Daf Yomi Kiddushin 71
Avram and Sarai, together with their nephew Lot, finally arrive in the Promised Land. Along their travels, Hashem has blessed them with material prosperity and they are living the good life. One day, however, a quarrel breaks out between their shepherds.
“We can graze our sheep anywhere we like!” exclaim the shepherds of Lot.
“What do you mean?” reply Avram’s shepherds, “You can’t just go into private property and let the sheep pasture!”
“Why not? G-d promised this land to Avram and Sarai’s family. Since they have no children, Lot is their heir. Therefore, the entire land essentially belongs to him. So it’s not stealing!”
Avram hears about the altercation and decides that the time has come for him to part company with Lot. After all, the way of Avram was to avoid conflict and quarrels and strive for peace.
Ulla came to Pumbedisa to the house of Rav Yehuda. He noticed that Rav Yitzchak the son of Rav Yehuda had grown up but was still not married.
He said to him, “Why, sir, have you not sought a wife for you son?”
He replied, “Nowadays, who knows where to find a (genealogically) kosher girl?”
Ulla responded, “And how about us, do we know where we came from?”
He replied, “If so, what should we do?”
Said Ulla, “Go look for the virtue of silence, just as they look for in the west (Israel). When two people are quarreling, look to see who is the first to be quiet. As they say, he is the purer individual.”
Rav taught: In Babylonia, silence is the marker of good yichus (stock).
People get married for a host of reasons. Some choose their spouses based solely on their physical appearance. Others marry for money. Others are swept off their feet by some je ne sais quoi.
What, according to the Gemara, is the most important virtue to seek in a marriage partner? Silence. Civility. An aversion to conflict.
Many people constantly seek to pick fights or argue an irrelevant point. That’s bad news in a marriage. The last thing you want is a spouse who always needs to be right. You want a spouse who will quickly change the subject when they sense an argument is looming. You need someone who understands that most things in life aren’t worth the time and effort to argue over.
I’m very blessed to be married to a brilliant wife. When the Rabbanit began dating, a friend of hers advised that she not come across as too intelligent, because “men don’t like smart women.” What a ridiculous idea! It’s not that men don’t like ‘smart’ women; they don’t like ‘smarty-pants’ women. And guess what? Women don’t like smarty-pants men, either! If you’re the kind of person who always has to be right and won’t stand down from an argument until the other person concedes, who in their right mind would want to marry you?
I recently read an article in a prominent psychology journal that ‘proved’ that men don’t like smart women. I turned to Rabbanit Batya and lamented, “This article was clearly written by an intelligent single woman who is convinced that the reason she’s not married is that she’s too smart for all the men she dates. Sadly, maybe she just needs to be a little nicer to them. . .” And thus the silly myth is perpetuated by people who simply need to learn that ‘being right’ is not the most important virtue that potential marriage partners are looking for.
Smart men and women seek marriage partners with whom they can get through life with the least amount of conflict. May you merit a smooth-sailing marriage!