Abarbanel on the Parsha

For the week ending 6 April 2024 / 27 Adar Bet 5784

Birkat Hamazon: Blueprint of Jewish Destiny (Part 20)

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
Become a Supporter Library Library

“Anyone who recites Birkat HaMazon is blessed through it.”

(Zohar HaKadosh to ParshatTerumah)

Birkat HaMazon continues: On high, may merit be pleaded upon them and upon us, for a safeguard of peace. May we receive a blessing from Hashem and just kindness from the G-d of our salvation, and find favor and good understanding in the Eyes of G-d and man.

Our paragraph is a direct continuation of all the requests that we just asked of Hashem. The mention of “them” and “us” in the opening sentence is referring to the hosts and to anyone else who is present at the meal, even though they have already been blessed in the previous requests. Even when a person has eaten alone and is reciting Birkat HaMazon by themselves this sentence must be included because it is also referring to the Jewish Nation.

There really is no greater blessing for a Jewish home than for it be founded on shalom – on peace and tranquility. It is not always so simple to build such a home. It takes determination and emotional effort to make it happen. But when done successfully it brings unparalleled pleasure to our Father in Heaven.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein (1923-2023), the late venerated head of the Ponovezh Yeshivah in Bene Brak, related that he heard from his father-in-law, Rabbi Yehoshua Zelig Diskin (1898-1970), about a person who came to discuss with Rabbi Diskin his lack of Shalom Bayit [marital harmony] and his wish to divorce his wife. Rabbi Diskin told him the following sage advice: When you go to Bet Din the Dayanim [judges] must hear both sides of the story. They will listen carefully to what you have to say about your wife and your claims that you are not compatible. Then the Dayanim will listen just as carefully to what your wife has to say about you. And it is entirely possible that her claims will be even more persuasive than yours, and the Bet Din will find in her favor. Therefore, advised Rabbi Diskin, you must go home and treat your wife with respect. You must honor her and be patient with her. That way, when you get to Bet Din, she will not have any claims against you. Explained Rabbi Edelstein that it was clear, after the husband followed his father-in-law’s advice, that he no longer had any reason to divorce his wife. His wife appreciated how he treated her with respect and dignity, causing her to do the same to him. And they merited to live together for many more years together with true Shalom Bayit.

The Chozeh of Lublin would say that false shalom is better than having real arguments and disagreements!

Our Sages teach (Brachot 56b) teach that when a person dreams about a pot they will merit to have shalom in their life. Rabbi Mordechai Banet (1753-1829), the Chief Rabbi of Moravia, asks why our Sages make a connection between a pot and shalom. He answers that fire and water cannot exist together. But when a pot is placed in between them they don’t just coexist together they actually work together.

Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik (1914-1995) was once counselling a couple who were having marital problems. The husband came to Rabbi Soloveitchik and said “My wife is making a mistake. She just isn’t right! We can’t come to terms.”

Rabbi Soloveitchik responded, “Maybe your wife is not right. But if you create Shalom Bayit and your home is tranquil, your children and grandchildren will grow up in a harmonious environment. And that will turn them into better and emotionally healthier people. Take the long view of life. The outlook of a Jew needs to always be the long-term view. Granted, your wife may be wrong in this argument. But if you take the long view of things and consider the effects of long-term Shalom Bayit, it is far more important than the short-term victory over your wife in proclaiming ‘I was right!'”

Or, in the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager (1830-1884) the first Rebbe of Vizhnitz known as the Ahavat Shalom, when two people live in harmony it is because [at least] one of them is happy to acquiesce to the other.

To be continued…

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Abarbanel on the Parsha

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.