Love is Based on Giving

The story is told about two brothers. These brothers each had a plot of land on either side of a mountain. The younger brother had a large family, while the older one had never married and lived alone.

The older brother thought. ”My brother and I have the same size plot of land, and yet he has so many more mouths to feed. It must be very difficult for him. I know what I'll do. I’ll sneak across the mountain at night and put a bundle of my wheat into his storehouse.” And this is what he did.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the hill, the younger brother also thought to himself, “My poor brother. He must be so sad with no children to gladden his heart. The least I can do for him is to give him a sheaf of wheat from my crop.” And at night, not wanting his brother to detect him, he too took a bundle of wheat, crossed the mountain which was between their homes, and stealthily put the wheat in his brother’s storehouse.

Every morning, each brother noticed in amazement that his own supply was not diminishing, even though he had transferred some wheat from his storehouse to his brother’s storehouse.

This went on for a long time when finally, one night, as each brother was climbing the mountain with his sheaf of wheat, their paths crossed. They looked at each other, and each one suddenly understood why his supply had not been diminishing. The two brothers embraced with great emotion, recognizing each others' self—sacrifice. In light of the brothers’ pure love, G-d decided that on the spot where the brothers met would be the place where the Holy Temple would be built.

Marriage is likened to a mishkan me’at, a microcosmic version of the Holy Temple. In order to build a sanctuary of peace and friendship, a dwelling place for the Divine presence, it is imperative that ahavah, love, exists between the couple. And as we know, true love is based on giving.

An example of the extent G-d wants us to give is brought by the Chasam Sofer (Responsa Even HaEzer 1:132). He writes about a certain Rav who traveled to Eretz Yisrael because of his love of G-d and left his wife overseas. He gave her a certain sum of money, but this proved insufficient for her needs.

The Chasam Sofer ruled that the man had no permission to "steal" from his wife and behave wickedly towards her, even though his intentions were for spiritual elevation. This is because a husband is commanded to give to and supply his wife with all her needs. He must not deprive her, but must support her in an honorable manner even if he has to live abroad. This is the will of G-d.

When one desires to fulfill the will of G-d, one merits siyata diShmaya, help from Heaven. The students of Rav Shach tell the following story:

The rosh yeshivah was in the hospital when he learned that a certain man who had shalom bayis problems with his wife was hospitalized on the floor below. Rav Shach made an enormous effort to go to visit the man and talk him into improving his ways. His students said to him: "Rabbeinu, we’ll call the man to come up to the rosh yeshivah. Why must Rabbeinu make such an effort to go down to him?”

Rav Shach gave a most meaningful answer: "I have already spoken to this husband many times to no avail; my lips are dry from talking to him. I don’t know anymore what to do with him. Therefore, if I make an effort to go down to him, then G-d will see my suffering and give me siyata diShmaya, and I will find new words and fresh ideas to speak to him. But if I don’t make an effort, how will I merit siyata diShmaya?”

We learn that if one makes the effort, then help from Heaven is forthcoming. Especially regarding shalom bayis, the beneficiary of G-d’s help will be the one who pursues peace.

Adapted from "Two Halves Of A Whole" by Rabbi Yirmiyohu & Tehilla Abramov.

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