Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Good wife views her husband as her master - Menoras HaMe'or

I am not posting these as extreme curiosities - they are normative descriptions in the rabbinic literature - including contempory authorities. If anyone has sources that say otherwise - please let me know.

Menoras Hame’or(2:176): [© Translation by Daniel Eidensohn] Even though the woman is the mate of the man – she should not view her husband as an equal but rather as her master as it says in Tehilim (45:12), Because he is your master and you should bow down to him. And the woman should love her husband and he rules over her as it says (Bereishis 3:16), And your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you. And if you view him as your master he will love you and you will be in his eyes as a sister as we see that Sarah refered to Avraham as master (Bereishis 18:12) and if you minimize talking to what is necessary then you will be even more beloved to your husband. And if you speak before him with grace and humility and if your eyes are attentive to him in the manner that a servant is attentive to her mistress – then you will be greatly valued and honored in his eyes. It relates in a Medrash that a certain Sage told his daughter when she was being taken her husband’s house, “My daughter, stand before him as you would before the king and serve him. And if you should act as a mother to him, he will be to you as a servant and will honor you as a privileged lady. However if you dominate him, he will be forced to act as your master and then you will be degraded in his eyes like a common servant. Embellish and praise him amongst his friends. And if guests come to him, whether relatives or friends – welcome them graciously and offer them generously in order to honor you husband in their eyes. Take good care of his house and all that he has and in this way you will find favor in his eyes and you will be the crown of your husband. Thus it says in Misheli(12:4), A virtuous wife is a crown to her husband.

Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 15:20): And thus our Sages have commanded that the woman honor her husband to an extreme degree and the fear of him should be on her and she should do all her deeds according to what he says and he should be in her eyes as a ruler or king. She should orient her activities according to that which he desires and stay away from that which he hates. This is the manner of the daughters of Israel and the children of Israel who are holy and pure in their marriages. In this way the community will be pleasant and praiseworthy.


  1. You see, this is a question of point of view. As long as it is reciprocal, and each spouse views the other as their master, that is beautiful and can make a marriage work.

    The problem is: He should never try to enforce his role as a master, when it is not offered to him. That's the beginning of the end.

    The courtesey of kings is to take what is offered to them, i.e. he should not interpret his role of master as being entitled to thwart her plans (she prepares something, and then he says he does not want to do it this way, etc).

    As long as it is totally mutual, they should give each other a maximum of respect. But neither should DEMAND this from the spouse.

    1. That's an interesting view, but it is precisely not what the Sefer is saying.

    2. what do you think it is saying?

  2. Rabbi Miller said that husband wife are like President and vice president with the man being the president. However, the woman's role is very significant.

    I was at shiur by Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l where the halacha of whether a woman needs to do heseiba nowadays was raised and he said at one time women were close to slaves but today it is different. I asked him which way was better. He said neither was definitively better it just depended on the norms of society as long as there was ahava, achva, sholom vereyus.

  3. Well the Zohar and apparently Rebbe Nachaman(about two thirds of the way through) say that a king is only a king so long as his subjects give him reshut to rule him.

  4. bottom line - I can provide many citations saying the same thing - husband is king wife is totally subordinate to him. Are there any other types of descriptions in the rabbinic literature

    1. Doesn't the Torah itself start off at the very Beginning with this assumption (right after chava's sin especially)?

    2. Important point. There in fact is a major dispute whether this attitude is doreissa - as a curse for the original sin or whether it is a rabbinic decree.Rambam clearly says it is rabbinic

    3. I understood "el ishech tehi tshukatech we hu imshol bach" to be mainly emotional: You will be so much in love with him that he can do whatever he wants and you will still yearn him.

      So this would mean that the yearning causes the subserviance. And this is true for any human relation: the one who is more invested will do more for the other.

      If we take your approach of absolute dominance to be still valid in our day and age - very much as it still is in many muslim cultures - I fear that people will leave in droves... Just like catholics ignore the prohibition of divorce and remarriage.

    4. DT - I'm not sure the rabbinic literature always describes the wife as totally subservient to her husband.

      What about Baba Metzia 59b - "the husband should listen to his wife on milei d'alma (material matters)"?

    5. She is at most a source of sound advice - he has no obligation to obey her. In contrast we have the clear statement - There is no proper woman except one who does the will of her husband. There is no comparable statement for a husband to obey his wife.

