My wife recently returned from leading a ten day woman’s JWRP trip to Israel. I was left to tending to the house, my four delicious children, laundry, dirty dishes, dirty diapers, you name it.
Throughout the entire experience, I learned an awful lot. I learned that there is no wrong way to boil an egg. I learned where the measuring cups can be found. I learned that I shouldn’t dry three loads of laundry at once. I learned that olive oil is a great way to remove gum from one’s hair, and that it is not a good idea to throw a ball in the vicinity of a glass picture frame. I learned how to make a burrito in 10 seconds, and how to make a bowl of oatmeal in a minute and a half.
I learned how to view the world through my wife’s eyes on a daily basis. After this trip, my respect, admiration and love for her is, as hard as this is for me to fathom, even greater than what it was before. It is unreal what she does on a daily basis.
I was faced with the dilemmas she is constantly faced with: What should I do when the baby takes her morning nap? Should I rest, so I can be at my best later? Should I start the laundry? How about emptying the dishwasher? Or maybe cleaning up the toy room? The dining room needs some vacuuming maybe I should do that? But, the kids are going to be hungry when they get home from school, maybe I ought to prepare them a snack. What about obliterating my festering dandelions? How my wife deals with these dilemmas every day with such grace, honestly, can only be attributed to the super human powers that the Almighty has bestowed upon her.
In the days leading up to the trip, what gave me the most anxiety, was how I would manage the daily tasks of running a home without my wife there to help. But, after ten days of running our home, I can tell you that the hardest part was not the daily mundane routine. The hardest part was living with a feeling that I wasn’t fully present– part of me was absent. A feeling of incompleteness consumed me each of these 10 days. A natural lack of motivation permeated my entire being. On the rare occasion I was able to speak to her without being interrupted by my children I felt renewed with life and vigor that carried me throughout the day, and gave me a high for hours.
In Parsha’s Emor, the Kli Yakar describes a man’s wife as his sustainer. He quotes the Talmudic passage that notes the fact that while a man might bring wheat home, is he the one who turns into bread? If he brings home flax, is he the one who turns it into clothing? A man’s wife takes his abilities and potential, and turns him into a man. As the Kli Yakar says, she lights up his eyes, and stands him up on his feet.
Indeed, as soon as I saw my wife, my eyes were once again lit up, and I was instantly back on my feet. How immensely blessed I am.
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Rabbi Daniel Wolfe recently became the Director for JewPro, the Young Professionals Division of The Jewish Experience of Denver, Colorado. For the last three years prior, he was a campus rabbi at SUNY Albany. He holds a BA From Brandeis University, maintains an active blog (rabbidannywolfe.blogspot.com), celebrates Broncos championships as a hobby, and spends a lot of his time chasing around his four children.