V'etchanan 5775

July 27, 2015

6 min read


V'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 )

GOOD MORNING!  The story is told of lunch time at a construction site. A new worker opens up his lunch pail and says, "Yuck. A salami sandwich. I hate salami!" The second day at lunch time, the new worker again opens up his lunch pail and again says, "Yuck. A salami sandwich. I hate salami!" When he finds a salami sandwich the third day, one of his co-workers says, "Buddy, why don't you just tell your wife that you hate salami and ask her to make something else?" The new worker replied, "I would, but I make my own lunch."

Many of us "make our own lunch" and then complain about it. "Bad" marriages are often an example of this phenomenon. There is an old adage "A happy wife is a happy life," yet how many husbands yell and scream at their wives? (Yes, there are wives who yell and scream at their husbands, but it's hard to rhyme "A happy husband is a happy ..." I guess I could have written, "A happy spouse is a happy house.") So, what do these yellers expect? That their spouses will say, "Gee. I never thought of that before. I was mistaken. Thanks for showing me my error and the correct path!" Only thing is ... it doesn't happen that way.

The Torah teaches that marriage completes a person. Our spouse is our other half. Therefore, it makes sense not to "shoot yourself in the foot" -- especially since it's your own foot. Both parties in a marriage have responsibilities. When each person focuses on his responsibilities there is happiness in a marriage. When the husband or wife focuses on how the spouse isn't fulfilling his/her responsibilities there is trouble.

Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the founder and head of Aish HaTorah, always taught his students that one of the secrets to marital harmony is to give the first 15 minutes when you come home to your spouse. Ask three questions: "What did you do today?" "How are you feeling?" "What are you thinking about?" It will change your marriage!

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, my beloved friend and teacher, writes in his book, Marriage -- A Wise and Sensitive Guide to Making Any Marriage Even Better (with hundreds of real-life stories -- available from your local Jewish bookstore or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242), that the 5 most important words in a marriage are: Don't Cause Pain, Give Pleasure. Keep that in mind constantly before acting or speaking! The following rules are excerpted from a contract a couple agreed upon to improve their relationship:



  1. I agree to greet you enthusiastically every time I walk into the house.
  2. I agree to talk without raising my voice. If I ever do raise my voice, you just need to say, "Please speak in a quieter tone." I agree to accept this without arguing that I am speaking in a quiet tone.
  3. I agree to discuss your thoughts regarding any plans I make that will affect you; and I will not make plans unilaterally.
  4. I agree not to speak with sarcasm.


Bottom line: If you want a happy marriage, then keep your eye on the goal. Ask yourself before doing something or saying something that will affect your spouse and family, "Will this make my marriage better, happier?" If not, then don't do it or don't say it. Success in life takes discipline!


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Torah Portion of the week

Va'etchanan, Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11

Moshe pleads with God to enter the Holy Land, but is turned down. (Remember, God always answers your prayers -- sometimes with a "yes," sometimes with a "no" ... and sometimes with a "not yet".) Moshe commands the Children of Israel not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that God has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind.

The cities of Bezer, Ramot and Golan are designated as Cities of Refuge east of the Jordan river. Accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives. They then await there until tried.

The Ten Commandments are repeated to the whole Jewish people. Moshe then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of God, Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation. A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah (the scroll is the essential part) upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).

Moshe then relays the Almighty's command not to intermarry "for they will lead your children away from Me" (Deut. 7:3-4).

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah records that the Almighty said about the Israelites:

"Who will ensure that the heart that you have now shall will continue to fear Me and to observe all of My commandments all the days, in order to do good for you and your children forever" (Deut. 5:26).

The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 5a) states that Moshe said to the Israelites, "You are ungrateful (because they didn't ask the Almighty to ensure that their hearts continue to fear Him) and the descendants of someone who is ungrateful (Adam complained that the woman the Almighty gave to him caused him to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge).

Tosfos explains that they didn't want to ask the Almighty to give them this elevated heart because they didn't want to feel grateful towards Him. This teaches us two concepts about gratitude: 1) Whenever you complain about what the Almighty has given you -- it shows a lack of gratitude. 2) People will try to avoid feeling grateful. They don't want to be beholden -- they think it lowers their self-esteem.

In relationships -- particularly with our spouse -- we must show gratitude. It not only is an elevated character trait, but it builds a closeness when one recognizes the good one has received.


Candle Lighting Times

July 31
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 7:01
Guatemala 6:14 - Hong Kong 6:46 - Honolulu 6:52
J'Burg 5:22 - London 8:32 - Los Angeles 7:37
Melbourne 5:14 - Mexico City 7:54 - Miami 7:50
New York 7:54 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 8:23

Quote of the Week

The amazing thing about marriage
is not that adults produce children,
but that children produce adults
--  based on quote from Peter De Vries



Happy 60th Anniversary

Alvin Lloyd &
Evelyn Brown


In Memory of

Albert Bell Finer

--  his loving family


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