      Bava Metzia (59a): Rav said that whoever follows his wife’s advice will go to Hell as we learn from Achav who followed his wife Isabel’s advice (Melachim 1 21:25). R’ Papa objected to Abaye by noting there is a folk expression, “If you have a short wife bend down to hear her whisper?” That is not a contradiction; it is only problematic to listen to a wife’s advice in matters of religion while it is desirable to listen to her in worldly matters.

      Meiri (Bava Metzia 59a): A person should always be careful not to embarrass his wife because she readily cries and therefore he will be punished for distressing her. The gemora states that all the heavenly gates are locked except for the Gate of Distress. From this they say that if a man wants to have domestic tranquility - all that he does with his possession and feeding his family and providing them with clothing - it should be done according to advice of his wife. A person should also be careful with household expenditures because disputes usually involve financial issues…

    6. DT, it seems the confusion here derives from the terms "totally subordinate to him", or the "will of the husband". This is an over-simplification of a complex dynamic. Its more accurate to summarize it as:

      - The husband is not an all powerful king who can ignore halacha and do whatever he pleases. The "will of the husband" should be to always observe all halachos, especially ben adam l'chavero in his interactions with his wife.
      - On a worldly matter not dictated by halacha, the husband is theoretically the king, but practically for shalom bayis reasons he should defer to the wife.
      - On spiritual matters, the wife must be totally subordinate to the husband, as long as the husband is operating within normative halacha.

    7. there is no confusion. There is a clear unambiguous uniform attitude expressed in the literature regarding the wife's need to obey her husband [obviously not if he is telling her to sin] and the requirement that she view her husband and lord and master.

      Relative to the wife the husband is the king. The fact that the modern women will not accept such a concept is true - but that doesn't change the halachic idea and what true Jewish values are.

      In fact based on Kiddushin 30b the wife is exempt from honoring her father and fearing him - unless her husband permits her! She is also exempt from time bound mitzvos because she is subordinate to her husband and family responsibilities. Kiddushin 35

      My point is that this goes against what is normative practice today and that it goes against what most people assume are the Jewish concept of marriage. I am waiting for someone to show texts that support the current situation.

    8. DT, yes the rabbanim are saying that the wife "views" her husband as lord and master. But a Jewish husband is not lord and master over his wife in the same sense as the gentile master of a slave in the 19th century South. The husband must obey ben adam l'chavero, among other restrictions, and the wife has specific rights under halacha.

      I do agree that a strong current of feminism has crept into the Orthodox Jewish community. The concept of husband as king has been greatly undermined in modern times.

    9. ok so we are close to agreement.

      The question come down to - 1) Are women different today - nashim chashuvos - and therefore the marriage relationship is different and must be different to achieve Torah values or 2) are women so imbued with feminism and western values they simply will not listen and therefore it is better not to have a confrontation over these issues- even though they are wrong?

    10. Unfortunately many confrontations and divorces are already occurring due to both the influence of Western feminist values and the failure of rabbinic leadership to thoroughly teach these issues. Rabbinic "leadership" is more concerned now with banning this Internet discussion we're now having.

      We should certainly aggressively teach the authentic concepts of Jewish marriage and divorce, but we must try to avoid causing confrontations which lead to divorce.

      Thank you for discussing these authentic concepts on your blog. Please keep reviewing these issues, they're extremely important to the survival of the Jewish family.

    11. The vast majority of these statements that husbands are masters over women are aggadic, not halachic statements. As shown in sources you cited in the link I provided below, for aggadic statements we need not accept them if they don't seem "correct and nice."

      Sefer HaEshkol: "even those Agada and Medrash which are found in the Talmud if they make no sense or are erroneous are not to be relied upon"; "In contrast that which is not in the Talmud, we have no need to attempt to correct them and make sense out of them. We merely should examine them as to whether they are correct and nice. If they are, we teach them. If they are not, we pay no attention to them."

      Today, these statements about men being master don't make sense, so we don't rely upon them. It is just like the seforim that say, although in the past harsh physical discipline worked with children, in current times this only causes the children to rebel, so we don't do it anymore.

      Moreover, there is a Torah basis for the idea that the roles of men and women will change over time. See this quote from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, particularly the quote from Yirmiyahu:

      "[In our prayers,] we petition G-d that He conduct Himself with the Congregation of Israel - whom He calls "My wife" - in a manner wherein He fulfills their hearts' desires for the good. It is also well known that our manner of service below [isarusa d'letata] arouses a reciprocal response from above [isarusa dile'eila].

