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Shalom By-Us

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Marriage - Successful vs. Keeping Mitzvot

[Name withheld] wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

What is more important: Shalom Bayit - harmony in the home - or mitzvah observance? Neither I nor my wife were raised observant, but a few years ago I decided that I wanted to become more observant. Our children, who have always attended Jewish day school, also were in favor of this. My wife was not altogether opposed to the idea, but wanted to move very slowly. She has become more observant (i.e., keeping Shabbat, stricter kosher) but is reluctant to change any more.

Unfortunately, I began moving too quickly and problems soon arose. In the meantime 3 years have passed and we have had some very difficult times; our marriage nearly ended several times. My wife has asked me to back off several times, but I find it difficult to "undo" certain mitzvah observances once I have undertaken them (i.e., kippah, tzitzit). Because of her unwillingness to conform with the rest of the family, she now has a very strong resentment for Orthodox Judaism, and believes it is "too demanding." When Yom Tov approaches, especially like this year when we had two days of Yom Tov followed immediately by Shabbat, she gets in a state of depression. To keep our marriage together I feel that I have to undo what I have done. This, however, presents a terrible inner conflict because I do not wish to transgress Torah law. We have been to counseling, but nothing has ever come out of it. Also, I have told my wife that she is free to do whatever she is comfortable with, and I will not think less of her. She feels, though, that she has become an outcast in the family and that she is the "bad guy" while I get to be the "good guy" by observing the Torah along with our children. I love my wife, but I also fear Hashem. What should I do? Thank You!


Dear [Name withheld],

From your question it sounds like you're putting "Harmony in the home" on one side of a scale, and "Torah observance" on the other side. This is incorrect: Harmony in the Jewish home is itself a fundamental pillar of Torah observance.

Therefore, you need to discuss each issue - kippah, tzitzit, Yom Tov, etc. - with a competent Halachic authority. Preferably someone with whom you and your wife feel comfortable and open. May Hashem grant you and your wife the strength to overcome your difficulties and to approach the New Year with renewed commitment to each other and to the Torah.


 
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