A Husband Should Display Extreme Sensitivity

.. You are indeed correct concerning that which you write with regard to....

Nevertheless, we have been particularly warned about ona’ahs ishto, “not to cause one’s wife pain through one’s words,” (see conclusion of Hilchos Ona’ah in Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein) for they are tender by nature.

You should therefore see that ... appeases his wife through other means as well, not merely through logical and intellectual arguments.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 525)

A Husband Should Be Particularly Sensitive To His Wife’s Honor and Feelings When There Are Shalom Bayis Problems

In reply to your letter of the 24th of Sivan, in which you write about the Shalom Bayis situation in your son’s home [that it is in need of much improvement]:

Generally, it is customary only to respond about such matters to the person who is experiencing the problems, since only he can provide all the necessary details, while others — to use the expression of our Sages — “do not know what is in the other person’s heart.”1

Nevertheless, because of the importance of the matter and also because of your importance and honor, I will express my opinion in this matter.

[My opinion is] based on the ruling of our Torah, the Torah of Life, that peace in general is great and especially peace between husband and wife. When there are differences of opinion between them, then there is also to be found a detailed directive:

This directive (cited at the conclusion of the laws of Ona’ah of Rabbeinu HaZakein, Baal HaTanya v’haShulchan Aruch) is that one must be very careful not to cause his wife any pain ... to be very sensitive to her honor, etc.

And as is to be understood from your letter, [the problems between your son and his wife] are not at all concerning matters of Yiras Shamayim [where he would feel that he has to stand on principle, etc.] — to the contrary, she is very religious and observes Torah and mitzvos, etc.

May G‑d will it that His peace reign in your son’s house and may there be a multitude of peace there — something that leads to a multitude of blessing (see conclusion of Esther Rabbah).

.. With honor and blessing that you be able to convey glad tidings with regard to all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXII, p. 258)

Acquiescence and a Good Faith Effort
Greatly Assist in Achieving Shalom Bayis

In reply to your letter from Sunday, in which you write about the [unsatisfactory] Shalom Bayis situation:

In such instances one must see to it that true friends should intervene and revive the Shalom Bayis.

It is self-understood that you on your part must undertake — not only promise, but actually carry out — to acquiesce to all her just demands. Should there be matters that are not sufficiently clearly justified, then the two of you should rely on the opinion of neutral parties.

In most instances, when the wife discerns that her husband is serious about and is making a good faith effort to achieve Shalom Bayis and is ready to yield, this itself brings about closeness between husband and wife.

As known from the multitude of sayings of our Sages, in order to achieve Shalom Bayis it is worthwhile to yield and accede to many things, even acceding to things [which, while they are not matters of law, they are however] above and beyond the letter of the law.

May G‑d help that in the near future you be able to relate glad tiding with regard to the above.

As a receptacle for G‑d’s speedy assistance in the above, it would be most appropriate that immediately after your daily morning prayers you should say the portion of Psalms — as they are divided into the days of the month. Additionally, prior to your weekday prayers you should give a few cents for tzedakah.

Continue doing the above — bli neder until the coming Rosh HaShanah.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 397)

The Particular Need for the Husband Nowadays
To Act Toward His Wife With Affection and Sensitivity

.. When one thinks of one’s wife, one should always remember that the Congregation of Israel as a whole and every Jew in particular is deemed to be the “wife” of the King of kings, Blessed G‑d.

[In our prayers,] we petition G‑d that He conduct Himself with the Congregation of Israel — whom He calls “My wife” — in a manner wherein He fulfills their hearts’ desires for the good. It is also well known that our manner of service below [isarusa d’letata] arouses a reciprocal response from above [isarusa dile’eila].

Thus, it is incumbent for a husband to conduct himself in a like manner with regard to his wife. For as the Gemara states [with regard to the proper conduct and feeling towards one’s wife]:2 “... [He loves his wife as himself and] honors her more than himself.”