      Thus, it is incumbent for a husband to conduct himself in a like manner with regard to his wife. For as the Gemara states [with regard to the proper conduct and feeling towards one's wife]:[2] "... [He loves his wife as himself and] honors her more than himself."

      This is especially so, when one ponders that we presently find ourselves at the conclusion of galus and we are close to the imminent Redemption, about which time it is written,[3] "A woman shall encompass a man.""

  5. מנחת יצחק (ד:פג.ד): אמנם בכל זה, מה דנוגע לחומרות הבעל, י"ל, דכ"ז אם הבעל אינו מקפיד, על מה שהיא אינה נזהרת בכל אלו, אבל אם הוא מקפיד, הרי אמרו אין לך כשירה בנשים, אלא שעושה רצון בעלה, (הגמי"י פט"ו מה' אישות ה"כ), בשם תנא דבי אליהו, והובא ברמ"א (א"ע סוס"י ס"ט), וכן בש"ס (קידושין ל"א ע"א), שאתה ואמך, חייבים בכבוד אביך עיין שם, ואמרו (מגילה י"ג ע"ב), מאי האי דשדיר לן, להיות כל איש שורר בביתו, פשיטא אפילו קרחא בביתי' פרשדכא ליהוי, ופירש"י, פשיטא שאף הגרדן שורר בביתו, פרשדכא, פקיד ונגיד עיין שם, ועפ"י זה, המה דברי הרמב"ם שם (פט"ו מה' אישות ה"כ), וז"ל, וכן צוו על האשה, שתהי' מכבדת את בעלה ביותר מדאי, ויהי' לו עלי' מורא, ותעשה כל מעשי' על פיו, ויהי' בעיני' כמו שר או מלך, מהלכת בתאות לבו, ומרחקת כל מה שישנא, וזה דרך בנות ישראל ובני ישראל הקדושים והטהורים בזיווגן, ובדרכים אלו יהי' ישובן נאה ומשובח עכ"ל.

  6. While there may be many statements of this kind in rabbinic literature (and I too would be interested in seeing contrary or different statements), this does not mean that we have to accept them as true and binding. As the blog owner posted on an email list several years ago, agadic statements do not need to be accepted (even from the Talmud) if we don't find that they make sense:

    1. this rule regarding agada - can not conceivably be applied to principles which were universally followed for thousands of years. There is absolutely no way that the Lubavither Rebbe or any other talmid chachom would make such an assertion.

      The fact that they don't talk it about simply means that no one will listen.

    2. Here's an alternative view of the marriage relationship from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein:

    3. Rav Lichtenstein says that the husband is not doing anything wrong if he wants consensus etc. Clearly he doesn't need to agree. So this clearly confirms my position. The husband is the ruler and he has the option of dictatorship or being an enlightened despot - his wife has not rights to chose unless her husband allows it.

      It is like the tired joke, The husband proclaims to his friends "I know that I am the boss of the family - because my wife told me that I am." The Jewish joke would be the wife say, "I know that I am the boss of the family because my husband told me that I am."

    4. Rav Lichtenstein says that, but he says more than that. He also says 1) consensus is fairer and wiser, 2) that rabbinic statements on marriage are a matter of personal preference (he says the "decision of individual couples," not the *husband's* personal preference), 3) "there is room for flexibility and mutual choice" and 4) there are no absolute marital models in Chazal.

      In addition, like I said above, what about the seforim that say, although in the past harsh physical discipline worked with children, in current times this only causes the children to rebel, so we don't do it anymore? Perhaps this is true for our times with marriage, and for this reason no man should insist that he is the master and should be obeyed. It is like the rule in Shulchan Aruch EH 73:1 about women not going out of the house very much. No one follows this now -- society has changed so much, it's no longer applicable. (Anyway, that halacha was derived from midrash, not the Talmud.)

    5. the simple answer is that you are wrong. You are reading too much into Rav Lichtenstein.

      You can't simply announce that something which has been accepted as halacha for thousands of years is tossed out because you claim it is from midrash and not talmud. In addtion many halachos use medrash as asmachta - but are not derived from them.

    6. If you read the Lichtenstein page again (the whole page, and the page before it), you'll see that I was simply paraphrasing (or directly quoting) what he said.

      I defer to your knowledge regarding the midrash/talmud issue. I just think it's interesting that no one follows that halacha and no one complains about it. In fact it is common for charedi women to go to work daily to support their full-time learning husbands, the opposite of both the contractual obligation of the ketubah and Shulchan Aruch EH 73:1, but this practice is widely accepted.

