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    Honor your Wife

Avraham Tzvi Schwartz


It’s not enough to do acts of kindness with others, one must act kindly with one’s family as well. Who then should the generous man begin with, if not his wife?[1] This is especially important for another reason. She, our Rabbis teach us, is every husband’s source of prosperity and happiness.

He who finds a wife, finds goodness; he will receive Hashem’s good favor. (Mishle 18.22)
R’ Chanilai said: A man who has no wife lives without joy,[2] without blessing[3] and without goodness.[4]
In the West they say: He dwells without Torah[5] and without a wall.[6]
Rava bar Ulla said: He dwells without peace.[7] (Yevamos 62b)
R’ Elazar said: A man who has no wife is no man.[8] (Yevamos 63a)

Love and Honor

Rav Chelbo said, “A man should always treat his wife with respect, for blessing only enters his house on her account.[9]
Similarly Rava told the people of Mechuza, “Honor your wives, that you may become rich.” (Bava Metzia 59a)
Rav Avira taught, at times in Rav Ami’s name, and at times in Rav Assi’s name: A person should eat and drink at a level less than he can afford, clothe and acquire a home according to what he can afford[10] and honor his wife and children more than he can afford; for they depend on him,[11] while he depends on the One who created the world with His word. (Chulin 84b)
Rav Yitzchak taught: One who has lived with his wife for a time, even if he becomes poor, she will not reject him. “When he had wealth,” she will say, “he fed and clothed me, therefore I will not leave him.”
However, a prostitute, when he gives her gifts she is appreciative, but when he doesn’t give her gifts, she doesn’t know him.[12] (Shmos Raba 32.5)


Just as honoring one’s wife brings to wealth, so a lack of honor has the opposite effect.

Rav Huna taught: One who is cursed by his wife,[13] comes to poverty.

“Being cursed by his wife,” said Rava, “refers to a case where he doesn’t buy her jewelry; this however, is only true where he can afford to buy it.[14] (Shabbos 62b)

Rava bar Rav Ada said in the name of Rav: One who marries a woman for her money,[15] will have ill-bred children ...

The Gemara asks: Maybe at least, he will enjoy the money?

“No,” the Gemara answers, “within a month he will squander it all.”[16] (Kidushin 70a)
One who hopes for his wife’s earnings ... sees no blessing.
This however, refers to one who sends his wife to the market with a scale.[17]

Peace and Harmony

The man who together with honoring his wife, fulfills his duties to his family and society, achieves a harmony and peace that makes for true wealth.

The Rabbis taught: One who loves his wife as himself,[18] and honors her more than himself, who guides his children along the straight path,[19] and marries them when they reach maturity – of him the verse says, “Know that there will be peace in your tent.” (Iyov 5.24). (Yevamos 62b)
The Rabbis taught: One who loves his neighbors and helps his relatives, who marries off his niece and lends money to a man in distress – of him the verse says, “Then you will call, and Hashem will answer;[20] you will cry out, and He will respond... (Yeshayahu 58.9) (Yevamos 62b)

Women too

While this chapter speaks to men, most of what it says applies equally to women. For the woman who builds up her husband, who gives him love, esteem and a sense of worth, enjoys a wondrous life. With her input, her support, she builds a grand palace of a home; as the verse teaches:

“The wisdom of the woman builds her home.” (Mishle 14.1)

Also, she wins the trust of her husband, which brings still more riches into their home:

“When her husband trusts her with his heart, [their home] lacks no spoils.”[21] (Mishle 31.11)


[1] His wife – While this chapter specifically addresses men, its lesson applies equally to women. For the woman who builds up her husband, who gives him love, esteem and a sense of worth, enjoys a wondrous life. With her input, her support, he builds her a grand castle; as the prophet teaches: “When her husband trusts her with his heart, [their home] will lack no spoils.” (Mishle 31.11). Also: “The wisdom of women builds its home.” (ibid. 14.1)

[2] Without joy – Even if a person lives with every luxury, he will not enjoy it unless he has a companion to share it with him. And who is the companion that best matches him? Who is one that may save him from his loneliness? – Only his wife.

[3] Without blessing – Hashem sends a man wealth and other heavenly blessings, through his wife.

[4] Without goodness – She fires him to reach for and achieve great goals. It is through her, that he finds success. It is through her, that his life over­flows with goodness. (R. David Carno)

[5] Without Torah – Only one who learns to be truly sensitive to another, can be sensitive to the subtleties and nuances the Torah contains.

