The Rebbe Writes
“I received some information about the relationship at home, but I do not know to what extent it reflects the actual situation. Hence I want to convey to you some thoughts in light of what the relationship should be according to Shulchan Aruch [The Code of Jewish Law] – the Jews practical guide in life. If the relationship is, indeed, in keeping with it, the purpose of this letter will be to strengthen and deepen it, as there is always room for improvement in all matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and Mitzvos [Biblical commandments.] On the other hand, if it is not quite what it should be, I trust that, since the Torah is surely a guiding light you will bring it up to the desired level, and you will do it with joy and gladness of heart.
The central aspect in the manner of conducting a home and family life is that it be based on the way of the Torah, whose ways are “ways of pleasantness, and all of its paths are peace.” If this rule applies to all activities of a Jew, even outside the home, how much more so does it apply within the home itself!
Of course, since G-d has created human beings with minds and feelings of their own and these are not uniform in all people, peace and harmony can be achieved only on the basis of “give and take” that is, meeting each other half way. For a husband and wife to make concessions to each other is not, and should not be considered a sacrifice, G-d forbid. On the contrary, this is what the Torah teaches and expects, for we are talking about concessions that do not involve compromise in regard to the fulfillment of Mitzvos [commandments], and both of you are of the same mind that the laws of the Shulchan Aruch must not be compromised.
Furthermore, to achieve true peace and harmony calls for making such concessions willing and graciously –not grudgingly, as if it were a sacrifice, as mentioned above, but in the realization that it is for the benefit of one’s self and one’s partner in life, and for one’s self perhaps even more, since it is made in fulfillment of G-d’s will. And if our Sages exhort every Jew to receive every person with a friendly face, certainly it applies to one’s wife or husband.
There are many sayings of our Sages, as well as those of our Rebbes, urging husband and wife always to discuss matters of mutual concern, and to give patient attention to the opinion of the other and then act in mutual agreement. It is also very desirable that they should have at least one regular study period in a section of Torah which is of interest to both, such as the weekly Torah portion, or a timely subject connected with a particular season or festival.
While the major obligation to study Torah is on men, it has been emphasized that women, too, have to fulfill the mitzvah [commandment] of Torah study in areas where they are directly involved, as explained in the laws of Torah study. All the more so in the present day and age when women have the possibility – hence obligation – to do their share of spreading Judaism no less than men.
It may sometimes seem difficult for the husband to take time out of his preoccupation to discuss mutual problems with his wife, or study Torah with her, but he should not look at it as a sacrifice. On the contrary he should do it eagerly in fulfillment of the most important Mitzvah – Sholom Bayis – Peace In The Home. And if any Mitzvah has to be carried out with joy, how much more so such a fundamental Mitzvah.
Finally, I would like to add that of the Mitzvah campaigns which have been emphasized in recent years, special attention has been focused on the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel [the love for fellow man,] which embraces everyone, even a stranger; how much more so a near and dear one.
I hope and pray that each of you will make every effort in the direction outlined above and will do so with real joy and gladness of heart, and may G-d grant that you should have true Nachas [joy] –which is Torah Nachas, from each other and jointly from your offspring, in happy circumstances materially and spiritually.”