The Rebbe and Rebbetzin — Paving the Way

Once, while a certain chassid traveled past the Rebbe’s home, he noticed the Rebbe and Rebbetzin entering a vehicle. His interest aroused, he followed the vehicle until he saw the Rebbe and Rebbetzin enter a certain Park Avenue apartment.

The next day he returned to the address and discovered which apartment the Rebbe and Rebbetzin had entered.

Upon politely inquiring from the apartment dwellers as to the purpose of the visit of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, he ascertained the following:

The couple was not aware who the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were. However, they had been having Shalom Bayis problems.

The previous day, they related, some Rabbi and his wife visited them, had a cup of tea with them and spoke to them about ways in which they could rectify their Shalom Bayis situation. As a result of that visit, their Shalom Bayis situation had vastly improved.

(As printed in a Teshurah)

Using the Good Offices of a Third Party

In reply to your letters from Rosh Chodesh and the 5th of Sivan:

It pained me to read that the relationship and Shalom Bayis between you and your husband has yet to improve. As is well known, even the most fragile peace is better than the most minor and trifling quarrel. And it is self-understood that a sturdy peace is even better.

After all you write in your letters, I still do not see anything substantial that should serve as a cause for the antagonism between you and your husband. I therefore retain my opinion, which I stated to you previously when you visited with me, [that the two of you should try to work matters out].

However, if you feel that the situation is too difficult for you and your husband to work out on your own and the present situation is intolerable, then possibly the two of you should follow your husband, the Rav’s, suggestion — although with slight modification:

The two of you should set forth your grievances before one or two individuals who are mutual friends of yourself and your husband.

At times, someone who is at a distance [from the issues] can, [by being more objective,] more clearly illuminate the situation. He can suggest a strategy how to resolve the state of affairs, although those who are intimately caught up in the dispute have failed to notice this approach because of their anger and subjective involvement.

May G‑d abundantly bless your home and provide ample Shalom Bayis; may you be able to rapidly notify me of glad tidings with regard to the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. IX, p. 100)

When There Are Problems of Shalom Bayis
Speak Face to Face With a Rav

.. With regard to the relationship between you and your wife and the problems of Shalom Bayis:

Understandably, this is dependent on very many factors that are absent in your letter [to me] — and [understandably so, for] it is impossible to list them all in a letter.

Generally, according to the dictates of our Torah, the Torah of Life, in such instances one should speak face to face with a local Rav who adjudicates on a regular basis — and it would be best that this Rav be from your community. He will impart to you the Torah ruling.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 514)

When There Are Problems of Shalom Bayis
Both Parties Should Air Them Out With the Local Rav

.. It is customary among Jews that when the Shalom Bayis between husband and wife needs to be strengthened and is in need of improvement, both parties air their grievances before the communal Rav or the Rav of the area, and then follow his directive — a directive that is in keeping with the opinion of our Torah, the Torah of Life.

It is self-understood that both sides — both the husband and the wife — must demonstrate good will and make a good faith effort to strengthen the peace.

“Peace is the vessel that holds and sustains G‑d’s blessing”1 for all one’s needs, and “There is nothing that stands in the way of one’s will.”2

In light of the above, it is self-understood that you should conduct yourself according to the custom of fine and upstanding Jewish women — each of whom is called “Akeres HaBayis,”3 the mainstay and foundation of the home — both with regard to the observance of the commandments in general, and particularly those commandments that depend on the Jewish woman.

It would be proper for you to check the mezuzos in your home if they have not been checked during the past twelve months. You surely are aware of and observe the fine custom4 of giving some money to tzedakah prior to candle lighting on the eve of every Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Among the guidance and counsel given to increase one’s measure of security in G‑d [that everything will turn out for the best] — if indeed there is a need for this sense of reassurance — is to recite the 23rd Psalm in the Book of Tehillim, i.e., the Psalm: “G‑d is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing.... ”

With my blessing that G‑d fulfill the desires of your heart for the good, and that you be able to convey to me glad tidings.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXV, p. 135)

How a Third Party Should Go About
Strengthening a Couple’s Shalom Bayis

In reply to your letter from Sunday, which because of its important content I hasten to answer, without waiting for its turn:

In it you write about the relations and interactions between husbands and wives, etc.

