Omar Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta: lo matza haKadosh Baruch Hu kli machazik bracha l’Yisrael elah hashalom.
Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta said: haKakodosh Baruch Hu found no vessel that could contain blessing for Israel other than shalom. (Uktzin 3:12)
My colleague received this email:
This coming week Selichos begins. My father used to wake me up when I was in 1st grade, and he'd take me at midnight to Shul. Therefore, I have been doing that with my sons. My wife insists that it's “idiotic" and I feel that it's great Chinuch. What should I do?
My colleague suggested that they ask their son if he wanted to be awakened. I agree. I think children should at least have a say if not the final word.
This is not a timely article about selichos. It’s an article about something we need to work on all the time.
This article is my reaction to a word in that email that caught my eye and saddened my heart.
This man’s wife told her husband that his idea, his preference, his desire to invite his son to share an experience he had cherished with his father, was idiotic.
I cannot imagine a Bas Yisrael using the word idiotic to describe anything relating to her husband, child, or anyone else she loves. I don’t want to imagine what it was like for her husband to hear her say it. I hope her child never does. And I can’t imagine how it affected their Shalom Bayis.
We need to work on Shalom Bayis all the time. Entropy is part of the briah. Hashem created everything laasos, requiring activity, maintenance and care. Left alone, everything of value decays.
Nothing is of greater value to a child than the Shalom Bayis of his parents. Allowing it to decay is sad. Actively damaging it is inexcusable.
Your children are acutely aware of the level of your Shalom Bayis.
How often do you measure the level of your Shalom Bayis?
You could measure it this way:
Imagine being met by 30 sleepy 14-year-olds at 8 am. Your job is to get them engaged and excited to learn. [A high school teacher] came up with the idea of having each student do a one-word check-in on how they were feeling by imagining a thermometer measuring 1 to 10 degrees. One degree means, ‘I wish I was still in bed’ and 10 degrees is, ‘I am ready and excited to learn’! Each person says their first name and where they sit on the thermometer. (https://partnersforyouth.org/take-the-temperature-of-the-room)
When you and your spouse see each other for the first time each day, what number on the “ready and excited to share the day with you, BH” scale are you sitting on?
What level of simchas hachaim and menuchas hanefesh in your home does your child experience? Simchas hachaim, menuchas hanefesh, and the Shalom Bayis they engender are intangible yet palpable, intensely so. Your child feels the security and warmth in an environment of mutual respect and feels the unsteadiness and anxiety that breed in an atmosphere of contempt. Words like idiotic and demeaning attitudes, however subtly conveyed, undermine the foundations of Shalom Bayis, the foundations upon which children are built.
Dry bread in a tranquil environment is better than a wealthy house filled with strife. (Mishlei 17:1) A house filled with strife: They are always angry. (Ibn Ezra, ibid)
Why so much anger? Anger comes from thinking you deserve better than what you just got or didn’t get. Do you deserve better? Do your children deserve better? Does your spouse? What do you do when you don’t get what you think you deserve? What would you like your children to learn from your behavior? You can be sure they will.
The source of anger is the insult felt by one's heart. (Ohr HaChaim Hakadosh, Shemos 32:10)
It [arrogance] includes anger, because, when his wikll is not done, an arrogant person becomes angered. If he would always be humble and recognize his own shortcomings, he would not lose his temper. From this we see that arrogance and anger are one and the same quality. (Shaarei Kedusha Part 1, Shaar 2)
Parents are careful to provide children with their material needs. Many parents provide their children, and themselves, with more than they materially need. How carefully do parents attend to their children’s emotional needs?
According to chazal, without Shalom Bayis, those material things are worthless.
Lest you [bnai Yisrael] say, There is food. There is drink. But if there is no shalom there is nothing! [Hashem responded] I will provide shalom in the land. (Sifra Bchukosai 8)
After promising them bracha, Hashem promised them the vessel that keeps all brachos viable [machazik], shalom...For evil is embodied by divisiveness and confrontation...and shalom encompasses acceptance… Shalom is the opposite of evil. (Malbim, ibid)
Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta said: haKakodosh Baruch Hu found no vessel that could contain blessing for Israel other than peace. (Uktzin 3:12)
This Mishna was taught to answer this question: The Mishna (Peah 1:1) teaches that for these things man enjoys the fruits in this world while the principal remains for him in the World to Come...And the study of the Torah is equal to them all. Why, then, do we see many people who do these mitzvos yet do not enjoy their fruits in this world? Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta answers by explaining that all of these fruits, these blessings, require a vessel. That vessel is shalom. If a person did not receive the fruits of his efforts in Torah, he does not see bracha in his home, it is because he does not have the vessel of shalom in his home to contain and maintain [hachzik] the bracha he had earned. This is because he was not careful in his obligations to others. He quarrelled with his friends and the members of his household. Since he did not fulfill his obligations to them properly, [he did not enjoy the brachos he had earned] because shalom and bracha depend upon one another. (Tiferes Yisrael on Uktzin 3:12)
Let’s look at that list in Peah.
These are the things for which man enjoys the fruits in this world while the principal remains for him in the World to Come: Honoring one’s father and mother, and doing acts of chesed, and making peace between people, and the study of Torah is equal to them all.
As a parent, you do and teach every one of these. Make sure to create and work at maintaining a home of shalom, a vessel for the brachos you earn.
Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, dating, and parenting.
He is the author of Confident Parents, Competent Children, in Four Seconds at a Time Available at bookstores and on Amazon.
He can be reached at 718-344-6575.