It’s true –
the husband is the leader of the home.
true that there are different types of leaders.
wise and beloved kings, such as Dovid HaMelech (King David), Shlomo HaMelech
(King Solomon), and, hopefully soon, the Mashiach.
also despised despots, such as Kim Jong Un, Saddam Hussein, and Stalin.
Both types are
rulers. The subjects of both do their ruler’s will with smiles and alacrity.
There is one
big difference, though.
they give the righteous kings are real. They stem from genuine love, respect,
get smiles and obedience. But those smiles cover over hatred, ridicule, and
despot can bully-rule his subjects’ words and actions, but he can’t control
their inner feelings and thoughts.
To a thug
like Stalin, it didn’t really make a difference. A soulless obeisance was
enough to stroke his crude ego.
But for a
Jewish husband, having a wife who truly loves and respects him versus one who
doesn’t, even if she may ‘act as if’ while secretly she can’t stand him, should
make all the difference in the world.
dichotomy of righteous king – or melech, versus despot – or mosheil,
is a familiar one.
Hashanah, we are called upon to make Hashem our King. On the surface, it seems
absurd. Who are we, as puny human beings, to ‘decide’ whether the Creator and
Master of the entire Universe – including us – is or isn’t king? He’s
all-powerful; obviously, He’s the King whether or not we say so.
is the absolute ruler over all. But until, and unless, we, His subjects,
actually desire that He rule over us, Hashem remains our mosheil
(dictator) and not our melech (king).
Only once we
truly want Him to lead us, when we actually feel it in our hearts and not only
mouth the words, do we ‘make’ Hashem the King.
the question is how do we come to feel it? How do we come to relate to Hashem
as our desired, loved, and admired King, instead of merely a despot/dictator
that we are ‘forced’ to serve and praise?
The answer to
this question of how to ‘make’ Hashem into a King, will also reveal to us how
we can make ourselves into truly admired, desired, and loved kings of our own
kingdoms – our marriages – and not merely tolerated despots.
You might be
thinking, “This is going too far. Look, I might be a nice guy, but I’m not
going to try to compare myself to Hashem.”
Don’t be so
sure. The Torah itself makes this comparison. In many places (Shir HaShirim,
for example) Hashem is compared to a husband, and Klal Yisroel to His wife. The
Torah doesn’t make analogies lightly. If this is the metaphor it has chosen,
then it’s one we can learn and extrapolate from.
even takes things further. The Midrash tells us that just as a man looks toward
Hashem to give him life and provide all of his needs, so does a wife look
toward her husband in that same way.
So, yes, in
your wife’s eyes, you do have a certain ‘leadership’ quality. But whether she views
you scornfully as a powerful despot, or lovingly as a powerful king – is
entirely up to you.
let’s explore what makes the Ultimate King, Hashem, worthy of that title, and
at the same time learn how to emulate Him and become true kings of our home.
difference between a desired king and an endured despot is trust. Once we trust
that Hashem truly cares about us and will provide for our genuine, deeply-felt
needs, we begin to desire His leadership.
Jewish ethical work, Chovos HaLevavos
(Duties of the Heart) lists seven qualities in a being (all of which Hashem
possesses) that leads us to trust him (I paraphrase):
1. Kindness (Harachamim,
Hachemla, v’ha-ahava – the combination of compassion, sympathy, and love) –
We know that he truly wants to treat us well and doesn’t look at it as a
2. Caring (Sh’aino misaleim – doesn’t shirk) – He
doesn’t neglect us. He’s never ‘too busy’ to make our needs a high priority.
3. Power (Chazak, v’loy’nutzach – strong and
determined) – We know he’ll exert himself to the fullest for us and won’t ‘jump
ship’ when the ‘going gets tough’.
(Yodea b’afnei toeles – knows our
needs) – He understands us well enough to give us what we really need, with no
ulterior motives or ‘projections’.
Consistency (Misyacheid b’hashgacha –
always there for us) He continues to give to us at all times; never ‘turns his
back’ on us.
Responsibility (Masoor b’yado – dedicated
and responsible) – He ‘owns’ the responsibility to make sure our needs are met.
He won’t ‘pass the buck’ or play the ‘blame game’.
Unconditional Giving (Tachlis ha-nidivos
v’ha-chesed l’mish’roi lo u’l’mish’ainoroi lo – gives 100% whether we
deserve it or not) – He doesn’t ‘keep score.’ He gives without demanding
When a person
sees and feels that Hashem has all those qualities, it’s only natural for them
to trust Him, love Him, and gladly accept him as their King.