In keeping with the directive of our Sages, of blessed memory,5 about the reward for bringing peace between husband and wife, that one “enjoys the fruits [in this world, while the principal reward comes in the World to Come”], it is simple to understand that any and all efforts and attempts [at achieving Shalom Bayis] are worthwhile.

It is also clear that in matters such as these it is impossible to provide hard and fast rules, for it depends on the personality of the husband and wife, as well as the nature of the environs in which they find themselves and in which they live.

However, it is also certain that each and every individual can indeed be approached and [constructively] affected.

[This can be accomplished] when the person ponders and seeks the proper manner by which he can affect this particular individual [whom he is trying to positively affect in his Shalom Bayis] — approaching him time and again in a pleasant manner, but with firmness and with words that emanate from the heart.

All the above is not difficult to convey in a heartfelt manner, for this is of tremendous importance to both husband and wife, as well as to all future generations that will emanate from them.

That which is beneficial in all such instances [of trying to reestablish Shalom Bayis] is conducting oneself in the manner of Aharon, the “Lover of Peace,” as described in the 12th chapter of Avos d’Rebbe Nassan.6

May G‑d bless you with success in [your efforts to] help create a proper house in Israel, and that it be grounded in Torah and mitzvos even as it is practiced on a consistent daily basis. ...

If the careers of the above mentioned couple permit, there is room to say that their traveling together for a few weeks to a vacation spot and the like for a second honeymoon, would rectify the entire situation.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XX, p. 19)

Friends Can Assist a Couple in Rebuilding Shalom Bayis

In response to your letter of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, in which you write about your family situation, etc., [i.e., problems with regard to Shalom Bayis]:

Generally, when seeking to enhance the relationship between husband and wife, the best and most appropriate way, [when the wife is disgruntled by some aspect of the marriage,] is to have friends speak to her.

It would be appropriate that her women friends in particular speak to her, inasmuch as they are capable of influencing her — in a pleasant and agreeable manner — to conduct her home (together with her husband) in a goodly manner, both materially and spiritually.

In keeping with the verse7 “Stones are worn away by [the relentless flow of] water,” so, too, when these friends will speak to her time and time again, particularly when their words will be heartfelt, then eventually they will succeed [in changing her attitude and bringing about Shalom Bayis].

It goes without saying that you on your part are to conduct yourself [vis-à-vis your wife] in a manner of friendship and peace.

The combination of all the above will hasten Shalom Bayis in your home.

May G‑d bless you that you and your wife together succeed in raising all your children sheyichyu to “Torah, chuppah, and good deeds,” in a serene frame of mind and with ample sustenance.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 342)

Friends Can More Readily Bring About Shalom Bayis Than Relatives

You write about your sister and the family situation, [i.e., the poor state of Shalom Bayis] in her home:

We verily observe that in such situations, the words of friends and associates [of the couple] can have a greater effect [in bringing about Shalom Bayis] than the words of relatives. Understandably, this should be done in a manner that it not be known [by your sister and her husband] that the request [for mediation and intervention of friends] comes from you.

It is self-understood as well that your sister should not be overly critical, even with regard to those matters in which she feels she is one hundred percent in the right.

Since “Great is peace” and especially Shalom Bayis, “peace in the home,” it is worthwhile to restrain your emotions and contain yourself, as long as this will strengthen the peace.

I surely need not mention that your sister should be even more scrupulous in observing the rules and regulations of Taharas Hamishpachah ((niddah, hefsek taharah, immersion in a kosher mikveh, etc.), as unlawful closeness [between husband and wife] leads to distance [between them].

It is my hope that you will find the appropriate language by which to explain the above to your sister. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 119)

At Times Adjusting to Each Other Is Best Accomplished
Via an Understanding and Friendly Third Party

To the two of them:8

1) Our Sages, of blessed memory, state that man and wife (who are married in accordance to the Torah and Jewish law) merit to have the Divine Presence reside in their midst.

2) This is particularly so, since the husband is a Kohen and G‑d has blessed [the two of] you with children.

3) Our Sages, of blessed memory, state that G‑d’s residing [in their midst] obliges and necessitates peace — true peace — in that site.

4) Our Sages, of blessed memory, [further] state that no two people think alike, for which reason it may well become necessary that from time to time there must be consultation and mediation through the good offices of discerning friends (yedidim mevinim) [who can objectively advise them].

