By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
The parashah opens with Moshe addressing the entire Jewish nation. He begins with the words: “See I present before you today . . .” (11:26). The commentators question why the word see is written in a singular form when Moshe is talking to the whole nation. The Ibn Ezra explains that there is an important lesson to be learned here. He says that by addressing them in the singular, Moshe is telling each person that he should listen as if he were speaking to him alone.
Human nature is such that when presented with advice or criticism in a group setting, we tend to persuade ourselves that it doesn’t apply to us. This can happen when listening to a shiur, attending a board meeting, or reading an article. We convince ourselves that the speaker has a good point, the article discusses a real issue in our community—but it doesn’t apply to us in particular.
If we want to classify ourselves as growing individuals who are open to making positive changes in our lives and relationships, it is essential that we adopt the attitude suggested by Moshe. When presented with advice or criticism in a group setting, the goal should be to “take it personally” and see how it can apply to us in particular.
This coming week, the month of Elul begins. Elul is a month of introspection that precedes the Yamim Nora’im, the High Holy Days. It is a time in which each individual takes stock of where he stands both in matters between man and G‑d and in matters between man and his fellow. It is a unique opportunity to focus on one’s marriage, evaluate the past year, and decide how to improve in the coming year. This week, make a commitment to “take personally” some words of advice or mussar regarding marriage. May we be zocheh to a year of wonderful shalom bayis as we focus on and put effort into making our relationships with our spouses as strong as possible. ϖ
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.