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GOOD MORNING! A couple of weeks ago I gave 3 strategies to avoid arguments.
Well, the strategies to avoid arguments drew arguments ... so, I thought it best to respond for the sake of creating peace in the world and marital harmony.
I received the following note: "I have a very hard time accepting how you would encourage someone to accept verbal abuse. Whether or not the spouse erred in saying or doing something, that person still does not deserve to be degraded for ANY reason. It is not enough to say silently to yourself that your spouse is insane. Verbal abuse will wear down a person as well as the marriage. No matter how strong you are, pain is still felt. Although the scars from verbal abuse may not be visually seen, they are no different from physical scars from physical abuse."
Of course the writer is right; one should not be the object of verbal abuse and it is 100% wrong to verbally abuse someone. If it is a chronic situation, definitely counseling is vital. A person who is being verbally abused has to make a choice to either stay in the relationship or get out of the relationship. Oftentimes, it is very difficult to get out of a relationship. Then a person has to work out strategies to make the best of the situation. It is far better to reframe that the abuser is temporarily insane than to think the person is normal and his verbal abuse has merit; it will lessen a person from wearing down.
Ask yourself a question: Is a person who verbally abuses his spouse insane or sane? Here is the person (we'll use a husband for example) he chose to marry, to be the mother of his children, his life partner and he is verbally abusing her? Is that sane? Will it lead to fixing the situation, greater love, greater harmony in the relationship, a better atmosphere for the children? What will it sanely accomplish? Zero, zip, zilch - just a power ego-trip that won't even make the abuser feel better. Is that insane?
If yes, then isn't it better to see that and recognize that as the source rather than thinking the spouse is correct in his words - which will be far more damaging and wearing to the one who is abused?
A person who is being verbally abused has two options - keep quiet or speak up. If he or she speaks up more than likely it is oil on the fire -a person can try speaking up and see if the verbal abuser is open to reason and to being reasonable. However, it seems to me that it is unlikely that the abuser will calm down and be less abusive. Only trying will tell.
If the abuser is only incited by the victim speaking up, then keeping quiet is the better option. It will cause far less wear and tear on the victim. Angry exchanges only damage health and psyche and accomplish little other than the self-esteem of standing up for oneself - and that may be a pyrrhic victory.
The best thing is to get counseling to improve the situation. If the situation can't be improved, then one has to make the decision whether or not to stay in the relationship. And if one decides to stay in the relationship, then it might well be better for personal survival to view one's spouse as insane - perhaps temporarily insane - so as to lessen the impact of the verbal abuse. It is understood that it is often difficult to not respond, to remain calm and centered.
My dear friend and colleague, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, has written an entire book, "The Power of Words" on the Torah prohibition against causing pain with words. A tape on this topic will be included in his forthcoming tape series: "Creating a Torah Mindset For Living a Life Of Joy."
In Rabbi Pliskin's book, "Marriage," he elaborates on the Torah concept of love and respect, which is at the foundation of a Jewish marriage. Both husband and wife should consistently speak to each other with love and respect. Then again, perhaps Rabbi Pliskin's book "Harmony with Others: Preventing and Resolving Quarrels - Formulas, Stories and Insights" might be helpful for marital bliss. (His books are available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242)
For marital harmony, I highly recommend Rabbi Pliskin's books ... or see a marriage counselor!
For more on "Harmony in Marriage" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
There are two rebellions this week. First, Korach, a Levite who was passed over for the leadership of his tribe, challenges Moshe over the position of High Priest. No good rebellion can be "sold" as a means for personal gain, so Korach convinces 250 men of renown that they must stand up for a matter of principle - that each and every one of them has the right to the office of High Priest (which Moshe had announced that God had already designated his brother, Aharon, to serve).
Fascinatingly, all 250 followers of Korach accept Moshe's challenge to bring an offering of incense to see who God will choose to fill the one position. This meant that every man figured he would be the one out of 250 to not only be chosen, but to survive the ordeal. Moshe announces that if the earth splits and swallows up the rebels it is a sign that he (Moshe) is acting on God's authority. And thus it happened!
The next day the entire Israelite community rises in a second rebellion and complains to Moshe, "You have killed God's people!" The Almighty brings a plague which kills 14,700 people and only stops when Aharon offers an incense offering.
To settle the question once and for all, Moshe has the head of each tribe bring a staff with his name on it. The next morning only Aharon's staff had blossomed and brought forth almonds. The people were shown this sign. Aharon's staff was placed in front of the curtain of the ark as testimony for all time.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
When Moshe reprimands Korach for seeking the priesthood, he concludes:
"Therefore, you and your congregation who gather together are against the Almighty; and Aharon, who is he that you complain against him?" (Numbers 16:11).
What did Moshe mean when he said, "and Aharon, who is he"?
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger comments that when someone verbally abuses a very distinguished personage and then disparages a common person, the common person won't take great offense. This is what Moshe was saying to Korach: Since you are really complaining against the Almighty, how can your words hurt Aharon? He will easily remain oblivious to what you say since he sees that you also have complaints against the Almighty.
Our lesson: When we come in contact with a very critical person, we need not take offense at what he says. This is the way he speaks to all people so there is no reason to take it personally. Realize that the problem is his, not yours, and you free yourself from any possible hurt feelings from what he says.
CANDLE LIGHTING - June 23:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 6:16 - Hong Kong 6:52 - Honolulu 6:58
J'Burg 5:06 - London 9:03 - Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:51 - Mexico City 7:00 - Miami 7:58
New York 8:13 - Singapore 6:55 - Toronto 8:45
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
He who seeks revenge
should remember to dig two graves .
With Special Thanks to