22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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The True Test of Character - Part 2    

The True Test of Character - Part 2

People will do anything for honor and prestige. But far away from the camera's eye is where the real test…


People will do anything for honor and prestige. But far away from the camera's eye is where the real test is, L'shem shamayim, for the sake of doing Hashem's will, and not with any expectation of reward.
The great Chazon Ish, of Blessed and Saintly memory, once gave a young man a highly educational lesson in life. The young man was known as a baal chessed, very kind; he readily did favors for everyone, except his own wife. Whenever she needed him, he'd be off helping someone else. The Chazon Ish played a trick on him. He told him that he needed someone to help a woman with eight children whose back was breaking under the strain; she simply couldn't do everything herself! To please the Chazon Ish, the young man was more than willing. The Chazon Ish took a piece of paper and wrote down the address of the distressed and overworked mother. The young man almost fainted when he read the note. It was his own address!
The real "You" is the way you treat your wife. At home, people take off their Purim costumes. Sometimes a person is Mordechai the Tzaddik at work or at the Yeshiva, but at home he's the evil Amalek's grandson, Haman. The test of patience is at home. The test of a clean tongue is at home. The test of a person's personality and spiritual level is at home.
Rav Shalom Arush always says that the ABC of observing the Torah is to respect one's wife. The basic test of gratitude is gratitude to one's wife. I frequently hear husbands complain about their wives. They say she is short-tempered, nervous, unloving, or that she needs to change. These husbands don't have a cue as to what's flying, to what marriage is all about, or to what Hashem wants from them. Here's why.
The truest, most accurate test of a person is in the home. Everyone wants to succeed on the outside because of some vested interest. Money, success or prestige gives people the incentive to succeed. At home, there's no mask. A husband who mistreats his wife needs to make immediate teshuva (repent), because peace in the home is the test from Hashem. Without peace in the home, one is far away from Torah and light years away from Hashem. Even if he has a beard, sidecurls and wears a long, black coat, he is far from Torah, from teshuva and from humility, if he doesn't have peace in the home. The test of Torah is peace. One with real Torah learning seeks peace, for it says that the Torah is a tree of life and all its paths lead to peace. A humble person is a person who doesn't get angry, who shows gratitude and lives peacefully with his wife. Such a person is a true vessel of Torah. The haughty and the arrogant, those who lose their temper and make their wives miserable at home, are far from teshuva and far from emuna (faith).
A man shows his real face at home. Some men are angels on the outside, but at home they become angels of death.   They kill their wife’s spirit, slowly, with insult and ingratitude. The truest test of one’s faith is at home, even more with one's wife than with one’s children.
There is an old Yiddish saying, The hat burns on a thief's head. In other words, a person tends to regard others as he regards himself. If he is a crook, he thinks that everyone is dishonest. This principle holds true between one man and another man, but not necessarily for women. Some husbands don't realize that their wives have their own way of looking at the world. Many husbands miss the boat of shalom bayit, peace in the home, because they look at their wives in the same way they look at themselves. They expect their wife’s mind to work the same way as their mind does. They think what's logical to them is logical to their wife. They fail to consider the special individual nature and character of women in general and of their wives in particular. That's where they make a tragic mistake - they never bother to learn what makes their wife tick.
Rabbi Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, of Blessed Memory, taught us that a woman is motivated by emotion, while a man is motivated by logic. Lets take an example, buying a shirt. For a man, it's no big deal, it takes three minutes. A woman is excited; for her, the purchase of a blouse is a major event that determines how she will appear. Purchasing a blouse is a serious expression of her personality. A husband has difficulty in understanding why it takes her forty-five minutes to choose a simple blouse. For her, the purchase of a new garment is a milestone event. The same is true of changing the furniture arrangement in the living room or hanging a picture on the wall. Men also fail to understand how different a woman's concept of time is from their concept of time. A husband becomes short-tempered when a woman is late. But that's how Hashem created her. When dressing for a wedding or an evening out, take into account that she needs forty-five more minutes than you do.
A man needs to understand his wife is not his learning partner or tennis buddy. He needs to understand her and appreciate her special needs. One husband told me he couldn’t understand how it takes his wife a whole month to clean for Passover; he could do it in two hours. Such a husband has no idea how his wife looks at the world. He sees four walls, a floor and a ceiling, and she sees an entire palace with thousands of tiny details that need attention. If he saw the world through her eyes, it would probably take him a year to prepare for Passover.
As we have said, the first big problem is that a husband fails to understand the nature of women in general, and his wife’s nature in particular. The second big problem is that he fails to empathize with her; he doesn't try to see the world as she sees it. For true peace at home, a husband must shape and train himself to understand her and feel what she feels. A husband's love and empathy is what a wife dreams of.
To be continued.

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