Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank You

It's funny how two little words have become the most repeated in my daily vocabulary.

"Thank you!"

Sure, those words often appear in some modified form, such as "Thank you, sweetheart!" "Wow, thank you SO much!" "Thank you, I really appreciate it." and "You're amazing, thank you!"

It's so easy to say them. Yet, we often have difficulty - dating back to our preschool days - in expressing gratitude for those who help us, give us something, or simply do something nice that we benefit from. I wonder why it is so hard for people's egos to simply let go and acknowledge that there are other people out there who genuinely think about you and want to make things better for you, even in the smallest fashion.

Of course, all of this is kal v'chomer X a bazillion when it comes to being married. There are so many things that can be taken for granted - ever so easily! The nightly dinner, the clean bathroom, the new and empty trash bag, the folded undershirts, the washed and dried cutlery and plates, among a thousand (and more) other things. And that's aside from all the "big" things a spouse can do, such as being emotionally supportive, helping with a major project, or doing favors that he/she does not find pleasant or worthwhile, but you happen to want/need.

Nowhere does halacha obligate a spouse to be the custodial staff/maid of the household. Yet, this other person is willingly making time to ensure that everything you come into contact with is in working order, clean, tastes good, or is otherwise pleasing according to your personal sensibility. Isn't it amazing? It certainly is, but don't you dare take it for granted. Treat him/her like a person, acknowledge that you have noticed all the wonderful things he/she has done for you, and do it with a smile.

Truthfully, merely saying "thank you" isn't enough to cover the debt of gratitude a spouse owes for all the little (and big things) his/her husband/wife does for him/her. More should certainly should be done to express gratitude, but making sure to say "thank you" at every single available opportunity - whether in person, in a cute little note, or on your little magnetized dry-erase board stuck to the fridge (a favorite with ASoG and I) - is an absolute must. Nothing should ever go un-thanked and nothing your spouse ever does should be taken for granted. Buying presents, extending yourself to help/please your spouse, and other things - which should be done with an attitude of wanting to give to your spouse rather than "Oh, I owe him/her one" - are also very appropriate.

Though I have been writing this as gender-neutral as I can, I am quite certain the un-thanked wife/unappreciative husband model is by far the more common one. So guys, be more mindful - and thankful!

And for all the single readers: it definitely pays to develop a sense of always saying thank you now, while you are still unmarried. No reason to wait until your spouse feels aggrieved because you fail to acknowledge the myriad wonderful things he/she does for you every day. We are supposed to have hakaras hatov as an ingrained part of our psyche, whether to HaShem, our parents, or anyone who does something for us. Learn the lesson now, and it will make your marriage that much richer and enjoyable.

So, in conclusion: Thank you ASoG for everything!


  1. Wonderful post. Sounds like you and ASoG have got the right hashkafah towards marriage! :)

    A Jew always needs to have hakarat hatov...that's why we're named "yehudim" -- from the word "hod'aah" :D

  2. "N0where does halacha obligate a spouse to be the custodial staff/maid of the household"

    ג וכן כל אישה רוחצת לבעלה פניו ידיו ורגליו, ומוזגת לו את הכוס, ומצעת לו את המיטה, ועומדת ומשמשת בפני בעלה, כגון שתיתן לו מים או כלי או תיטול מלפניו וכיוצא בדברים אלו; אבל אינה עומדת ומשמשת בפני אביו, או בפני בנו. [ד] ומלאכות אלו, עושה אותן היא בעצמה; ואפילו היו להן כמה שפחות, אין עושה מלאכות אלו לבעל אלא אשתו.

    ד [ה] יש מלאכות אחרות שהאישה עושה אותן לבעלה, בזמן שהן עניים; ואלו הן: אופה את הפת בתנור, ועזרא תיקן שתהיה אישה משכמת ואופה כדי שתהיה הפת מצויה לעניים; ומבשלת את התבשילין, ומכבסת בגדים, ומניקה את בנה, ונותנת תבן לפני בהמתו אבל לא לפני בקרו, ומטחנת. כיצד מטחנת--יושבת בריחיים ומשמרת את הקמח, ואצה בטוחנת, או מחמרת אחר הבהמה, כדי שלא ייבטלו הריחיים; ואם היה דרכן לטחון בריחיים של יד, טוחנת.

    ה [ו] במה דברים אמורים, בעניים; אבל אם הכניסה לו שפחה אחת, או נכסים שראויין לקנות מהן שפחה אחת, או שהייתה לו שפחה אחת, או שהיה לו ממון כדי לקנות שפחה אחת--אינה מטחנת, ולא אופה, ולא מכבסת, ולא נותנת תבן לפני בהמתו.

