When the daughters of Tzelafchad came to Moshe and asked for their father’s portion in the Land of Israel, they described their father as having been separated from Korach’s group. Chazal suggest that this fact is what caused Moshe to refrain from issuing a judgment on their request. Moshe felt that since Tzelafchad had not sided with Korach who rebelled against Moshe, he would favor the daughters of Tzelafchad and thereby cloud his judgment. He therefore responded that he was going to bring the question to Hashem for an answer. As great of a leader as Moshe was, he realized that he too was human. Moshe was so concerned about his personal connections and biases that he felt he could not offer an honest answer. What a lesson for us about the true honesty that we should strive to attain with ourselves when interacting with others.
During this three-week period of national self-introspection, let us bear in mind how important it is to treat others with the same respect and dignity that we would want for ourselves. There may be occasions where we find ourselves being judgmental, without contemplating our own biases in the given situation. For example, when others reach out to us for advice, we may have an internal conflict when offering our opinion.
This message is critical for life in general and for marriage specifically. When we interact with our spouses, we have to be honest with ourselves about our shortcomings, and why we may act or react in a certain way. The more honest we are with ourselves, the better spouses we will be. It is very easy to blame someone else when something does not work out in our favor. Yet, it is both mature as well as praiseworthy to take personal responsibility for our role within a given circumstance. As spouses, we are encouraged to look at how we can enhance the life of our partner through that which we offer them of ourselves. If each spouse adopts this approach, then marriage can become an everlasting bond where caring and love are victorious. Honesty is just as much of a virtue on an internal level within oneself as it is externally when presenting oneself to others.
Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler
Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ, and is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected].