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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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Married? Still Single? Divorced? This is for You!

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Our Sages tell us that HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One Blessed Be He, weeps when a Jewish home is torn apart by of divorce. Unfortunately, He must be crying quite a lot these days, judging from the vast number of divorcees you discover on the pages of Facebook. Just as every Jewish wedding adds another stone to the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, every divorce keeps it in ruins. Since the Fast of Tammuz is almost upon us, marking the beginning of the Three Weeks leading to Tisha B’Av, when we mourn over the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Holy Temple, I thought it appropriate to say a few things about marriage.

Thanks to the good graces of God, a lot of hard work, and lowering my head whenever my wife is upset with me, I have been married nearly thirty years now to the same wonderful, emotional, sensitive, and sometimes stubborn, irrational, and tempestuous woman that I married. In the course of those three decades, we have seen our share of couple’s therapists, and my wife has studied the subject enough to have become a practicing marriage counselor and coach herself. For my small part, I have helped dozens of couples deal with their marital problems through my website, www.jewishsexuality.com. And now, thank God, my wife and I are beginning to counsel the oldest of our seven children who was recently wed.

Yes, marriage is not easy. Yes, it is a challenge as demanding as climbing Mount Everest. Yes, you may have to sacrifice some of your toes in the effort to reach the incomparable peace and stillness you discover at the peak of the climb. But, it’s the best blessing there is, especially when you are fortunate enough to be raising a family in the Land of Israel.

One thing I have learned to avoid, as best as I can, is anger. The holy Kabbalist, the Arizal, teaches that anger is the worst of all the bad character traits. He explains that while every bad character trait and transgression blemish a part of one’s spiritual blueprint, and even physical anatomy, the blemish can be repaired by sincere tshuva and atonement. In contrast, when a person becomes angry, his Divine Soul flees from him, and he receives a lesser animal soul in its place. Ever notice how people look like beasts when they get angry? Their human character seems to leave their faces, and they look like wild animals. The reason is because their Divine Soul has fled, and the work of restoring it to its place, the Arizal writes, can take years and years of penitence.

In a marriage, if either the wife or husband gets angry, and the other responds with anger in return, then the heavyweight prizefight begins. Our Sages teach us that the Hebrew words for man and woman, איש andאשה   have the letters alef, shin, yud, and hai. But when there is anger between them, the yud and hai flee, letters which stand for the Name of God, symbolizing the loss of the Presence of God in the home. Now, only the letters alef and shin remain, אש meaning fire. And how many fire engines are needed to put out the flames!

What’s the solution? Very simple. When my wife gets angry, I lower my head and agree that she’s right. Even though I know that she may not be justified about her immediate complaint, I tell myself that I surely did something else that has brought upon her outburst. A woman has radar and senses when she has been slighted or betrayed. At the moment, she may think she is angry because I forgot to buy tomatoes at the supermarket, and how can she make a loving salad for her family without tomatoes? And, yes, what a rotten husband I am, but I know that the tomatoes she is angry about are not the tomatoes you buy in the supermarket, but about the attractive women I glanced at while I was shopping there.

So when my wife throws a punch, I lower my head and duck, knowing that she is right, that I assuredly did something wrong, and that her anger is God’s way of informing me that I have to do tshuva and mend my erring behavior or thoughts. This way, after throwing a few punches and not finding a hittable target, she gets tired and quits. But if I were to hit back with the very first blow, God forbid, it would turn out to be another “Thriller in Manila” with Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier exchanging murderous blows until the final, 15th-round bell.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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6 Responses to “Married? Still Single? Divorced? This is for You!”

  1. Well, Hashem could help us find compatible mates, that way he wouldn’t have to cry on our behalf. Divorces aren’t gotten for fun, but because there is either a grave and insurmountable mismatch, or life circumstances which part people who’d like to stay together, but can’t.

  2. Liad Bar-el says:

    Great post Tzvi and as I read your last sentence “May Hashem have mercy on His People, and return His Divine Presence to Zion with the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, may it be soon” my Shabbat studies/review today came into mind. Exodus 25:8 “Let them make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” From MeAm Lo’Ez Vol 9 pg 26, “G-d literally said that if the Israelites make the Tabernacle, ‘I will dwell inside them.’ Since he was speaking of the Tabernacle, He should have said, ‘I will dwell inside it.’ But this teaches that the main element of the Tabernacle was not the boards and other materials out of which it was built. The main element was the purity of heart on the part of the Israelites who built the Tabernacle. They had to be good, G-d fearing Jews, and spiritual people. Then they would be able to cause the Divine Presence to dwell inside them – literally – since they would be closely attached to G-d.”.

    So, getting back to your article, Tzvi, looking at porn and/or sinning in other ways will drive away the Divine Presence from the individual and thus keep the Tabernacle destroyed. The commandments were given to us so as to be kept in Israel; so, by you coming to Israel, which is a big mitzvah, helps rebuild the Beit HaMikdash. May you all come to Israel soon.

  3. Tzvi Fishman says:

    Dear Yehuda, I am Tzvi’s wife. I don’t have a facebook account so I am using his. Let me assure you that my husband is a real sweetheart, as loving and considerate as could be, always trying to help others, always filling our house with guests and doing everything he can to bring people closer to Israel and Torah. I am aware that sometimes he says controversial things that can upset people, and I tell him to soften his tone, but he believes that some people are so far away they have to be shaken up in order to break through their walls. He’s a wonderful guy! You just have to learn to appreciate his sense of humor, that’s all.

  4. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Tzvi Fishman: “I have been married nearly thirty years now to the same wonderful, emotional, sensitive, and sometimes stubborn, irrational, and tempestuous woman. My wife has studied the subject enough to have become a practicing marriage counselor and coach herself. A woman has radar and senses when she has been slighted or betrayed.”.

    Warning! Radar Overload! CRASH! BANG! Mrs. Fishman, get your husband to retract these words from the blog. In all of the years that Tzvi has been posting, we have not heard one word from you; so, you must be a woman with a tolerance and patience of steel. You should be awarded the prize that Tzvi got for his book for without you it would not have happened. Kol HaKavod!

  5. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Thank you Tzvi Fishman's wife. Is your name Sara? Shavuah Tov!

  6. Joey Aranov says:

    this is a nice and sweet article, thank you.

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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