What a remarkable Parsha the Torah presents us as we draw closer to Rosh Hashana! This week’s Parsha, Ki Seitzei, is packed with mitzvos. There are 74 mitzvos which is 12% of all 613 mitzvos.
One mitzvah which grabs my attention is the obligation the Torah places upon the newlywed husband to make his wife happy for the entire first year of their marriage. The Torah places so much importance on this obligation that he is absolved from serving in the military service even if the nation is at war. In fact, he is even exempt from serving the army as a civilian – he must be free and available for his wife’s needs the entire year.
What is the great significance of having a happy wife in the first year of marriage that it trumps the greater national concern of the military campaign?
As travelers of history we, the Jewish nation, know the secrets of survival. Within the frame of our personal lives we experience many storms of all types; snow, rain, wind and perhaps others as well. Nations, also, experience many types of storms; political, war, economic downturn, societal and perhaps other types as well. These storms take their toll on the welfare of those nations. Over time many will actually metamorphosizes into a people that will no longer resemble the nation as it was when it began.
And yet, in spite of all our travels which include being dispersed to every corner of the world, traveling from one country to another and never having a land that we can call our own, we have survived! There has been no nation that has weathered as many storms as we did. In spite of all the untold persecutions, pogroms and expulsions that we have suffered, we continue to thrive as a nation holding our Torah high above the stormy weather. How do we manage this?
The answer lies in the Jewish family. The Jewish family provides the soil from which the next Jewish generation sprouts. The Jewish family provides the nurturing nourishment through which the values and appreciation of Torah are transmitted.
At the core of our people’s lifeblood is the personal relationship every member has with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. How does a person develop such a relationship with his Creator? He appears to be purely abstract. Great philosophers might be able to relate to this Almighty Being but how can every 12-year-old Jewish girl and every 13-year-old Jewish boy come to love HaKadosh Baruch Hu?
The answer to this question again lies in the Jewish family. The love that only a family can produce provides the model by which the next generation can develop their own relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. It is a love in which there is authority and respect for the parents and a caring and commitment for the children. It is a mix and blends of perfect balance in which the children of the family can come to love and fear their parents. It becomes the paradigm from which the next generation has a frame of reference how to relate to the Being that grants them life, that cares for them and that is committed to them.
Given all of the above, there is no greater national cause than the Jewish family.
The remaining question is why focus on making his wife happy, should he not focus on building his home and family, providing all its basic needs?
Man cannot begin to build a home and a family without the help of his wife. The bond between man and his wife is therefore critical to the success of that home. No person can commit to another person with having a sense of appreciation and happiness. The Torah therefore instructs every newlywed man to dedicate the first year of their marriage to the happiness and appreciation of his wife. In this holy endeavor, he brings the Jewish people closer to their goal. It is no wonder that this Noble mitzva takes precedence over serving in any national military campaign.
As the Days of Awe approach and we refresh our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. May He take us once again back into His home and dedicate that first year to the happiness of His beloved.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.