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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Do you ever wonder if your spouse might be a zombie or a demon?

Beitzah 32

Today's Life Yomi is dedicated in memory of Jonah Milner z"l by his granddaughter Sarah LaFreniere.  Today is the final day of shivah and we wish that the family be comforted among all the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

There is a mediaeval tradition (albeit of questionable origin) that suggests that Adam’s first wife was called Lilith.  The story goes that Adam and Lilith couldn’t get along, since each one wanted to be the boss and so Lilith was banished to the world of the demons.  Subsequently, Eve was created from Adam’s side which according to the Talmud means that Adam and Eve were always two equal partners ‘attached at the hip.’   

Believe it or not, Judaism believes in demons and even zombies!  The Talmud describes certain people who may technically be alive, but are essentially the ‘walking dead.’

The Rabbis taught, “There are three kinds of people whose lives aren’t worth living: one who looks to his friend’s table; one whose wife rules over him; and, one whose body is afflicted with maladies.”  Some add: also a person who doesn’t own a change of garment.

The first category that is not worth living is the individual who “looks to his friend’s table.”  This has multiple meanings.  On a basic level, it refers to a person who must turn to others for his basic needs including food and shelter.  Those who add the “change of garment” type similarly place clothing in the category of necessity.    

On a deeper level, however, ‘looking to your friend’s table’ means always looking to see what your friend has in order to size up your own material success.  With such an attitude, you will never enjoy what you have and consequently never enjoy life. 

The fact that one who is afflicted with illness is living a life that is hardly worth living is self-explanatory.  “Abi gezunt” – ‘as long as we’re healthy’ has been the blessing of one Jew to another since the beginning of time.

The middle type of ‘walking dead’ is the person “whose wife rules over him.”  It goes without saying that since up until recently the Talmud was studied almost exclusively by men, the authors saw no need to employ gender-neutral language.   Obviously, the Talmud means that one’s life is not worth living if your “spouse rules over you.”

The relationship between husband and wife should be completely equal.  No wife or husband should ever seek to gain the upper hand in a marriage and “wear the pants.”  Family decisions should be made as a couple with each one eliciting the advice and input of their spouse.  If either one ever starts to lord it over their partner, the subjugated party will begin to feel that their life is not worth living.

And that’s why our Sages explain that Adam and Eve were created equal.  Marriage isn’t about ‘who’s the boss?’  Marriage is about partnership; it’s about equality; it’s about sharing.

Look at your marriage and ask yourself, ‘Am I doing my very best to make sure that my spouse is an equal partner or am I ruling over him or her?’  If you are, Heaven forefend, lording it over them – whether consciously or subconsciously – you are sadly giving your spouse a life that’s hardly worth living.

Do you tell your spouse what to wear?  What to eat?  How to spend money?  Who to be friends with?  What time you expect supper on the table?  If this sounds familiar, then you are being the demon in the marriage.  If this sounds like your spouse, then you are the zombie in the relationship.

You have a duty to bring your spouse to life.  Make them an equal partner in the marriage today and your life will always be filled with blessing, meaning and vitality!  

Life Yomi dedications don’t cost a penny!  To dedicate a day of learning in honour of a birthday, anniversary or yortzeit, all you need to do is commit to sending the Life Yomi of the day (or another Life Yomi teaching of your choice) to 18 (chai) people!  You needn’t provide us with the names of recipients; all we need is the honouree’s name and occasion.  For more details, please email

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