This is especially so, when one ponders that we presently find ourselves at the conclusion of galus and we are close to the imminent Redemption, about which time it is written,3 “A woman shall encompass a man.”

Bearing the above in mind inevitably leads to a feeling of honor and sensitivity towards one’s wife, viewing her in her true light — as “a daughter of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.”

Even if she should possess a fault, quite often this fault results from her husband’s conduct —causing her to act as “the wife of a thief” [who acts “like a thief”],4 rather than her acting as “the wife of a chaver”(a pious individual) who acts “like a chaver.”5

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 201)

The Particular Need for the Husband To Act Toward His Wife With Sensitivity At the Time of the Cessation of the Menses

Almost all Jews have dissimilar opinions — similar to those differences in opinion between you and your wife. The reason for this is that G‑d desired — and in this matter He created man — that no two people think alike.6

At the time of the beginning of the cessation of the menses it is common that all matters are received in a much more sensitive manner (including the above [i.e., differences of opinion]).

Among the advisable and prudent manners of behavior that will ameliorate the situation: to refrain from debates and arguments (by changing the discussion to another matter), to positively affect her in an oblique and non-threatening manner, and the like.

Obviously you are to conduct yourself in keeping with the law stated in Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, the conclusion of laws of Ona’ah [where the Alter Rebbestates that women are to be treated with tenderness since they have a more sensitive nature]. Also [it is important that you] give her credit for her accomplishments.

This is in addition to that which we have previously spoken about providing her with encouragement [regarding her activities] so that she finds satisfaction and is blessed with success [in her efforts].

(Kuntres Tzaddik L’Melech, Vol. VII, p. 242)

A Husband Should Be Ready to Forego
Material Matters In Order to Achieve Shalom Bayis

In reply to your letter of Teves 28 in which you write about the state of the relationship between you and your wife [and that she has moved out of the house]:

It is known to what extent our Sages, of blessed memory, speak glowingly about the importance of Shalom Bayis and that “When husband and wife merit, the Divine Presence resides in their midst.” 7 Thus, it is necessary for you to see that many of your wife’s friends speak to her and convince her to return home.

From now on may peace reside in your home, thus causing joy to reside there as well.

You will surely take to heart the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory, that women are of a more emotional nature (“Nashim da’atan kalah”)8 and “their tears flow more easily”9 [i.e., they have a more sensitive nature], and “the gates of tears are never closed.”10

Therefore, in many situations such as that which you are facing, the husband should sacrifice material matters as much as he can. This is particularly true in your situation, where it is important to bear in mind the effect your relationship has upon your children.

Bearing in mind the importance of all the above, surely after giving the matter due thought and consideration you will find the means to bring about Shalom Bayis in actuality.

May G‑d grant you success in your endeavor.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 211)

Achieving Shalom Bayis by Means of Kindliness and Affability

I preface my letter by asking your pardon [for the remarks that follow] and noting that which is already known, that “Great is peace, for which reason the entire Torah was given,” as the Rambam rules at the conclusion of the Laws of Chanukah. Moreover, this is also clearly stated in a Mishnah,11 [that peace is] “the vessel that holds and sustains G‑d’s blessing.”

[In light of the above,] permit me to prompt you to act with alacrity with regard to strengthening the state of Shalom Bayis in your home.

I refer quite simply to an improvement in the conditions of Shalom Bayis that exist between you and your wife tichye.

I write this in light of what I was able to discern “between the lines,” as well as “between the lines” of the conversations I had with your wife and her frame of mind when she was here.

It would be beneficial for you to be very yielding in your personal feelings and exert as great an effort as possible in this area [of achieving proper Shalom Bayis].

The proof of the importance of achieving Shalom Bayis is well known, known as well in the revealed portion of Torah, in that G‑d states that it is a mitzvah to erase His Divine and Ineffable Name, a name written specifically by a Kohen and with specific sacred intent, as long as it leads to peace between husband and his wife.

