A Happy Wife a Happy Life – Making it L'shmah

I wish I remembered how this came to me, but I recently had a great insight worth sharing. I think I was learning a Rambam from Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah for my MJI class. It’s about l’shmah, relationships, and growing up.
There is an interesting idea that a l’shmah (“for the sake of,” without any selfish intent) mitzvah has the ability to raise up and transform non-l’shmah acts into l’shmah ones. Rav Chaim Volozhin talks about the idea when it comes to Torah study, and in a similar vein the Baal HaTanya mentions it in terms of a persons prayers – prayers with intent raise up prayers with no intent.
The Rambam discusses another idea. He explains that one of the reasons we have so many mitzvahs is that in order to exist in Olam HaBa, the world to come, it is necessary to have performed at least one mitzvah l’shmah.
This is what I want to say:
Chazal (Our Sages. What you say when you don’t remember the source reference exactly) tell us that L’olam adam yasok b’torah u’v’mitzvos afilu sh’lo l’shmah. A person should always involve himself in mitzvahs and Torah study, even with selfish intent. There are other sources that contradict the idea. The idea is, when the purpose of the lo l’shmah (selfish) act is to get to l’shmah – than it is l’shmah.
We perform Mitzvahs and study Torah within the context of a loving relationship with Hashem. In such a relationship each member will act for the benefit of the other and for the sake of the relationship itself. Two people who are getting their needs met exclusively for their own reasons are using each other, even if it is consensual.
In a committed relationship, we don’t always want to give what our spouses want or need. Sometimes we have to do it for fear of repercussions, to keep on their good side, or maybe even bribe ourselves with the knowledge of a “reward” we will receive – like our favorite dinner etc..
But sometimes our higher self shines through, and we do something for the other just because we know it would make them happy. We reveal that everything else we may have done for selfish reasons was a part of the bigger picture – our true desire to benefit the other and form a unity greater than the sum of our parts.
So that one l’shmah act doesn’t just lift up the other tainted acts, that one sincere prayer doesn’t just give wings or a soul to the others…they reveal what was really there all along…

4 Replies to “A Happy Wife a Happy Life – Making it L'shmah”

  1. This is so true! This is the key to Shalom Bayit – Compromise because you ‘intellectually’ know it is right thing to do; or as you say your ‘spiritual’ self shines through with the desire simply to please the other because you love, care and respect them so much. I love this 2nd way but of course you have to be aligned well with your basherit for this to work with fluidity. Right?

    1. Thanks, Elisheva.
      You have to be in line with your spouse to know what they really want and need, but you have to be in line with your higher self, strongly connected to Hashem, to be giving it just because it’s what they need. The truth is, the latter is probably more key. Our spouse’s have their ways of letting us know what they want and need. We only don’t notice when we’re focused on our own wants and needs more.

  2. Beautiful. Another way our relationships with our spouse reflects our relationship with the Divine.

    1. All human relationships reflect our relationship with God, but the marriage relationship seems to top them all…. Thanks Michael.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.