    7. We both are in agreement about what is - my question is what is the rational to justify. Rav Lichtenstein indicates that the husband has the optional of choosing. He doesn't say that the wife has the option. So it could simply be that an intelligent husband who wants shalom bayis will chose to avoid dictatorship - but that doesn't change the basic value system.

    8. It could be as you say--to be sure, that's one legitimate view--but 1) Rav Lichtenstein does speak of the "decision of individual couples" and "mutual choice" and 2) suggests that consensus is "fairer and wiser." His views are presented very briefly, but it seems to me that he has a much different position than yours. He says it would be presumptuous to say that there is one Torah marriage model, and suggests that a consensus style is better. So there are more than one valid value systems, and he is advocating for an alternative one. Under his view, it would seem that a woman does not necessarily have an absolute right to a consensus-type relationship (he doesn't say one way or the other), but that the proper course for a man to follow is to make the decision mutually about how the type of marital relationship they will have. So it is challenging the traditional views -- what you call the basic value system -- which he views as matters of personal and mutual preference, not a static, eternal statement of values.

  7. The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote a considerable amount regarding marriage and shalom bayis, but I do not think he ever states the view that the man should be the absolute master over the wife. In some cases he requires couples to agree to something before the man can do it:

    "Understandably, it is laudable to order one's life immediately after marriage in a manner that the husband spends (at least) part of the day exclusively in Torah study, inasmuch as the wedding is the inception of an eternal edifice.
    However, it is also self-understood that this limits and curbs [one's ability to earn a livelihood] and slightly reduces the ability to obtain one's material needs.

    As this [reduction] is felt on a daily basis, and conversely, a Jew's life is to be lived - as the verse states "with joy and gladness of heart" and with trust [in G-d], it is necessary that there first be obtained a full-fledged joyous agreement [from both parties] (to beginning [mutual] lives bound up to a life of Torah, a Torah of Life).

    If the two of them will both agree to this, agreeing in the manner described above, then may it be G-d's will that all this transpire in a good and auspicious hour."

    Also, I think it's interesting how the Rebbe drew on sociological conditions in discussing why women's Torah study needs to be enhanced in current times:

    1. so my previous comment. The Chofetz chaim and others also relied on sociological explanations to justify beis yaakov. That in no means that the previous approach has been rendered wrong or rejected.

      We see also with gittin that sociological explanations are used - it still doesn't change the basic halachos that a get must be given freely.

  8. Replies
    1. The Torah Temima I posted recently said the same thing and he was not from a Muslim country and he was in the 20th century.

      Where are the alternative views?

  9. Another interesting alternative view of the marriage relationship from R' Yisroel Susskind. Traditional in some ways, but not others.

    Somewhat similarly, from R' Eliezer Chrysler:

    "The Gemara in Yevamos (63a), commenting on the self-contradicting expression "Eizer ke'Negdo", explains that if a man deserves it, his wife will be an Eizer (a help-mate), if not, she will be ke'Negdo (a hindrance). The Gemara also defines a worthy wife as one who does the will of her husband ('ho'osah retzon ba'alah').

    R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld used to explain the Gemara's latter statement a little differently. He translated it (not as 'one who does the will of her husband', but) as 'one who shapes the will of her husband'. She is a woman who, by virtue of her good deeds and depth of understanding, gently steers him along the path of Torah and Mitzvos. She creates an atmosphere of Yir'as Shamayim in her home, that affects her husband and elevates him to the point where he aims at attaining greater spiritual heights.

    It seems to me that both interpretations are correct, depending on the level of the husband; whether it is he who needs her guidance, or she who will perhaps benefit more from his."

    1. R. Yosef Chayim Sonenfeld used to explain the Gemara's latter statement a little differently. He translated it (not as 'one who does the will of her husband', but) as 'one who shapes the will of her husband'. She is a woman who, by virtue of her good deeds and depth of understanding, gently steers him along the path of Torah and Mitzvos. She creates an atmosphere of Yir'as Shamayim in her home, that affects her husband and elevates him to the point where he aims at attaining greater spiritual heights.
      I don't the above is accurate. There is a huge difference between "creates an atmosphere" and "gently steers him along the path of Torah and mitzvos."

