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Monday, 10 August 2015

I love you is not enough

Daf Yomi Nedarim 77


Avram and Sarai arrive in the Land of Canaan only to find the country plagued by famine.  And so they decide to descend to Egypt to wait it out.  As they’re approaching the border, Avram exclaims to his wife, “Behold I recognize what a beautiful woman you are!”   

Did he not know until now that Sarai was beautiful?  Of course, he did.  But the wearisome journey may have made her feel worn out and less than perfect.  Prior to the next leg of the journey, he reminded her how beautiful she was in his eyes.  (According to one opinion, he then hid her in a box once he 'saw' how beautiful she was, thus beginning a new magic tradition!)

Rabbi Aba quoted Rav Huna quoting Rav: The law is that we may annul vows at night.
Rav Ike bar Oven taught: Rav went to Rabba to have his vow annulled.  In the yeshiva’s small room he stood all alone in the night.
It was taught: One who tells his (oath-taking) wife, ‘You did well,’ or, ‘There is nobody like you,’ his words exist forever.

Prior to creating Eve, G-d declared, “It is not good for Adam to be alone.  I shall make a help-mate corresponding unto him.”  Until we find our help-mate in life, we are likened to being ‘in a small room, standing all alone in the night.’  Your basherte is the other half of your soul; once you reunite, you are invested with the ability to achieve your fullest potential in life!

What is the primary role of a spouse?  To create the best you possible, and vice versa.  Until one marries, one is beset by self-doubt; it is like being alone in the dark.  Finding your spouse means knowing that someone else values you.  That’s not sufficient, though.  Their job, and your job, is to continue that validation and esteem boosting throughout life.

Saying ‘I love you’ is telling your spouse about yourself.  That’s important; they should know how you feel.  But it’s much more validating when you tell them something about them, as opposed to about yourself.  That’s the implication of the Gemara – the husband says to his wife, ‘You did well,’ or ‘There is nobody like you.’  Now you’re talking about them and building their self-esteem! 

That’s what Avram did when he told Sarai how beautiful she was.  You might think, ‘Well, he was a big rabbi and she was a big rebbetzin.  They don’t need to discuss trivialities like looks.’  That’s utterly false – everyone cares about how they appear to others, physically and mentally.  Your job is to make your spouse feel awesome about themselves so that they can go on to accomplish the incredible things the Almighty placed them here on earth to achieve! 


Marriage is about building up the other half of your soul.  Your job is to make your spouse feel like the most special person in the entire universe.  May you merit making them feel awesome; and if you have not yet merited to meet your other half, never give up, they are out there waiting for you to make them great!