22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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HomeFamily & Daily LifeMarital HarmonyThe Big Obstacle - Part 3
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The Big Obstacle - Part 3    

The Big Obstacle - Part 3

Does a spark of inspiration justify a husband’s animosity toward his wife? The true light of Torah doesn’t turn a person into a heartless ingrate.


One Sided Teshuva, Part 3
There are no mistakes
There are no mistakes or coincidences in a man’s life. Everything is under Hashem’s exact providence, and He does everything for man’s good. In this case, Hashem knew full well that this student’s motivation was very low, so He gave him many obstacles to stimulate true spiritual growth.
All he had to do was try a bit harder each time while praying for strength and inspiration. As such, he would have come closer to Hashem. At every level, he would have yearned and prayed to take another step forward, and so he would have progressed. But he stubbornly insisted that he didn’t want any obstacles, so Hashem gave him what he wanted. And as soon as the obstacles were gone, so was his motivation and inspiration.
Here’s another detail of providence: Hashem knew how low his level of spirituality was, so He gave him his first wife whose spiritual level was even lower than his. In this way, she could look up to him, and he would have had someone else to inspire, which would have helped him grow. But when he stubbornly insisted that she wasn’t good enough, he got a wife whose spiritual level was far higher than his.
She had nothing to look up to him for, and when he felt the great gulf that separated them, he lost all his self confidence. He began to persecute himself, and in the end persecuted her as well, putting her down and preventing her from serving Hashem to protect his shattered ego. He couldn’t stand to see her burning for Hashem, when he could hardly get himself out of bed. The wheel turned full circle – now he was the one trying to prevent his spouse from serving Hashem.
Holy Constriction
The young man didn’t understand that the purpose of marriage is having someone who constricts him. This constriction then stimulates his yearning, motivation and prayer. The Zohar teaches that Hashem punished Nadav and Avihu, the son of Aaron the High Priest, because they didn’t want to be constricted, and therefore didn’t marry. They wanted to serve Hashem with no barriers or restrictions. When they attempted to overstep their level, He burnt them alive in front of all Israel. Hashem wants a person’s service within the context of constrictions. Growth means overcoming obstacles by desire, longing and prayer.
The difference between Nadav and Avihu and the student of our story is that the former truly burned for Hashem with all their hearts, so their lack of constriction caused them to burn in their own uncontrolled flame of enthusiasm in sanctification of Hashem’s Holy Name. But, our student didn’t burn for Hashem at all. His only ‘burning’ was to prove himself better than others by finding fault in them. When he was faced with someone who was obviously far superior to himself, he fell into despair.
The Light in the Torah
Had he merited the true light of the Torah, whose “Ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peaceful” (Proverbs 3:17), he would have learned the good character traits of peace, love, humility and concession. He would have valued his first wife who had done him so many kindnesses and brought up his children. He would have waited for her patiently, showered her with love and warmth, supported her, judged her favorably and prayed for her.
Does a spark of inspiration justify a husband’s animosity toward his wife?  The true light of Torah doesn’t turn a person into a heartless ingrate. The first wife didn’t deserve such degrading treatment, especially since she didn’t prevent him from doing anything that he wanted to do. It wasn’t her fault that she wasn’t inspired by him.
Since he only made negative comments to her, belittled and upset her, in the end he made her despise Judaism altogether. He showed her a Torah of darkness, anger, severity and afflictions. Understandably, she didn’t want anything to do with such a “Torah”, which is actually not Torah at all. Not only did he not bring her closer to his twisted path, but he pushed her and his children further away, to the point that they may never be willing to look at or listen to a religious person again.
The young man chose not to listen to the Torah outlook on doing things, so he ended up with nothing. He lost his first wife and children, and succeeded in estranging them entirely from Judaism because of his cruel and arrogant behavior. He also lost his second wife, because she saw through his false façade and couldn’t stomach him.
Unfortunately, some people learn the hard way. Hashem personally guides each individual. If the young man would have been careful to keep the peace, even though it appeared that this would have been at the expense of his ambitions – he would only have gained in the end. He would have achieved his ambitions at the right time and at the right pace, and his wife would also have come close in the end. His entire family could have been saved.
To be continued.

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