      One of the most destructive factors in shalom bayis that I have observed as a therapist is the believe which is inculcated in young ladies that they are to be the mashgiach of the family and judge whether their husband is frum enough or studying Torah hard enough - and it is her job to "gentle encourage" i.e., nag him until he reforms. As Rav Stermbuch once noted, "No man wants to be married to a mashgiach"

    2. Interesting. Rabbi Dr. Susskind (linked to above) is also a therapist -- I wonder what he would say in response. Rav Shalom Arush, in Garden of Peace, also stresses the importance of spouses not pushing one another in matters of religious observance.

    3. DT, isn't this concept of wife as Mashgiach, ie that she "concept gently steers him along the path of Torah and Mitzvos", directly ignoring Chazal's principle in Baba Metzia 59a (above) "Rav said that whoever follows his wife’s advice will go to Hell"? Didn't Chazal say that the wife's influence should be limited to worldly matters?

    4. It would seem that way
      ספר בניהו בן יהוידע על בבא מציעא דף נט/א
      שם אתתך גוצא גחין ולחוש לה. הא דאומרים לחוש, מפני כי גנאי לאיש שיקח עצה מאשתו בפומבי, לכך אמרו לו לחוש לה בקשת העצה, ואז ודאי גם היא תשיב לך בלחישה, ולכן לא אמרו לו גחין ושמע דבריה, או ושמע עצתה. ואומרם אתתך גוצא נ"ל בס"ד דרך דרש, דידוע הקושיא דמקשים בקראי, דפסוק אחד אומר מצא אשה מצא טוב [משלי י"ט כ"ב], ופסוק אחד אומר ומוצא מר ממות את האשה [קהלת ז' כ"ו], ומתרצים דהאשה צריכה להיות נכנעת לבעלה, שלא תחשוב עצמה שוה אליו במעלה, אלא תחשיב היא חצי בעלה במעלה, דאם תחשוב עצמה בהשוואה עמו, הרי זו מרה כלענה, דלכך הקב"ה הטיל יו"ד באיש, וה"א באשה, שהיא חצי מספר היו"ד, להורות שצריך שתחשוב עצמה חצי בעלה במעלה, אבל אשה רעה שתחשוב עצמה בהשוואה אינה רואה עצמה בשם אשה, אלא האשה בתוספת ה', כדי להשלים חסרונה להיות שוה עם בעלה, שיש לו אות יוד, ושני ההי"ן הם מספר יו"ד, ולזה אמר ומוצא מר ממות את האשה בתוספת ה', שמשוה עצמה עם בעלה, הנה זאת היא מר ממות, אבל על הרואה עצמה בשם אשה, עליה נאמר מצא אשה דייקא מצא טוב. ובזה פרשתי בס"ד מאמר התנא [אבות פ"א] ואל תרבה שיחה עם האשה, דהיינו עם הרואה עצמה בשם האשה, שתשוה עצמה עמך, אל תרבה שיחה לבקש ממנה עיצה במילי דביתא, אלא התרחק ממנה, ולזה אמר אתתך גוצא, שרואה עצמה היא חצי שלך במעלה, ואינה משווה עצמה עמך, זו היא אשה טובה, גחין ולחוש לה לקבל ממנה עיצה, דעליה נאמר מצא אשה מצא טוב:

    5. תלמיד הרשב"א (בשיטת הקדמונים) מסכת בבא מציעא דף נט עמוד א

      אבל במלאכת שמים אסור לו לאדם להלוך בעצת אשתו, לפי שאינן מכירות מעלתו. ועל זה אמרו כל ההולך בעצת אשתו נופל בגיהנם, שכך מצינו באחאב שנאמר בו אשר התמכר לעשות הרע בעיני י"י אשר הסתה אותו אזבל אשתו

    6. Mishna Halachos (6:28): Question: Why did R’ Meir listen to the advice of his wife Beruria and pray that the sinners repent rather than that they die? It says in Bava Metzia (59a) that a man should not listen to his wife in spiritual matters! Answer: I don’t understand what is the question. R’ Meir did not listen to his wife’s advice but rather she presented an explicit verse and he accepted her understanding of the verse. Even in a situation of a student and his teacher, the student needs to mention to this teacher what he thinks it says in the Torah. If she was simply giving advice she would have said that it is prohibited to pray for someone to die. But she asked in a respective manner “Doesn’t it say in the verse…”

  10. DT,

    Are you aware of any sources that discuss whether a husband can discipline his wife with corporal punishment (i.e. hitting) if the wife is disobedient or refuses to do her wifely duties or becomes a moredes? What is the halacha (with sources)?

