Little things make a big difference in life – especially to a wife. A Nice word. A little smile. A small gift. A note of thanks. A meaningful moment together.
The Purpose of Marriage
The purpose of marriage is to be able to make a relationship between man & woman who will live a meaningful, loving, satisfying life spiritually and materially. This union – through the guidance of the Torah – helps a couple achieve their purpose in life. When this foundation is understood – it is more likely to thrive and survive.
One of the foundations of the Torah is doing Kindness. The world stands upon Kindness. Kindness starts at home. According to Torah, A man is to give a gift to his wife before each Jewish holiday and when he finds something to her liking. It is recommended for him to buy flowers for Shabbat. He must talk with her with respect. He must satisfy her, material, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. She is a partner in the marriage. Their couple is one of personal and spiritual growth.
Your own needy & the needy of your city – your needy take precedence. Some are kindly with strangers. Yet, at home they are a tyrant. That is not the Torah way. The Torah way is to give more attention and kindness to those closer to you.
All kind things are recommended by Torah to have at home. Shalom Bayit / peace at home allows a person to live a productive and meaningful life. If peace is at home, children live a more serene, secure, stable and balanced existence – which allows them to have a more balanced personality. If bickering is at home – children are affected negatively. There is no magic cure for Shalom Bayit. Yet there are recommendations.
Learn to Do little Nice things
Help around the house. Take care of fixing something. Say thank you. Say I appreciate all that you do. Appreciation is one of the foundations of Judaism. We are called Yehudim – which comes from the name Yehuda – which comes from the Hebrew word for “giving thanks.” Appreciation can be expressed with word, gifts or action. If you don’t know what to say – leave a note. We – Ohr Binyamin – give out free Judaica cards. Once someone asked me – Do You have a card on Shalom bayit / Peace at Home. I said Yes – “It is called the You are Special Card – read one of the things to show how special you are to your wife every day.”*
Pray to Hash-m for Shalom Bayit
Pray to Hash-m / G-d for Shalom Bayit. He will give you opportunities to have peace. At times divorce may be in order – but discussions with a competent Orthodox rabbi must precede it. Grounds for divorce in Judaism – if a partner is unfaithful or other things. But as mentioned before, a competent Orthodox rabbi should be involved.
Learn About Shalom Bayit
To have Peace at Home one should have a goal to have Peace at Home. Read Jewish books, attend Jewish Classes, see Jewish seminars on the subject of Shalom Bayit. You can do it together or alone. One book I read even before I got married was – the River, the Kettle & The Bird – which is based upon a Gemara / Talmud Tractate in Berakhot. It says that one who dreams of those things will have peace at home. The book explains the entire concept of the 3 different forms of relationships that one can have in marriage. In short 1) a give and take / business-deal relationship, 2) a company employee relationship – you take care of kids – I’ll make the money 3) A single unit relationship – like a bird that soars to the sky and lands on earth – as one unit they soar to spiritual heights.
Learn Torah or Pirkei Avot Together
It is good to have a small learning session together – regularly. It could be 5 minutes daily or bi-weekly. Communication is key to speak together at least 1/2 hour a day.
Send Your Children to an Orthodox Torah Day School
When children are in line – it helps parents to get along. If one parent thinks children should do A – while the other thinks B is more appropriate – it is an tension builder. Torah schools Teach Kivud Av Vaem – Honoring parents, Derech Eretz – proper conduct, Respect of Others, Respect of Elders, Respect of Rabbis. If they are acting properly – it reduces stress & strain.
Be into Self-Improvement
The Torah way is to be better every day. Today I am good. Tomorrow I am better. This is only done through Torah Self improvement works – called Mussar.
Make Torah Your Guide in Life
Orthodox Jews usually have stable marriages. One major reason is they base their life, actions and thoughts on Torah. Torah is a detailed guide of how to live a meaningful, peaceful, productive, purposeful life. Basing one’s life on Torah – will help set foundations for a peaceful home. Shabbat – allows us to enjoy time with the family. The Torah recommends to and commends people to marry. It is a Mitzvah / commandment. The commandment to marry – pushes people to marry and not tarry. The Torah sets peaceful foundations at home.
My uncle – a Shachan / Matchmaker – asked an older man why he never got married. He replied “I forgot to.” Statistics show, many Jews outside the Orthodox community are either marrying later or choosing a life of being single. Apparently, one reason is that they view not the importance of marriage as the Torah proposes.
Other reasons may be – they don’t find the right one, they have other priorities, they prefer being single, they don’t want responsibilities involved, they are involved in other things – like a career, education. When one learns the proper hashkafot / Jewish outlook of marriage – one becomes more interested in tying the knot. Pushing marriage off – without making a serious concerted effort – at least as one would do to find a job – might make it harder later. As a youth – one is more idealistic and set in their ways. There are more opportunities – thus many Orthodox Jews get married younger – to found a family according to the guidance of Torah.
A Compatible Mate
One most important thing in having peace at home is choosing a mate with similar goals, values, mentalities, and aspirations. A statistic that supports Interracial marriages have a divorce rate of 41% after 10 years while – same race marriage had a divorce rate of 31%.
Choosing the Right Mate – Finding Similarities
We try to choose people as mates that come from a good family and have good character traits. G-d matches people with similar values. If you want a better mate improve yourself. I give that as advice to people. “If you are hanging out at bars, you will likely marry someone who does the same. If you attend Torah Lectures / Shiurim, you will likely marry someone who does the same. If you study Torah and pray daily, , you will likely marry someone who does the same. Thus if you improve your level of Torah observance – you will likely get a mate that also does the same.”
