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by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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Hear, O Israel! The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is the one Eternal Being.
Mr. Tzvi Goldblum (1882-1931) was always bringing guests to his home in London and was very devoted to the mitzvah of giving generous hospitality.
Once an old man who had come from Poland to England to collect money, arrived on his doorstep. He was received with Tzvi Goldblum’s usual gracious hospitality. He served him a meal, and when he noticed that his guest was tired from the trip, he invited him to go upstairs, where he would find two beds already prepared for him and for another guest.
When the elderly guest finished his meal, he mistakenly entered his host’s bedroom and went to sleep on one of the beds there. When Tzvi wanted to retire with his wife, he discovered that his own bedroom was occupied by his guest, and there were no other unoccupied beds. Since he did not wish to wake the old man, he and his wife slept that night on benches in another room. He was so considerate that he also cautioned everyone not to reveal the guest’s mistake, so as not to cause him embarrassment. OLAM CHESED YIBANEH, VOL. II, p.306).
It is not enough just to speak or philosophize about acts of kindness. Mr. Goldblum’s example of chesed illustrates the length one may have to go to bestow chesed. This chesed should also be shown to our spouses.
When Moshe went up to the heavens to receive the Torah, he heard the angels praising Hashem with these words: “Baruch Shem K’vod Malchus L’olam Va’ed.” Moshe brought these words of praise back down to earth with him and gave them to Israel to use in their prayers.
The truth is that these words of praise are so exalted that really, according to the letter of the law, only the angels are allowed to say them aloud. But what is so special about verbalizing these exalted words of praise? And why does the midrash bring the parable of the piece of jewelry stolen from the king?
Uttering these special words is, in effect, declaring that we feel we can glorify His holy name because we are spiritually worthy of doing so. An obvious correlation of making this statement is that we are obligating ourselves to act in a way consistent with our claim that we are worthy. If we are living that contradicts what we are saying, we must realize that we do not have the right to speak such lofty praise.
Because of the risk involved, Hashem did not intend to give these words to Israel, and He left it in Moshe’s hands to decide whether or not he felt that Israel could handle these words, which carried so demanding an obligation. Moshe knew of the great danger if the Jewish people failed the test, yet did not want to altogether lose these valuable words of praise. So, he decided on a compromise: Israel would say it quietly and not publicly. Moshe’s reasoning was that if we were to say it loudly, we would be setting ourselves up for trouble, since we do not consistently do what we ought. He therefore needed to come up with a way to use the words, despite our unworthiness. Moshe accepted this solution because he felt that by saying it quietly, we are admitting that we know we are not a high enough level to speak such praise aloud. Nonetheless, it would let us fulfill our desire to express our love for Hashem with these magnificent words.
Moshe’s resolution is similar to the parable in the midrash, where the husband saw a beautiful piece of jewelry which had a value well beyond his means. He wanted to give it to the person he loved most, even though he was not justified to have it. Although it is clearly wrong for him to steal, at least the husband’s motivation was pure.
We can learn from Moshe’s desire to give these precious words to the Jewish people and from the parable that a man should feel that his wife is so special that he wants to bring her gifts in order to show his love and admiration.
When a husband shows his love by bestowing gifts or kind words on his wife, he is sure to arouse a positive response from her. Women are usually sensitive to any display of love and admiration from their husbands, as they have a deep desire to feel their husbands’ love and appreciation. When they perceive their husband’s love through his deeds and words, it makes all a wife’s toil and bother on behalf of her family worthwhile.
Since we can so easily show this sort of appreciation to our wives and give them this feeling of contentment, it is really cruel on a man’s part not to do so. We know that one of the ways to emulate Hashem is to love doing chesed. This should be our goal and we even mention it at the end of the Amidah when we ask for “love of chesed.” By showing love and appreciation, a husband has such a simple way of performing chesed on a daily basis.
Similar opportunities exist for a wife. She has countless occasions to show her love for her husband. She can receive him with a smile when he comes home. She can get dressed nicely just to greet him. She can buy him a gift. Any expression of love is doing chesed and strengthens the bond between a married couple.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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