  11. Bottom line hitting a spouse is grounds for divorce - and there is absolutely no justification for it in modern society. any husband who thinks that hitting is a legitimate means of "training" his wife should be given a dose of his own medicine.

    yes there are sources such as a Rambam - which the Ravad gets very upset about and says he never heard such a thing. Commentaries say that the Rambam is talking about beis din disciplining the wife - not the husband.

    There is the Yam Shel Shlomo to BK 28 where he asserts that you are responsible for the misbhaving of anyone under your control. Which implies that the wife beat a misbehavior husband if she had the abiity.

    As opposed this are many strongly worded teshuvos against those who hit their wives - including some that say that the husband's arm should be amputated as punishment - because only goyim hit their wives.

    I have the sources listed vol II of Child and Domestic Abuse.

    1. Yes, but a husband may follow the Rambam on this. In which case his justified hitting of his wife is per his wife, per the Rambam who he is following, and is no grounds for divorce.

    2. Huh? Please tell me you're being facetious. Rambam also says one should try to deviously kill heretics (by taking away their ladders when they're in a deep hole, for example) but no one holds by that.

    3. who told you that a person has a right to hit his wife - even if that is thre Rambam's view? Go through the literature - wife beating is justification for divorce as well as for going to jail.

  12. Absolutely, one can follow Rambam's shitta. Rambam is an entirely legitimate and valid halachic opinion. Especially for yidden who always follow Rambam, such as the Teimanim.

    1. I really don't understand what silly game you are playing? Could you please cite a single teshuva of contempoary poskim like Rav Yosef or Rav Wosner that says a man can beat his wife? Furthermore it is not clear that the Rambam whether referring to the husband or to beis din. A husband can claim whatever he wants - please cite a beis din who would agree that he has the right. Do you know for a fact that Yeminite rabbonim view wife beating as legitimate? It is clear that an Israeli beis din would not acccept a Yeminite claiming he has the ight to beat his wife. Rav Yosef clearly doesn't approve of a Yeminite man beating his wife

      Bottom line - please put up the relevant teshuvos or I am not posting any more of your nonsense.

  13. Rambam, Laws of Interpersonal Relations, perek 21, halacha 7: "We find that every woman performs five tasks for her husband. She spins, washes his face, hands, and legs, pours his drink, makes the bed, and serves him. There are six tasks some women do and some don't: grind and bake and cook, wash, nurse children, and feed the animals."

    Halacha 10: "Any woman who does not do the tasks which she is obligated to do is forced, even with a stick."

    The Rabad meforesh on this: "I have never heard of hitting a woman with a stick, but one reduces the necessities given to her and her food until she gives in."

  14. 6. Rambam (21:10): If a woman refuses to do any
    obligatory Melachah, we force her, even with a
    i. Rebuttal (Ra'avad): I never heard about hittng
    women with sticks. Rather, he diminishes her
    needs and food until she submits.
    ii. Beis Yosef (EH 80 DH u'Mah she'Chosav Yir'eh):
    The Tur says that the Rambam holds that
    rebellion from Melachah is rebellion. He learns
    from the fact that we force her with sticks. If
    she could say 'do not feed me, and I will not
    work for you', why would we force her? However,
    why didn't the Rambam say that we deduct from
    her Kesuvah? I say that the Rambam does not
    consider her a rebel. He said (12:4) that if
    she says 'do not feed me, and I will not work
    for you', we heed her. In Perek 21, he
    discusses one who wants to be fed without
    working. The Ran explains that since she did
    not pardon food, he must still feed her,
    therefore he can force her to work.
    Alternatively, even when she says 'do not feed
    me, and I will not work for you', this helps
    only for spinning, but not for other Melachos.
    iii. Rosh (5:31): Rav Huna says that refusing to
    work is not rebellion. This is like he said
    above, that a wife can tell her husband 'do not
    feed me, and I will not work for you.' R. Yosi
    b'Ribi Chanina says that it is rebellion. He
    holds like Reish Lakish, who says that a man
    can force his wife to work. If he can force
    her, why is she considered a rebel? Since she
    works only through coercion, she is a rebel.
    (c) Poskim
    1. Shulchan Aruch (EH 80:15): If a wife refuses to do a
    mandatory Melachah, we force her.
    i. Gra (25): We cannot say that we do not force at
    all. We force a woman to nurse. Even if she
    brings in 100 slaves, we force her (for
    idleness ruins people).
    2. Rema: He does not feed her until she does it. Beis
    Din excommunicates her or sells her Kesuvah to hire
    a slave. Some say that Beis Din forces her with
    i. Chelkas Mechokek (26): Beis Din does not
    excommunicate her if he does not feed her, for
    then she may say that she will not work for
    him. Rather, they excommunicate her if he does
    not want to withhold food, e.g. she is nursing
    or for another reason.