When we emulate
Klal Yisroel’s ‘husband,’ Hashem, in our roles as husbands in our own
marriages, our wives will naturally trust, love, and gladly accept us as her
That is, once
she knows that her husband:
1. Truly wants
to treat her well and he doesn’t look at it as a ‘bother.’
2. That he
doesn’t neglect her; he’s never ‘too busy’ to make her needs a high priority.
3. That he’ll
exert himself to the fullest for her and won’t ‘jump ship’ when the ‘going gets
4. That he
understands her well enough to give her what she really needs, with no ulterior
motives or ‘projections.’
5. That he continues
to give to her at all times; never ‘turns his back’ on her.
6. That he
‘owns’ the responsibility to make sure her needs are met. He won’t ‘pass the
buck’ or play the ‘blame game.’
7. That he
doesn’t ‘keep score.’ He gives without demanding anything back.
like that is royalty in his wife’s eyes, someone she can genuinely love,
respect, and accept upon herself as her king.
marriage, even the best, has their less than perfect moments, when our wives
don’t live up to our hopes or expectations. This is when the ‘king’ of the
marriage can truly reveal his royalty and earn her deep respect and love, or
ch’v’sh fall into the trap of reacting like a despot with all that it
take our cue from the ‘Ultimate Husband and King’ of the Jewish People, Hashem,
and learn from how He reacts when His ‘wife’ falters. It just takes one look at
Hashem’s middos of rachamim as brought in the Chumash (Shemos
34:6-7, see Rashi and Sifsei Chochomim) and in Tanach (Micha 7:18-20, see sefer
Tomer Devorah) to see just how patient, loving, and forgiving a kingly
husband should be.
SECRETS TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE
As good husbands as we might already be, we know we’re
far from perfect. But there was a perfect, prototypical man, made directly by
Hashem – Odom (Adam) HaRishon. His marriage to Chava (Eve), the first and
archetypal woman, is recorded in the Torah in Parshas Bereishis (Genesis) not merely
as history, but to give us a model of what it truly means to be a ‘king’ of a
man, the nature of a woman, and the secrets of a sublime, successful marriage.
Let’s look at a number of these secrets – these ‘Bereishis
(Genesis) Principles’, as we’ll call them (or BP’s for short)
that clearly illustrate the essential characteristics of a man, and how that
knowledge can bring him true peace, happiness, and satisfaction in his
relationship with his wife.
BP# 1: REIGNING BY REMOTE CONTROL
The key to understanding the mystical foundation of
marriage is to realize that a man and his wife, while appearing to be two
separate, independent beings, are in essence a unit – two halves of a whole.
This is hinted to in the in the verse that says:
“…male and female, He created them.” (Ber. 1, 27)
Rashi cites a Midrash that the first human was
originally created as androgynous, being both fully male and female, and at a
later stage was separated into two distinct beings of different genders.
Only afterwards did they reunite as man and wife.
This process, a single being divided into two
seemingly independent halves and then reuniting, was not merely a one-time
Every married couple is actually one soul divided
between two bodies, yet connected at a higher unseen point. That means that a
husband is able to influence his wife not only a conscious level, but even
subconsciously on a deeper spiritual level, which will then show itself in
Understanding how this hidden spiritual influence
works and accessing its power is a key to a happy and successful marriage. Our
second ‘Bereishis Principle’ shows us how…
BP# 2: IT’S ALL IN YOUR HANDS
The real-time hidden soul connection between a man and
his wife is hinted to in the passuk: “And Hashem, G-d, said; ‘It is not
good for man to be alone; I will make for him an Ezer K’negdo.’” (Ber.
The words, ‘Ezer K’negdo’ can be translated as
a ‘confronting supporter’.
Rashi, citing a Gemara on the passuk (Yevamos
63a), explains this mysterious term: “If the man is worthy, she will be his
supporter; if he’s unworthy, she will confrontationally battle against him.”
Therefore, we see that the way a wife treats her
husband is actually a subconscious reaction to and function of his worthiness.
When the Torah refers to worthiness, it obviously means
spiritual worthiness. If a man chooses to behave sincerely in a spiritually
worthy way as defined by the Torah – behaving as a ‘king’ – his wife will be
his pleasant and admiring follower, his ‘supporter.’ Conversely, if he chooses
to behave unworthily, as a ‘despot’, she will become confrontational,
rebellious, and put him down.
It’s important to note that this dynamic takes effect
subconsciously on the spiritual plane. The wife needn’t witness or be
consciously aware of her husband’s worthy or unworthy behavior, and she herself
is often unaware what’s influencing her to adopt one mood or the other.
Therefore, if the husband wants to change the dynamic for the better, he
needn’t (nor will it help to) criticize, complain, or retaliate, but rather
simply increase his own spiritual worthiness.
