Friday, May 20, 2022

Yevamos 39: Honoring One’s Family

On this daf, we find a halacha regarding a woman’s kesubah.

Our sages say that one should honor his wife and children with more than he has. This seems very difficult. How can one honor with what he doesn’t have?

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz explained this conundrum in a fascinating manner. If a person knows that he has an obligation for more than his ability, he will find a way to pay up. A father—even if he has nothing—will find a way to get food for his children. The Gemara  teaches that one must take his financial obligations seriously. If he relates to them as is fitting, he will find a way to pay them. As our sages famously say, man is led in the way that he wants to go.

Rav Moshe Aharon Stern related a personal story that illustrates this principle: “When I was a yungerman, I missed several days in yeshiva. As was his practice when a bochur or yungerman missed a few days, the mashgiach, Rav Eliyahu Lopian, paid me a visit to determine why I was absent.

“I explained that a couple of my children were perpetually sick, since our apartment had a lot of unhealthy moisture. The mashgiach insisted that I needed to look for a different apartment right away. I tried to explain that this was impossible. ‘I am just able to afford the price of this apartment…’

“Rav Elya rejected this consideration out of hand. ‘That is no answer,’ he said. ‘Your kesubah obligates you to find a suitable dwelling for your wife and family. This apartment does not meet that requirement. If you can’t afford something better, you must find a job—working in kodesh of course—that will pay enough to support your family as is fitting.’”

Rav Stern’s story ended in a satisfactory manner. “Because of his prompting, I became the mashgiach in Yeshivas Kaminetz and purchased a suitable apartment” (Bayis Umenucha 153).

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