  15. D.T. said (way back): "The question come down to - 1) Are women different today - nashim chashuvos - and therefore the marriage relationship is different and must be different to achieve Torah values or 2) are women so imbued with feminism and western values they simply will not listen and therefore it is better not to have a confrontation over these issues- even though they are wrong?"

    ANSWER: Both!

    They're feminist imbued chashuvos. That's why its so hard to educated for a proper Jewish family. Our women our especially talented today in many ways, including their intellect, economic savvy... and sophisticated desires to be Mashgiach on their men. It's the arbuviya the sfarim have predicted for generations.

    Halavay that Beis Din could also be a place for educating us a bit about the IDEAL Jewish home. The men should be reminded that being Masters does not mean Tyrants and the women need to hear about the importance of truly honoring him, even when you think you know better.

    If the authorities were saying it, at times when it counts, the ladies might listen.

    1. Well, for centuries girls & women were denied education - in most societies. So it was easy to argue that they are intellectually inferior, since intellectual prowesses need nurturing.

      After 60 years of co-education, western society has proved that all assumptions about intellectual inferiority in women are wrong.

      Only hareidim go on believing it, because they still deny girls an important part of education.

    2. "even when you think you know better."

      I think it is a waste of intellectual potential if, let's say, she is more intelligent or wise than him and still lets him do the stupidities he wants.

      Hashem said to avraham avinu that sarah Imeinu was right and that he should do as she said, although he did not want to and it hurt his feelings.

      I think men must stop to be like little children craving for one-sided "honour" given to them by their wives. They should grow up and be able to lead a patnership worthy of that name.

      We see in arab countries that excessive power to males and inferiority to females does the MALES not good. They become spoiled, unreliable, irascible. Why should we perpetrate a culture that leads our men to sin?

    3. there are 3 issues - 1) what is the halacha 2) what is the arrangement that produces maximum "x" where "x" is a desired consequence. 3) who decides what "x" is most desired

  16. Translation of the Zohar from R' Eliezer Berland (also seen in similar form in R' Shalom Arush, Garden of Peace, p. 115):

    "“And he took from the stones of the place and placed them around his head.” (Bereshis 28:11). We learn from here, says the Zohar, that even if he has a golden bed and just then her father or her brother comes to stay in their home, and his wife says, "Give your bed to my father or my brother, and you sleep on the floor," that he should obey her instruction. He should leave his golden bed and sleep on the stony floor. So too, if he has golden pajamas and she says, "Now give the pajamas to my father and you sleep in your clothes," he should give the pajamas to her father.

    R' Arush elaborates (in Garden of Peace):

    "The home is the wife's dominion: however she wishes to run it, the husband must accept it. So would Rabbi Hirsch Leib, of blessed memory, relate in the name of his rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz, of blessed memory, that a man must realize that his wife is the General of the home, and he is the private. Just as a private in the army has to listen to and obey every command of his General, without argument or objection, so too must he listen to his wife. And just like a private army, where a private has to leave his ego at the entrance of the base, so too a husband must leave his status at the door of his home."

    1. Rabbi Arush, may he be well, is certainly entitled to his opinion. But he is wrong. Especially considering no one agrees with him.

    2. It is incredible to cite a Zohar as normative when it goes against an explicit gemora (Kiddushin 31b) which says the opposite and the Shulchan Aruch poskens like the gemora.
      Shulchan Aruch(Y.D. 240:17): Both men and women are equal in being required to honor and fear their parents. HOWEVER THE WOMAN DOES NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO FULFILL THIS MITZVA BECAUSE SHE IS SUBSERVIENT TO HER HUSBAND THEREFORE SHE IS EXEMPT FROM THE MITZVA OF HONORING HER FATHER AND MOTHER WHILE SHE IS MARRIED. If she gets divorced or widowed she is obligated.

      The Shach adds, It would seem that she is obligated IF HUSBAND IS NOT MAKPID!