    ו הכניסה לו שתי שפחות, או נכסים הראויין לקנות מהן שתי שפחות, או שהיו לו שתי שפחות, או שהיה ראוי לקנות שתי שפחות--אינה מבשלת, ואינה מניקה את בנה, אלא נותנת אותו לשפחה להניק.

    ז נמצאו כל המלאכות שכל אישה עושה אותן לבעלה, חמש מלאכות--טווה, ורוחצת פניו ידיו ורגליו, ומוזגת הכוס, ומצעת את המיטה, ועומדת לשמש בפניו; והמלאכות שמקצת הנשים עושות אותן ומקצתן אינן עושות, שש מלאכות--מטחנת, ואופה, ומבשלת, ומכבסת, ומניקה, ונותנת תבן לפני בהמתו.


  3. Yitzchak - Thank you, and I am aware of the Rambam, as well as the original source in the Mishna in Kesubos nun tes amud beiz. My point still stands - true there are some household things the wife has to do, but the Mishna/Rambam list specific things, there is no catch all that makes the wife (or spouse, as I said, being gender-neutral and all) an absolute servant of the other, doing to most menial things.

    The Mishna/Rambam is assigning certain tasks that make the house function. But, the house can function with a dirty bathroom, trash piling up, etc. THAT is my point, your spouse has no halachic obligation to do every little thing, no matter how demeaning or personally disgusting. Yet, he/she often does these things out of the goodness of their heart because they love you.

    You shouldn't take their halachic observances for granted either, but even moreso (I think) the little things that can be very easily thought of as a given.

  4. Great post! I particularly liked when you wrote that gifts/gestures 'should be done with an attitude of wanting to give to your spouse rather than "Oh, I owe him/her one" '. Very true.

    Small editing note...I think the following: "Isn't it amazing? It certainly is, but don't you dare take it for granted," should have read "Isn't it amazing? It certainly is, AND don't you dare take it for granted." Just a thought. :)

    Also, for those of us readers who are curious but not so proficient in Hebrew, can you translate Yitzchak's source? Or if it takes too long to translate in full, can you at least list which are (as Rambam sees it) the halachic requirements of a wife in terms of household duties?

    And lastly: thank you!

  5. girl123 - thanks for the suggestion, but it still sounds correct in my ears. Basically, the second part acknowledges that this phenomena is amazing, and cautions that while you may realize how great it is - even with that realization don't take it for granted.

    I have done a rough translation of the copied selection from the Rambam and take responsibility for any mistakes therein. I think it's pretty accurate though:

    3) And similarly, every wife should wash her husband’s face, hands and feet, mix his cup for him, make his bed, stand and serve before her husband, also that she should give him water or a vessel or take [one of those] from him and things of that sort; but she doesn’t have to stand and serve his father, or his son. And these jobs (lit: melachos), she does them herself, even if she has many maidservants, only a wife can do them for her husband.

    4) There are other jobs (lit: melachos) that a wife does for her husband. When they are poor, they are: bake bread in the oven, and help set up so that the wife will rise early and bake so there will be bead found for the poor; she bakes, cleans clothes, nurses her child, places straw before his animals but not before cattle, and grinds [flour]. How does she grind? (it explains how to do it with a mill, etc)

    5) What are these words in reference to? When they are poor. But when he brings in one maidservant, or has sufficient possessions fitting enough to buy one maidservant, or he had a maidservant, or he has enough money to buy a maidservant – she [the wife] doesn’t grind, bake, clean, or put straw before the animals.

    6) If he brings in 2 maidservants (etc , etc – basically, when they can/do acquire 2 maidservants) she [the wife] doesn’t bake, does nurse her child, rather she gives the child to a maidservant to nurse.

    7) We find that all the jobs (lit. melachos) that a wife is supposed to do for her husband are five: 1) spin [wool, presumably], 2) wash his face, hands and feet, 3) mix his cup, 4) make the bed, and 5) stand before him to serve him. The jobs that some women do and some don’t do are six: 1) grinding [flour], 2) baking, 3) cooking, 4) laundering, 5)nursing, 6) placing straw before his animals.

    I think my point, as I made in my reply post to Yitzchak, still stands.

  6. R. Eliyahu Touger's translation is available here:


  7. Not quite yet... he describes the wife as cleaning and cooking and looking after him, but I'm still waiting to hear about him cleaning and cooking and looking after her...

  8. The husband is not generally obligated to clean and cook for his wife, but see ריטב"א כתובות סג. בענין אומר איני זן ואיני מפרנס:


    While we're on this general topic, see these two posts of mine:




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