Do Your Due Diligence
Thus many Orthodox Jews do extensive research on a mate prospect before agreeing to a date. They involve Shadchanim / Matchmakers, Rabbis, Friends of the spouse prospect, roommates & more. They do their homework. They ask about if they have good Middot / charachter traits, are they psychologically stable, are they diligent in studying torah, are they responsible, can they support a family, where is their mindset. If they do their homework – there are less surprises once married. It makes sense – you do your research for buying a car – which may last 10 years – then marriage that is a relationship that is supposed to last a lifetime – homework is in order.
Deal Breaker – Judaism & Good Character Traits
A Jew searching for a marriage mate should have several deal breakers. One of them – their potential spouse should be Jewish – for the reasons mentioned in the article. The second is that the spouse should have good personal character traits / middoth. Good middot make the difference between a peaceful marriage and a stressful one. A person who is learning Torah has an advantage in the sense that they usually adhere to the precepts of the Torah in the Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers. But it is not a guarantee.
Jews who marry Jews have a more peaceful marriages than – mixed marriages. According to Torah it is forbidden for a Jew to intermarry – for it causes the children to leave the Torah faith & follow after foreign worship. Statistics show, Most married Jewish parents say they are raising their children as Jewish by religion. Yet, Statistics also show, Intermarried parents much less likely to be raising their children Jewish.
A Jewish woman in a mixed marriage documentary said: “Our marriage was going smoothly until the birth of our baby boy. I was thrilled and wanted to arrange for a Bris (circumcision). But my husband thought I was crazy and said, ‘I won’t allow that …” Egon Mayer, a professor at Brooklyn College who studies interfaith issues and published a study linking intermarriage with higher divorce rates, Children of intermarried couples frequently suffer an identity crisis. “Where do they go? Who do they Identify with? Which holiday should they observe?” Are questions they ask.
If people are already intermarried – the couple should consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi – see OU.org synagogue finder – to see what is involved in converting the gentile / non-Jewish spouse to Torah Judaism. Usually the spouse must agree to a Torah Study program, to Follow laws of Shabbat / the Sabbath, Kashrut / Keeping Kosher and Family Purity Laws. Practical advice for any person who wishes to convert to Judaism – is to seek an Orthodox Rabbi – that know the laws and can guide you to a Beit Din / Jewish Court of Law who will perform a conversion that is accepted by all Orthodox Rabbis. If you are going to do it – do it right.
Conversion to Judaism
I knew a Ger / convert to Judaism who was converted through one Beit Din that was not so reliable and decided to do another conversion – through a more reliable one. His Name was Charlie.
Gentiles who Marry Gentiles
For gentiles, the way they live also affects their mate. If they learn their 7 Noahide Laws from the Torah – they will more likely marry a mate that will do the same.
Judaism & Self Improvement
If each member of the couple has a goal of self improvement – it makes for a better marriage. I want to make the other person happy. I want to make Hash-m happy. Thus I try to be on my best behavior. My goal is to make a peaceful home – not to show that I am right. The best Self-improvement works you will every find are based upon Torah sources. What the world calls self-improvement – we call Mussar.
Do Kindness at home and you will find kindness.
One of the Pillars the world stands upon is kindness.
The Raison d’Etre of the Universe is mentioned in Pirkei Avot 1:2:
2. Shimo’n the righteous was from the remainder of the men of the Great Assembly. He used to say: Upon three things the world stands [ie, its reason for its continued existence]– On the Torah, on the [Divine] Service [ie, prayer or korbanot / offerings on the altar] & on acts of loving kindness.
Make it your goal to do kindness in your world and kindness will come back.
*We have many cards that can help Shalom Bayit – Like Derech Eretz / Proper Conduct Card, The Gratitude / the Basket of Compliments card, Prayer for Protection of Children & How to Show Your Love & Appreciation, and the Tehillim / Psalms for Shalom Bayit)
Caveat – we sometimes link to Sefaria.org. Although it is a valuable resource for providing Jewish sources – the site also has works that are contrary to authentic Torah values. Some translations of authentic Torah sources might be suspect as well. The sources we link to are authentic. To not be misguided by false Torah values masquerading as Torah – be wary – on the site itself – to use the sources there that are authentic Torah values. Here is a list of some of them.
If you are unsure it is authentic Torah – ask a competent Orthodox Rabbi. Authentic Torah sages & commentators include Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Sforno, Abarbanel, Aderet Eliyahu (Rabbi Yosef Chaim), Alshich , Avi Ezer, Bartenura on Torah, Bekhor Shor, Birkat Asher on Torah, Chatam Sofer, Chizkuni, Chomat Anakh, Daat Zkenim,
Gur Aryeh, HaKtav VeHaKabalah, Haamek Davar, Kitzur Baal Haturim, Kli Yakar,
Malbim, Minchat Shai, Minei Targuma, Mizrachi, Ohev Ger, Or HaChaim, Paaneach Raza, Penei David, Rabbeinu Bahya, Ralbag Beur HaMilot, Ralbag on Torah, Rashbam,
Recanati on the Torah, Riva, Rosh, Shadal, Siftei Chakhamim, Torah Temimah on Torah, Tur HaAroch, Tzafnat Pa’neach, Tzror HaMor)