky was thinking how best to reply to her husband’s problem, she stopped to think about the impact of her words. . .

"Hmm," she started, "it sounds like you’re really disenchanted with your co-worker. Perhaps you should sit down with him and have an open discussion about the things he does that frustrate you." Within a few minutes, a look of relief came across Mr. Shalomsky’s face as he thought about what he would say on the morrow. Then he thought how lucky he was to have a wife who always knew just how to tactfully oppose him and help him keep his cool.

When Hashem was preparing to create the first female, He said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make for him a helpmate opposed to him (eizer k’negdo)." We don’t usually perceive of a helpmate as someone who is going to be on the opposition. However, as is clear from the scenario above, a true helpmate knows when to gently oppose her spouse, thus saving him from untold hardship and pain. Thus, a deeper meaning of the words of the classic commentary Rashi on this verse: "If he merits, [she is] a helpmate. If he doesn’t merit, [she is] opposed to him". If he merits, then her opposition will help him. If he doesn’t merit, even her support will be an ultimate opposition to him.

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Based on the commentary of the Netziv, rosh yeshiva (dean) of the outstanding 19th century Lithuanian Yeshiva of Volozhin.

Rabbi Ariel Asa is an educator at Torah Day School of Atlanta and a practicing mohel.

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