This is so even when the wife has conducted herself, Heaven forfend, in a manner necessitating “accusation” (kinui).

Surely then, achieving Shalom Bayis is crucial when we are speaking of a modest and morally upstanding wife [an isha tzanu’ah] who has trained and educated her family in the path of Chassidus. Any and all effort to achieve Shalom Bayis is a tremendously great and exalted mitzvah.

It is my hope that you will cause me joy by conveying to me glad tidings that you are endeavoring with all your ability to bring about Shalom Bayis, doing so in a manner that is consonant with the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory, that women are of a more emotional nature (“Nashim da’atan kalah”).12

You should therefore cause your wife’s heart to rejoice in an appropriate manner. By this I mean, that your attitude and behavior towards her should not be with testiness and irritability (ongetzoigenkeit), but with kindliness and affability (hasboras panim).

Surely even the above few lines will suffice [to rouse you in your efforts to achieve Shalom Bayis]. I await glad tidings [with regard to the above].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 301)

The Pursuit of Many mitzvos and Good Deeds
Does Not Act as an Impediment to Shalom Bayis

.. With regard to the matter at hand:

G‑d granted the Jewish people 613 mitzvos. Our Sages came along and stated that each and every individual is to endeavor to perform these commandments above and beyond the letter of the law. Then along came Toras HaChassidus and elucidated that all mitzvos are to be performed with fervor and vitality.

[Although all the above is demanded of us,] nevertheless it is patently obvious that there exists no contradiction between one mitzvah and the next, or between one mitzvah and all the others. On the contrary, “One mitzvah brings about another.”13

So, too, with regard to your question that keeps on repeating itself in many of your letters [concerning the prioritization of your time and activities]:

All those activities that you mention: your sacred work of bringing others in your environs to Torah and its mitzvos, your sacred work in ... , your assistance in the home — and “Great is peace between husband and wife,” as our Sages note that this brings about that the Divine Presence to reside among them — all are necessary and extremely noteworthy.

Since G‑d, “Who fashions the hearts of them all,”14 placed upon you all the above at one and the same time, you surely possess the capacity to arrange your life in a manner that not only will these activities not contradict one another, but that one will actually assist the other.

You, yourself, after all, write in your letter that your wife was pleased that you successfully influenced a certain young man, causing him to become a G‑d-fearing individual.

[Your wife derived this pleasure] notwithstanding the fact that she surely realizes that her being pleased with this will no doubt cause you to act with even more vigor and desire in this area of your activities. Clearly then, your wife is satisfied with these activities and enthusiastically agrees that they continue.

Understandably, when one is at a distance — in fact, even when one is in close proximity — it is impossible to state unequivocally that from a certain hour to a certain hour you should engage in this activity and then, until a certain hour you should engage in a second activity, etc. For it all depends on the conditions of the place, day, mood, the pressing nature of events, etc., etc.

On the other hand, “The Torah was not given to angels,”15 [and when the Torah demands something of us, we have the capacity to perform it]. Therefore do not exaggerate the difficulty in ordering your affairs in a manner that your activities come together and complement each other.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 98)

When Shalom Bayis Problems Result From a
Husband’s Lack of Koach Gavra

Our Sages, of blessed memory, speak — in the Torah of Truth — in wondrous terms about the greatness of marriage and its permanence.

With regard to all matters that depend on the subconscious, it often happens that quite unconsciously and sometimes without even any noticeable actions [on the part of the individual], changes occur, and as a matter of course, the “blocks,” etc., disappear.

You should therefore continue the course of action that has demonstrated benefit and success (at least [continue this course of action] for a period of time): Which is to say, [continue with] visitations to the psychologist, etc., and [continue] visiting the Holy Land during vacation periods.

Moreover — and this is of great import: Minimize worrying about the above, and be as inattentive and heedless as you possibly can (le’hasiach da’as) to this entire problem.

May G‑d bless you with success and may you be able to convey glad tidings [with regard to the above].

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)16