[6] Without a wall – Once a person lives without joy, blessing, goodness and Torah, he is vulnerable to the many negative, evil forces that blow through his world.

[7] Without peace – The man who lives alone may imagine that he can satisfy his every need. This however, is a mistake. As much as he acquires, he will never acquire serenity; as the verse teaches, “There is no peace, says Hashem, for the selfish-wicked.” (Yeshayahu 48.22)

[8] He is no man – A man only realizes his strength and potential if he first unites himself in marriage with a woman.

[9] On her account – When Avram went down to Egypt, he asked his wife, Sara, to say that she was his sister. Pharaoh, thinking he could marry her, then gave great expensive gifts to Avram; as the verse states, “and he benefited Avram for her sake.” (Breishis 12.16)

This our Rabbis tell us, is not an incidental detail of the story; rather it teaches that the wealth a man receives, comes to him through his wife.

[10] Clothe and acquire a home according to what he can afford – so that he does not suffer from embarrassment.

[11] They depend on him – As he cares for those who depend on him, so will Hashem, on Whom he depends, care for him.

[12] She doesn’t know him – This is the difference between a wife and a prostitute. If a man has a wife, she stands by him through his difficulties. If however, he marries a prostitute, once problems arise, she deserts him.

Similarly, when a person lives the right type of life – when he has the correct value-system and chooses his friends accordingly – then no problem can destroy him. While he may suffer difficulties, he maintains his life-style and his relations with others. However, when he lives with improper values, when he replaces morality with lustful satisfactions, he too is a ‘prostitute.’ Like the woman who exploits her husband, so a person who lives only for pleasure, perverts himself. Moreover, he gambles away life’s every goodness. For if he loses his material wealth, he has nothing to fall back on.

[13] One who is cursed – “Can I help it if she curses me?” a husband may ask. The answer is definitely, yes. One person will only curse another is he feels that the other is not fulfilling his duties, he is not doing that which he should be doing.

And if the husband asks, “Is it so terrible that she curses me?” The answer again, is yes. No person can afford to have others curse him, especially his spouse. For a curse contains a terrible power, and may cause a person much evil. Even when others do not curse him openly, but only in their hearts, this too exacts its price. Thus he must be careful not to arouse the resentment of others.

[14] Where he can afford to buy it – If a woman feels her husband could be buying her fine clothes and adornments and is not, she may just curse him. Even if she only curses him in her heart, a curse is still a curse. Therefore, he must take care either to buy her pretty items, or alterna­tively, explain to her that he really wants her to have jewelry, but cannot afford this right now. If he shows her his sincerity, this itself honors her, and brings him prosperity.

[15] For her money – This speaks of a lowly woman, one whom such a man should never marry. However, one may marry a good woman who is also rich. Still, even when she is worthy, he should not marry her for her money. Such a motive brings only to anguish. (Rashi)

[16] He will squander it all – Hashem does not bless such funds.

[17] He sends his wife to the market with a scale – that she may rent it out for a small fee. This is degrading work that earns her little money. (Rashi) This does not mean however, that she need not work at all. On the contrary, the Torah praises the woman who makes her own goods and sells them. Thus the verse states: “She makes cloth, and sells it” (Mishle 31). (Pesachim 50b)

The rule is that a husband must carefully honor his wife in many different ways. If he needs her to work, he must ensure that she has an honorable craft, and does not engage in anything that cheapens her. Only that which enhances her honor, will bring them blessings.

[18] One who loves his wife as himself – Loving one’s wife, means giving her of his own, making sacrifices for her. Such acts of giving draw him nearer to her, and her to him. Whether she learns of these gifts or not, is unimportant. The main thing is that he gives to her. (See Michtav M’Eliyahu, Kuntras haChesed)

[19] Who guides his children along the straight path – Many people do not discipline their children for fear that it will lead to a lack of harmony and friendship. Here we learn that the exact opposite is true. It is specifically by guiding them properly, that a person enjoys peace in his home.

[20] Hashem will answer – When a person is kind to his relatives and neighbors, when he cares for them as he cares for his own, he merits special heavenly aid.

[21] A woman once went to her lawyer to ask for his help in arranging a divorce.

“Also” she told the lawyer, “I want to take revenge for the many wrongs he inflicted on me.”

“In that case,” answered the lawyer, “go back home, be the best possible wife you can be for the next few months, and then leave him. This surely will give him the biggest slap in the face.”

The woman followed her lawyer’s advice. However, after these months were over, she decided that she wanted to stay married to him after all. (Heard from Mrs. Tova Vodislovski)

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