May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

There comes a time in every marriage when your wife is going to want to go walking, and you’re going to want to go to sleep. And that time is Friday night. What are you gonna do, right?

No, literally. What are you actually going to do?

On the surface, this doesn’t really sound like a conflict of interests. If she wants to walk, let her walk. You’re not the boss of her! And if you want to sleep, you can sleep.

Because for some reason, as soon as the seudah is over on Friday nights—and sometimes during the seudah if it takes long enough—you’re going to crash. In fact, sometimes mayim acharonim is really just a netillas yadayim so you can bentch. You just want to get under a warm blanket and fall asleep with a sefer on your lap until your wife wakes you up to remind you to go to bed. You don’t want to walk out in the cold and freeze your chin off in a Shabbat coat. Who designed these Shabbat coats? “Yeah, let’s have a big open neckline so everyone can see his belt buckle!”

On the other hand, if you care about your wife at all, you will at least be a little uncomfortable about letting her walk the streets alone at night. As long as she doesn’t expect too much in the way of intellectual conversation. You’ll be there physically, but mentally you’ll be asleep. The streets on Friday nights are littered with wives dragging around half-asleep husbands who are hoping they don’t run into anyone they have to talk to. I literally do not have enough brainpower to adapt to random people I run into and make small talk with them, especially considering the number of people who expect me to be funny every time they see me. I barely have enough change in the meter to talk to my wife.

“Did you know that Mordechai Schmutter’s not so funny in person? I met him once on a Friday night with his wife. He might have been sleepwalking.”

And then your wife says, “See? They’re out walking.”

That’s the kind of conversations she wants to have with you.

She also apparently wants to accidentally turn on motion-sensitive lights all over town.

The truth is that it’s entirely possible that she specifically wants to spend time with you, because you’re working the rest of the week. You don’t have time to go walk around town and turn on random motion lights. Plus she already fell asleep on the couch with a magazine while you were in shul, so she’s wide awake.

Not that you’ll be any good in a dangerous situation either. She’s there to protect you. It was her idea to be out there. This is what you’re going to explain to the muggers.

YOU: “We don’t have anything on us.”

MUGGER: “How is that possible?”

Great. I don’t have the energy to teach this guy about Shabbat.

YOU: “OK, once upon a time—before time was created, actually—the world was a formless void…”

MUGGER: “What? I don’t have time for stories, man. I’m going.”

YOU: “Can you go that way? I need to see if there are lights.”

WIFE: “You forgot to ask if his mother was Jewish.”

YOU: “I’m not awake! I don’t know why you couldn’t talk.”

Sure, I suppose there are some wives who are content to let their husband sit in their living room after the meal and instead have deep, meaningful conversations with him about whether he’s asleep.

“You were asleep just now.”

“No, I was resting my eyes.”

“You were snoring.”

“I was breathing.”

“If you don’t know that you were snoring, you were obviously asleep.”

“I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“That’s because you’re aslee—Hello?… Great.”

Maybe the walk is to guarantee that you’ll be awake through the conversation. Or at least that you won’t be snoring over it.

But for the rest of us, the question isn’t whether to walk with her. The question is how to convince her not to want to walk. Especially when she comes back at you with an argument about how healthy it is to walk after a big meal. She’s doing this for you. Sure, she can ask one of the kids to come along, but she wants you to be healthy, not them. Though I do want to point out that it’s mostly non-Jewish scientists who say that it’s healthy, yet on their holidays, you don’t exactly see them walking in pairs after their seudos.

So one option here is to specifically have Shabbat guests. Particularly ones with little kids. Your wife isn’t going to pick up after the seudah and leave your guests sitting around in the living room. And most guests, at least in our experience, don’t really want to go for Friday night walks. They did not go away for Shabbat so they could do unexpected exercise.

But what if it’s too late to invite Shabbat guests?

You might think, “What’s the big deal? We can invite guests just for the seudah!”

Nice try. Then you’re walking them home.

One way to get out of a long walk at least is to suggest a really close walking destination—a neighbor that you know that your wife can talk to for a reasonably long stretch of time until she feels like your walk has been long enough. And in the meantime, you can sit on their couch and fall asleep next to the husband (“Do you guys have a second Shemos?”), secure in the knowledge that no one can take a picture of this, and that no one will ever know for sure who the snores are coming from. If you fall asleep on your own couch after the seudah, you’re inconsiderate, but if you fall asleep on someone else’s couch, your wife will thank you for coming out with her.

But realistically, your best chance at avoiding a walk and also avoiding an argument about it is if it happens to be raining outside, baruch Hashem. This is why Chazal say that rain on Friday nights is a bracha. Chazal knew. They were married.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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