Daf Yomi Kesubos 17
The holy Chasidic master, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk would spend months on the road in self-imposed exile. On one such jaunt, he found lodging and sat down to dinner with his hosts. Sensing the special guest that he was, the balabusta (woman of the house) served Reb Elimelech his portion of soup first. Bringing the spoon to his lips, he realized that she must have slipped with the salt. The soup was barely edible.
He watched as the balabus (man of the house) took his first sip of soup. His face went bright red and he was about to scream at his wife. Reb Elimelech didn’t waste a moment.
He jumped up and exclaimed, “What delicious soup! It tastes just like my mother, of blessed memory, used to make it!”
All of a sudden, the balabus’s demeanor changed. His temper had cooled and he sat there beaming as Reb Elimelech lavished praise on his wife’s culinary abilities.
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmeni taught: It is permissible to gaze at a bride throughout the first week of her marriage, in order to make her beloved to her husband.
Rashi explains: When the groom sees everyone looking at his new wife, he will be infused with desire for her beauty.
The Gemara concludes: But the Halacha (law) does not accord with him (since it is never permissible to gaze at another woman).
While the Halacha ultimately forbids you to gaze at this young lady, clearly Rabbi Shmuel’s message is that one should strive to increase the love between spouses. Extolling their physical beauty is perhaps not the wisest course of action. But there are many other praises you could bestow upon your friend’s spouse that would further their love to one another.
When someone tells me what an amazing speaker and manager my wife is, I brim with pride. When they tell me how sensitive and caring she is, it warms my heart. When they tell me what an awesome job she does balancing family, career and the shul, I am overflowed with emotion.
Now, don’t I already know all these things about her and so much more? I know that she is the most awesome woman on the planet. That’s why I married her! Nevertheless, there’s no limit to the bond of love between husband and wife. We spend a lifetime working on deepening that bond. If you can add to that deepening by praising a person to their spouse, you have achieved a mitzvah for which you will be rewarded ‘in this world, but the ultimate reward will be saved for the World to Come!’
Anything you can say to increase the love between spouses is a huge mitzvah. You never know when you will say just the right thing to endear a person to their spouse. Human beings constantly seek approval and recognition from other human beings. When your friend hears you extolling their spouse, the love between them automatically grows. Tell them what an amazing person they’re married to. If you know of a special chesed (kindness) they’ve performed, tell them how impressed you are. They will become warm and fuzzy over their spouse, which is how they should be feeling!
Bringing peace between spouses is one of the greatest mitzvos you can do. Peace is not only necessary when they’re fighting; shalom comes from the word shalem, meaning complete. The deeper their love, the more complete they will feel in their marriage. May you merit imbuing husbands and wives with passion and love for one another and bringing shleimus (completeness) to many marriages!