So we see that the tone of the relationship is
entirely in the husband’s hands. He truly is its ruler in the deepest spiritual
sense. This is tremendously empowering – and it’s also a tremendous
But how can we say that this awesome spiritual
power/responsibility is really in the husband’s hands? Our third ‘Bereishis
Principle’ will make it clear…
BP#3: RULING HER EMOTIONS
After the misdeed with the Tree of Knowledge, Hashem
told Chava that from then on: “… to your husband will be your yearning and he
will rule you.” (Ber. 3:16)
This concept of ‘ruling’ applies on a deeper level to
ruling a wife’s emotions and self-esteem. An essential part of a man’s
spiritual worthiness or the opposite is measured by how he treats his wife.
The Torah places supreme priority on interpersonal
relations, and the closer the relationship is the greater its spiritual importance.
As we see, a husband is his wife’s ‘yearning.’ She subconsciously craves to be
beloved and esteemed in his eyes.
If he adopts the spiritually worthy path of treating
her that way – a ‘king’ who treats her like a ‘queen’ – she will be happy and
content, and therefore respond as a ‘supporter.’ If he fails to do so, but
merely acts like a ‘despot’ toward a ‘servant’, his spiritual unworthiness will
earn him a disrespectful ‘combatant’ (while she may sometimes be too afraid or
polite to show it, she can’t choose not to feel it – it’s a
spiritual rule, beyond her bechirah).
Even if how a husband treats his wife determines his
spiritual worthiness and the dynamic of his marriage, how can we know how to
give her what she needs? ‘Bereishis Principle’ number four tells us how…
BP#4: BEING A REAL MAN
Later in the Torah Portion, we’re told: “And Adom knew
Chava his wife, and she conceived and gave birth…” (Ber. 4:1)
The procreation process is based upon a man giving his
portion of the potential child to the woman, who in turn receives it. There’s a
basic axiom in penimius HaTorah (Inner,
mystical Torah teachings) that the physical world and all of its processes
reflects a spiritual counterpart.
So if on the physical plane, in man’s defining interaction
with his wife, he gives and she receives, this implies that the same dynamic is
meant to exist in the higher emotional and spiritual realms.
When a husband focuses on unconditionally giving to
his wife – physically, emotionally, and financially – he’s in line with his male ‘kingly’ spiritual
essence and is thus ‘worthy.’ But if he’s focused on what she is or isn’t
giving to him on any of these levels, he’s acting as a ‘despot’ and has effectively
usurped a female spiritual role, which is unworthy of a man – and certainly of
Maybe it’s a man’s spiritual role to give. But what type
of giving does this mean? Our next ‘Bereishis Principle’ gives us the key…
BP#5: KEEPING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
What is a man’s most important relationship? Where
should his primary loyalty lie?
The Torah answers this: “…A man shall leave his father
and his mother, and unite with his wife as one…” (Ber. 2:24)
Kibud av v’eim,
honoring and being close to one’s parents, is a very big mitzvah. Yet the Torah
hints to us that a man’s relationship with his wife takes precedence even to
When a man relates to and treats his wife as his
queen, the most important person in his life, bar none – even his parents,
children, or employer – he gives her an enormous gift, fulfills her
subconscious yearning to be cherished by him above all others, and his
worthiness grows. If he fails to do this, even if he gives her money or other
material things, his spiritual unworthiness will produce its predictable
All of this may be great, but what if she messes up?
Isn’t it our responsibility to set her straight? Our final, and perhaps most
important ‘Bereishis Principle’ gives the answer.
BP#6: DAMAGE CONTROL
There was never a bigger mistake in the history of the
world than the one Chava made at the dawn of creation, persuading Adam to eat
the forbidden fruit from the Eitz HaDaas. Every pain and sorrow suffered in the
world since then was rooted in this humongous cosmic mess-up.
If ever a husband had the right to let his wife have
it, it was Odom after this.
The Torah recounts his choice words about her right
after G-d had cursed him with a life of hard work and then death. He called
“…the mother of all life.” (Ber. 3:20)
He praised her! Although her blunder had caused all
death and suffering, including, eventually, their own, he spoke nicely to her
and tried to make her feel good!
Nothing a man’s wife could possibly do or say could reach
even the toenail of such an error. And there’s nothing that can ever
spiritually justify a man criticizing his wife in the least. As we said, they
are two halves of one soul and he, the husband is the ‘king’ who can control
her feelings and actions without even saying a word. She’s his Ezer K’negdo
who mirrors him, rising or falling in her madreiga (spiritual level) and
feelings about him according to his spiritual worthiness. So if he wants her to
improve, and to truly love and respect him (and not just put on an act) there’s
only one surefire, simple way to make it happen.
He should work on himself!