Shalom Bayis — The Source of All Blessings

The greater the harmony, mutual respect and devotion between a husband and wife — particularly when both are observers of Torah and mitzvos — the greater is the measure of G‑d’s blessings to both of them for all their needs.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, written in the year 5726)

The Importance of Peace in General And Shalom Bayis in Particular

.. The Mishnah rules that “Peace is the vessel that holds and sustains G‑d’s blessing.1 Within the various types of peace, Shalom Bayis is one of the greatest of all. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 375)

The Vital Importance of Shalom Bayis

The crucial importance of Shalom Bayis [peace and harmony in the relationship between husband and wife] and the fateful consequences of the lack of Shalom Bayis is to be understood from the following statements of our Sages, of blessed memory:

1) G‑d decrees that His (Ineffable) Name be effaced by [placing it in] water [in the instance of a Sotah] so that peace can be brought about between husband and wife.2

2) When the opposite occurs [i.e., in the case of a divorce, G‑d forbid] — the Mizbei’ach, the Altar [in the Holy Temple], sheds tears,3 which is to say, that this [act of divorce] has significant impact [even] on that [special] place [i.e., the Mizbei’ach] where atonement is granted and prayers are recited for the peace of the entire Jewish people. Divorce is thus not merely a personal matter between two individuals [it has a cosmic effect as well].

Notwithstanding the above, our Sages of blessed memory have stated,4 “No two people think alike.” In other words, despite the above [natural differences of opinions between individuals], it is still possible and indeed necessary that there be true peace between each and every Jew.

This is surely so with regard to [peace between] husband and wife, whose conduct, when in accordance with Torah and mitzvos, is [so meritorious that it is] described5 by our Sages of blessed memory as [bringing about that] the DivinePresence resides in their midst.”

(From a letter of the Rebbe, printed in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIV, p. 467)

Shalom Bayis Is So Critical
That G‑d Has “Mesirus Nefesh” for Shalom Bayis

An example of Divine “mesirus nefesh6 [“self-sacrifice”] is the law stated in the Rambam:7 G‑d decrees that His Name be effaced by water so that peace can be brought about between husband and wife.

So great is Shalom Bayis, that although it is known how serious is the matter of erasing G‑d’s name — “He is One and His Name is One — still, G‑d has “mesirus nefesh,” as it were, and is prepared to have His Divine Ineffable Name erased, so long as it leads to Shalom Bayis between husband and wife.

(Sefer HaSichos 5749, Vol. II, p. 290)

Proper Shalom Bayis Has a Beneficial Effect On Earning a Livelihood

.. Moreover (and this is of greatest import, and it also has an effect on earning a livelihood), it is imperative that peace reign between you and your wife.

For this to be achieved, it is mandatory that each of you gives a little and does not insist on always emerging victorious [viz., winning every argument,] etc.

Having achieved this, you will see the fulfillment of “When husband and wife merit, the Divine Presence resides in their midst.”8

May you convey to me glad tidings [with regard to the above].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 194)

Shalom Bayis Is the Vehicle to Receive G‑d’s Blessings

A blessing from G‑d must and can be achieved through conduct in a manner of peace, the vessel that holds and sustains G‑d’s blessing.9 Therefore you must make a supreme effort to achieve Shalom Bayis.

Even if you think that you are in the right, and even when this is verily so, you should go about achieving your goals in a pleasant and peaceful manner. Indeed, this is the obligation of a Jew — particularly a chassid — to act with forbearance.

When you will conduct yourself in this manner, you will meet with success in all your endeavors.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 289)

Achieving Shalom Bayis Is Particularly Important
During Present Times — Just Prior to Mashiach’s Arrival

In reply to your notifying me about your upcoming birthday: I hereby bless you that your mazel increase10 and that you may be able to make an ample living in an easy manner, providing sustenance for your wife and all your children sheyichyu in a manner of tranquility — tranquility of body and tranquility of soul.

May G‑d also strengthen your imprisoned divine soul, that it be able to bring about in actuality Shalom Bayis in your household; it continuously astonishes me how you fail to see something that is obvious to all, namely, that your conduct — with regard to failing to work on Shalom Bayis — is the product of the evil inclination, which continues to gain strength regarding this matter.

I have already told you numerous times — and I will state it once again — that it is imperative that you make a supreme effort to achieve Shalom Bayis between you and your wife tichye, particularly so as my father-in-law, the Rebbe, voiced his agreement concerning your shidduch.

Also known are the sayings of our Sages that women are of a more emotional nature (“Nashim da’atan kalah”)11 and “their tears flow more easily”12 [i.e., they have a more sensitive nature], for which reason you should be the one who gives in, particularly regarding material matters.

Moreover, if at all times during our history our Sages have spoken glowingly about the magnitude of Shalom Bayis, [then it is] surely so during the time of Erev Shabbos Kodesh — and the entire Jewish nation is now in a situation of “Erev Shabbos Kodesh after mid-day,” as we draw ever closer to the end of our exile and the arrival of Mashiach Tzidkeinu.

It is self-understood that nowadays the difficulties and concealments are particularly severe regarding Shalom Bayis, for — as known — “Peace is magnificent”13 and the entire Torah is one whose “ways are the ways of pleasantness and all its pathways are peace.”14

These difficulties are particularly acute now, in the final exile, as exile itself is a result of the lack of shalom, as our Sages state in Yoma 9b.

Thus, the closer we come to the conclusion of exile, the greater is the opposition from the “opposing forces” which seek to prevent bringing about shalom in the world as a whole, and particularly between husband and wife. For husband and wife below, in this world, are the counterpart to the supernal aspect of “husband” and “wife.”

Nevertheless, [these difficulties notwithstanding, we have been assured that] we were granted the strength to overcome these difficulties (“L’fum gamla shichneh15 ). Surely, then, we are granted the power and the ability to withstand this test.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 433)

The Need to Exert the Utmost Effort To Maintain Shalom Bayis

.. You surely know how great is the importance of peace and harmony among Jews, as is so often emphasized in our Torah.

The Torah is even more emphatic about Shalom Bayis, peace and harmony in the relationship between husband and wife. So much so that, despite the sanctity of every word in the Torah, especially the sanctity of G‑d’s name inscribed in the Torah, there is one occasion when G‑d Himself orders His written name to be effaced by water, and that is... in order to preserve the peaceful relationship between husband and wife.

In light of the above you will find my answer to your question, which is that you ought to try your utmost not only to preserve a peaceful and harmonious relationship with your husband, but even to strengthen it and, as in every area of the desirable and good, to the point where it will serve as an inspiring example to all those around you.

Needless to say, I am not attempting to make a judgment as to who is right and who is wrong, who is at fault, and to what extent, etc., etc. But even assuming, for the sake of argument, that one of you is entirely in the right, it is still very worthwhile to do everything possible for the sake of Shalom Bayis.

Moreover, as the wisest of all men said, “As water mirrors the face to the face so does the heart of man to man.”16 It is certain then, that a consistently friendly and conciliatory attitude on your part is bound to evoke reciprocal feeling on the part of your husband. ...

(From a letter of the Rebbe, written in the year 5734)

The Difficulty in Achieving Shalom Bayis
Is the Best Indicator of Its Vital Importance

In reply to your letter of the 12th of MarCheshvan, in which you notify me that you have accepted and are following my directives regarding regular Torah study sessions and donating money to charity — however, with regard to Shalom Bayis, matters have only superficially changed for the better, but internally (b’pnimiyus) matters are still not as they should be:

I have already communicated to you in my previous letter that with regard to this matter, there surely will be difficulties and obstacles and particularly with regard to Shalom Bayis.

Moreover, it is particularly in this area that you must exert maximum effort, inasmuch as the multitude of difficulties and obstacles indicates that this [aspect of Shalom Bayis] is specifically one of your main spiritual tasks in life (“ikar ha’birurim shelo”).

This is to be understood as well from the writings of the AriZal, as further explained in Chassidus (see Kuntres HoAvodah, conclusion of chapter 6,) that present-generation souls — except for select individuals — have already previously descended into this world and have now descended again in a state of gilgul.

The main purpose of this descent is to rectify their lack of performance of some of the 613 mitzvos in their previous incarnations. Nevertheless, [i.e., although the main purpose of their descent is to rectify some mitzvah or mitzvos which they failed to observe in their past lives,] they are still obligated to perform all 613 mitzvos.

The difference [i.e., the difference between those mitzvos they previously failed to perform and the rest of the mitzvos that they are obligated in any case to perform,] is that the performance of those mitzvos that they fulfilled in previous incarnations is not opposed by the evil inclination to a very great extent — only to the extent necessary for the person to be able to exercise free choice. For these matters were already purified and elevated (hisbareru) in previous incarnations.

However, regarding those matters that were lacking in previous incarnations, i.e., they — and their corresponding soul powers — were not previously purified and elevated in this world [and for which reason the soul descends in gilgul], the evil inclination’s opposition [to the fulfillment of these matters] is there with [his] full force and might. I need not go on at length about something that is already amply explained [in sefarim], etc.

With regard to your actual conduct — for that is what is most crucial:

I once again rouse you and ask you to accelerate your efforts — and they should be very intense efforts — to achieve Shalom Bayis. [You should do this,] even though it will entail forbearance on your part, [but this forbearance is perfectly fine] since those matters that you will have to forego are not matters of Torah and mitzvos.

It is as I have previously written to you: Our Sages, of blessed memory, tell us, “a woman’s tears flow relatively easily”17 and “the gates of tears are never closed,”18 and [moreover,] “a person receives blessings only in the merit of his wife.”19

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 39)