5) It is best when these [discerning friends] are Rabbanim — individuals who are knowledgeable of the view of Torah.

6) Therefore, upon your return to your city, get in touch with a rabbi in your city, relate to him my response, and ask him for his directives.

7) Surely (afterwards) you will both speak with him, and may G‑d grant you success.

8) Check the mezuzos and tefillin.

9) I will mention you in prayer for glad tidings, on the holy resting site of my father-in-law, the Rebbe.

10) With blessings that you celebrate the Festival of Shavuos and the Receiving of the Torah, in a joyful and internalized manner.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe, printed in a Teshurah)

How Grown Children Can Assist
Their Parents in Achieving Shalom Bayis

In reply to your letter, the content of which is [your informing me about] the [torturous] relationship between your father and mother sheyichyu:

In matters such as these it is self-understood that your mother tichye should not get drawn into quarrels, even regarding those matters regarding which she feels her husband is entirely in the wrong. When your father will see that your mother has no desire to quarrel and clash, his desire to bicker and squabble will weaken and continuously lessen with time.

You should also have your mother ask friends in the community to influence your father to improve his attitude. Understandably, your father is not to know that your mother asked them to influence him [that he change for the better].

Since all matters require aid and assistance from Above, it would be appropriate for your mother to give every weekday morning some coins to tzedakah, in addition to her surely conducting herself in the custom of Jewish women to give tzedakah prior to lighting candles on the eve of every Shabbos and Yom Tov.

It is self-understood that all the above is in addition to the brothers and sisters sheyichyu influencing — in an honorable and gentle manner — their parents that father and mother improve their mutual relationship.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 169)

When a Couple Is Having Shalom Bayis Problems Those Who Are Closest to One of the Parties Should Refrain From Mixing In

.. I find particularly alarming that which you write that your sister, [who is having Shalom Bayis problems,] is presently staying in her parents’ home.

To our sorrow, we have clearly seen the disastrous results that can occur when other individuals mix into the affairs that should be strictly between husband and wife. This is the case even if those who intervene are very close to them.

(At times the intervention of those who are very close to one of the parties can more easily lead to damage than to healing. For inasmuch as they are so very close to one of the spouses, they [may very well instinctively and subjectively] side with that party. This [lack of objectivity] would not be the case when a total stranger intervenes.)

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 58)

Even Very Close Relatives Should Not Meddle
When There Is an Issue Between Husband and Wife

In reply to your letter from ... in which you notify me about the [Shalom Bayis] situation that has arisen between your sister [and her husband,] your brother-in-law, and their dispute:

For some time now I have viewed with extreme disfavor the practice of some individuals who meddle and intrude when there is an issue between husband and wife. Even those who are [the] closest [of relatives], such as a brother and sister or father and mother, do not help matters by interfering.

Moreover, it is known how our Sages, of blessed memory, have spoken at length regarding the great import of peace between husband and wife, to the extent that G‑d decrees that His Name be erased by [placing it in] water so that peace can be brought about between husband and wife.9

When a peripheral individual mixes in — and surely that individual possesses not only a divine soul [whose intent is surely solely to help] but also an animal soul [whose motives may well be questionable] — then by and large this does not help bring about Shalom Bayis.

I do not desire to address this matter at greater length because I am not sure that my words will be efficacious. Conversely, if they will help, then the above words surely suffice.

And in response to your question with regard to the actual dispute: “There is justice in Israel,” and the disputants need to clarify the law by Rabbonei Anash.

May G‑d bless His nation with peace.

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

Non-Interference by One Side of the Family May Well
Lead to Non-Interference by the Other Side

You ask for my advice [regarding the Shalom Bayis difficulties between your daughter and her husband].

In the situation you describe, it would be better not to interfere in the state of affairs that has arisen between your daughter and her husband sheyichyu. This will enable them to ultimately work things out between themselves.

Even if the interference of others [from the other side] cannot be avoided, it is still better that you do not do so. By refraining from interfering, they too will cease to meddle, as they will see that the other side is not mixing in.

Possibly it will not be easy for you to refrain from interfering. Nonetheless, when you consider the benefit [of your restraint] for your daughter, you will probably be able to accomplish this.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 465)