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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Is your spouse holding you back from your spiritual growth?

Daf Yomi Nedarim 79


Sammy had been following Life Yomi for over a year and he was finally ready to take the plunge and start the big one – Daf Yomi.  There was a shiur (class) that met each morning just around the corner and he was really excited to become their newest member.  From there, he could catch the bus straight to work.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Malka was not happy, to put it mildly.  Sammy used to come home immediately following shacharis and help her get the kids ready for school.   The first day she handled it all on her own, the second day was okay too, but by day three, she had had enough.  What gave him the right to go all frum at her expense?  Who was the one sacrificing for the daily Daf?  Monsieur was sitting around with his Gemara, while she slaved away at home!

Mishnah: These are the vows that a husband may annul – words that involve self-affliction.
The Gemara asks: Can he only annul vows of self-affliction and not those that do not involve self-affliction?  But we learned from the verse, “between husband and wife” that he may annul any vows between him and her! 
They answer: He can indeed annul both kinds of vow.  However, vows of self-affliction he annuls permanently; whereas other vows, as long as they are married the annulment is in force, but should they get divorced, her vow is reactivated.

Regarding the laws of vow-annulment between husband and wife, the Torah’s message is that you must both be on the same page.   You can’t go making vows of abstinence if they will end up unreasonably impacting your spouse.  Any new religious assumption must be cleared with your other half first.  That’s why the Gemara explains that should they get divorced, at that point, the vows are reactivated.  Until such time, they must be a joint decision.

Certainly, Halacha (law) is Halacha.  But when it comes to taking extra stringencies upon yourself, you and your spouse must be in agreement.  Daf Yomi is admirable, not obligatory.  You want to start learning the Daf?  Great, go ahead!  Learn it during your regular TV or relaxation time, not when your spouse needs you to help get the kids ready for school.

When we first came to Edmonton, chalav yisrael (supervised kosher milk) was not readily available.  We would ship it in every few months and freeze it.  Baruch Hashem, this community has come a long way since.  Nowadays, you can buy milk, cheese, and yoghurt in not one, but two of the regular supermarkets, such has the demand for chalav yisrael grown!  But back in the day, when it wasn’t easy to keep, a young lady in our shul wanted to adopt the stringency.  I explained to her that unless her husband was on the same page, it was a terrible idea.  Just think of all the shalom bayis (domestic peace) issues that could arise anytime they might run out of milk, or should the months-old milk go sour!  You can’t go taking on ‘religious vows’ in marriage unless you are both in agreement.


Becoming more dedicated to the Divine mission is wonderful.  But you must always make sure that your teammate is on the same page.  May you and your spouse forever grow together in your Avodas Hashem (service of Heaven)!