    3. This is even more incredible as the Zohar - The Soncino Zohar has the following in two places. There is no mention of the father or brother. What is he quoting from?

      Zohar says From this we learn that a man who desires his wife's society

      Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 49b

      must first entreat and coax her; and if he cannot persuade her, he must not stay with her, for their companionship must be loving and unconstrained. It says further of Jacob that ‘he tarried there because the sun had set’, which shows that sexual intercourse is forbidden during the day. Further it says that ‘he took of the stones of the place and put it under his head’. From this we learn that even a king who has a bed of gold with precious coverings, if his wife prepares for him a bed of stones, must leave his own bed and sleep on the one which she prepares, as it is written, ‘and he lay down in that place. Observe that it says here AND THE MAN SAID, THIS TIME, ETC., to show that he spoke to her lovingly so as to draw her to him and to win her affections. See how tender and coaxing is his language-’bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh’-to prove to her that they were one and inseparable.

    4. Aramaic first(even though this is picking up on a longer sugya)
      ועל דא אתערנא דכתיב יפגע במקום וילן שם דנטיל רשו בקדמיתא מכאן אוליפנא דמאן דמתחבר באנתתיה בעי למפגע לה ולבסמא לה במלין ואי לאו לא יבית לגבה בגין דיהא רעותא דלהון כחדא בדלא אניסו
      וילן שם כי בא השמש לאהזאה דאסיר ליה לבר נש לשנשא ערסיה ביממה ויקח מאבני המקום וישם מראשותיו הכא אוליפנא דאפילו יהון למלכא ערסי דדהבא ולבושי יקר למיבת בהו ומטרוניתא תתקין ליה ערסה מתתקן באבנין ישבוק דיליה ויבית במה דאיהי תתקין דכתיב וישכב במקום ההוא

      Now my translation:
      And upon this we cammented, "and he came to the place and slept there" meaning that he asked permission first. From this we learn that one who wants to join with his wife must first request from her and make her happy with words, and if he does not, he may not lay next to her in order that that there desire may be equal and without coercion.
      And he slept there because the sun was setting, this is to show that is forbidden to have relations during the day. And he took the stones of that place and put them under hsi head, we have learned that even if the king has beds of gold and honorable bed clothes to sleep in, and the queen prepared for him a bed of stones, he should forsake his own and and sleep in what she prepared, as it is written and he laid down in that place.

      The translation brought above, as seen from what I entered is simply not supported by the language.

      Since we are quoting Zohar how about this piece(Bereshit 22b)
      ואתתא לית לה רשו למעבד מדעם בלא רשות בעלה
      The woman is not permitted to do anything without the permission of her husband.

    5. Sorry -- the father and brother reference seems to be R' Berland's creative interpretation. The translation of R' Arush's book (by R' Brody) DOES NOT include the reference to the father or brother.

      Regardless of what you think of this particular passage, R' Arush's Garden of Peace is worth reading. Many people have attested to the unique insight and effectiveness of its teachings. I haven't read the woman's version, but I gather that it might place somewhat more emphasis on traditional gender roles than the man's version does.

    6. Dan, the teaching that a man is a private and his wife is a general is not just the opinion of Rav Arush -- it's also the opinion of Rav Avraham Sternhartz, the main leader of the Breslov Chassidim for much of the early- to mid-20th century (though Breslov has not had generational "Rebbes," unlike other chassidic groups).

  17. Tanna D'bei Eliyahu, ch. 4: "Our sages taught: be unassuming and humble to all men, and to the members of your household more than anyone else." Shay LeMora comments: "Unassuming means that he does not respond if they humiliate him or go against his will. Instead, he remains silent."

    This attitude seems incompatible with the husband-as-master idea, since how can you be dictator without responding when people don't do what you want them to do?

    However, Shay Lemora also says (commenting on ch. 14) that if a man is extremely humble toward everyone, then the Shechinah will dwell upon him, and thus everyone will fear/respect him (including his wife).

    This suggests that it is possible for a husband to gain the respect of his household and thus exercise a certain amount of leadership, but only by being extremely humble and refraining from getting angry when they do not do as his wants. Being humble would also seem to necessarily imply that one does not try to order people around and act as king of the household, since telling others what to do is associated with arrogance.

  18. Does anyone have a good explanation of what the "isha kesheira" line really means? If you look at the context in the Tanna D'Bei Eliahu, it is far from clear what is really being addressed here, and I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation.


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