Wife

While Judaism strongly emphasises the importance of a husband respecting and caring for his wife, Jewish teachings also states that a wifes first priority is her husband. While this notion may not sit well with some modern thinking on the subject, Jewish teaching suggests that this is a recipe for a happy and successful marriage. A well-known passage in the Talmud (Berachot 17a) states: "What is the great merit of our women? That they educate their children, encourage their husbands to go out and learn Torah and wait for them until they return from the study hall." Jewish literature is replete with stories of women of noble character who steered their husbands onto the right path through their wise counsel.

The final chapter of the Biblical book of Proverbs is an ode to the worthy woman. Whilst it refers to her wisdom and success in many spheres, it is her success as a homemaker that takes centre stage. Ultimately, a womans greatest strength is her ability to create a home imbued with spiritual and physical warmth. The seemingly mundane home activities are in Judaism regarded as holy acts. The pride a woman shows in her home is a great comfort to her husband, whose house thereby becomes a home.

A contemporary Jewish teacher, Feige Twersky, wrote: "One of the most critical building blocks of the Jewish home is that husband and wife have to be each others first priority. This point needs great emphasis because we live in a "child oriented" generation that is obsessed and confused by focus on their offspring, i.e. endless after school activities, car-pooling to ballet, martial arts, tennis, baseball or soccer practice etc My siblings and I grew up with my mothers (of blessed memory) constant refrain of "Ill take care of you as soon as I give Daddy what he needs." We may had to wait for our needs to be met, but we were paradoxically free of resentment and felt our mothers attitude was right. It gave us, as psychologists have confirmed, a great sense of security by living in a safe space with solid custodians who were committed to each other and, by logical extension, we knew whod be there for us as well.

Maimonides noted that the male ego requires first and foremost respect, to be looked up to and admired. Most men want to feel appreciated. A wife can bring a great deal of harmony to the marriage by verbalising her recognition of what her husband does for her and the family. There are lots of ways - some big, some small - whereby an attentive wife can show that her husband is important to her. Cooking his favourite dish, providing his with an enthusiastic welcome when he comes home from work, getting off the phone when he come home, making a point of looking good for him (not just when going out), acknowledge kindnesses (not just faults). Significantly, making intimacy and sex a priority is vital; neither husband nor wife should feel that the others sexual needs are unimportant. This may seem pathetic to some, but if these simple values guided our way we would not be witnessing such high levels of divorce.

Win, no lose
Sometimes laziness is the only reason that we do not help others, as in every other way we lose absolutely nothing by doing so. Sharing useful information is often an entirely cost-free exercise yet the recipient may benefit greatly. If you are discarding something you dont need, is there someone who does need it and may benefit from it?

The Talmud (Bava Kama 20a) often refers to an ethical principle called one person benefits, whilst the other person doesnt lose as presenting a clear obligation on the person who can help. Failure to do so is considered the custom of Sodom, referring to the notorious Biblical city of cruelty and sin. In the eyes of the Rabbis, what possible justification could there be for not helping?

The Code of Jewish Law rules (Choshen Mishpat 174:3) that "The general principle is that when something is good for one party and absolutely does not cause the other party an loss, we force him to go along with it," for if not for spitefulness, why would he object?

If you have tickets to a show and do not plan attend, offer them to a friend. If you know there is a traffic jam, text others that are heading in that direction. The principle is rather simple. How would you feel if you werent spared the traffic jam or you were not offered the opportunity to attend the show? We are being asked to extend the same courtesy to others that we would want them to extend to us.

Worry
Worrying wont solve the problem; fretting cant improve the situation. It is a profoundly pointless exercise. We spend so much energy and time worrying about disasters that may happen that we cant enjoy those things that are going well for us. And, of course, things usually dont go wrong, in which case you have vexed yourself for nought. Essaying Michel de Montaigne put it this way, "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."

The Chassidic master R Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov analysed the situation thus: there are two things about which one shouldnt worry: those things which can be fixed and those which cannot. If it can be rectified, dont stand there worrying - go fix it. If it cannot be put right, how on earth will worrying help? The problem with worry is that so much of it is wasted - on calamities that could have happened but never came to pass or on problems that can be solved. As Leo Buscaglia pointed out, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy."

The Baal Shem Tov taught: One who worries about this world wont have either this world or the next. He spends his whole life worrying about this world, so he doesnt enjoy it, and didnt leave time to prepare for the next world. One, however, who worries about the world to come, will have both this world and the next. R Mordechai of Lechovitch said: "All worries are banned, except one: Why are you worrying?" R Zev Wolf of Zhitomir counselled: "Rather than worry about what to do tomorrow, rectify that which you did yesterday."

It has been said: "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." As the medieval biblical commentator Ibn Ezra asked, "Why worry? The past is gone, the future is yet to be, and the present is a fleeting moment, so why worry?" many things are not worth worrying about in the first place. The great Jewish medieval poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol wrote: "People worry about the loss of their money instead of the loss of their time, even though money cannot help and time can never be retrieved."

Based on a verse in the biblical book of Proverbs (12:25) the Talmud (Sanhedrin 100b) advises that either worry should be banished from the mind or it should be shared with another. As the expression goes: a problem shared is a problem halved. If you dont have a good friend to share it with, let your pen be your friend (Hayom Yom, Av 14). Write down what concrete action you will take. A Hasidic master queried a perplexing passage in the Talmud (Bava Metzia, 59a) that states that in Heaven the gates of tears are never locked: if they are never locked why are there gates at all? He answered that they are locked when we cry unnecessarily. Theres no point in crying about something when something can be done about it.

If you must worry, get it over with quickly. R Hirshl Levin was famous us a genius, and a wealthy widow took him as a son-in-law. They later lost their wealth, and his were left with no income. R Hirshl continued, however, with his studies. One day his wife complained bitterly that only she carries the financial worries. "I also worry about our finances," R Hirshl insisted, "Only that the hallmark of a genius is that he can master in a few hours what it takes others whole days to accomplish. I worry in a few minutes what it takes others an entire week!" I guess the message is not to spend too much time worrying.