Susan Barth
Marriage Education, Enrichment / Enhancement & Advocacy

Remembering 3 Giants and The Pursuit of Peace

The cause of Shalom Bayit (“Peace in the Home”) was given a boost  this week as epitomized by the remembrance  of the anniversary of the deaths of three of the most prominent leaders of our heritage – the illustrious siblings of Moses – Miriam and Aaron and the death of the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l. Each of these Torah giants can be credited with significant contributions to preserving our heritage in the realm of shalom bayit.  The legacy of each is the subject of this tribute.

The mention of the deaths of Miriam and Aaron is chronicled in the Torah portion of Chukat which is read this week in Eretz Yisrael and next week outside of Israel. Each was committed in their own unique manner to the preservation of shalom bayit.

Miriam – the marriage re- “Matchmaker”

In the Torah portion of Chukat, what stands out is the fast forward time leap that is mentioned which jumps over the forty year wanderings to the mention of the death of Miriam. Considered a prophetess and in whose merit the nation had water for forty years to drink from a well, a lesser known role is that of being a “re – matchmaker” which actually led to the birth of Moses.

As I wrote in a blog entitled, A Child’s Marriage Advice that Saved our Nation, I cite the Torah portion Shemot and Gemara Tractate Sotah 12a as references for how five year old Miriam convinced her father Amram to re-marry his wife Yochevet after he divorced his wife (and convinced others to do so) in response to the decree by Pharaoh to throw the newborn sons into the river.

Not only did Miriam’s intercession in reversing the divorce result in the birth of Moses, but also she and her brave mother saved the lives of countless number of Hebrew babies in their capacity as midwives in defiance of the decree of Pharaoh.

Aaron the Peacemaker

Besides his full time position as high priest, he had another positon of prominence – as a “pursuer of peace,” a marriage counselor par excellence.  According to the commentator Rashi, All of house of Israel mourned the death of Aaron because he was a pursuer of peace and would bring love between a husband and his wife. He personified the ultimate Marriage counselor as he went to extraordinary lengths to restore shalom bayit even with the use of the technique of “white lies” if it accomplished the objective. He would approach the respective spouse indicating how much the partner wanted to reconcile and credited with preventing possible divorces among the couple.

It is notable that even Moses did not merit the degree of mourning by both men and women – and that is the significance which his marriage counseling produced!

Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l

Yesterday, the third of Tamuz, marked the 29th anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l, an occasion which was commemorated with thousands of visitors to his Ohel resting place and gatherings around the world to speak about his legacies and teachings.

The Rebbe was prolific in his writings and talks on the subject on Shalom bayit. An example of his writings is the statement that “Peace in the home is a critical element in Jewish life. The morning prayers extol bringing peace between husband and wife as one of the few mitzvahs from which a person can benefit in this world and the next. Indeed, marital accord is so precious to G-d that he commanded “Erase my name for the sake of harmony in the home.” (Talmud, Hullin 141a).[1]

The Rebbe’s sentiment on a couple is cited in the blog entitled “A Wedding Celebration and Lessons for Eternity”. I quote the Rebbe’s definition of husband and wife as follows:

“Husband and wife constitute a single entity, sharing a single soul; it is only that G‑d desired that for a certain portion of its life on earth the soul should dwell in two separate bodies, and that each half should perform its mission in life separately, until such time that G‑d unites them in marriage.”

“This explains the tremendous joy that accompanies a marriage—joy which has no parallel in any other joyful occasion. Two half-souls, separated at birth and raised in different homes, different communities, perhaps even different countries, are being reunited by the power of ‘He who sits and matches couples.’ What greater joy can there be?”

In a letter sent to a newlywed couple on January 11, 1978, the Rebbe also shared his vision of marriage:

“As you know, a Jewish marriage is called a Binyan adei-ad, “an everlasting edifice.” It means that the Jewish home and married life must be built and structured on the foundations of the Torah and Mitzvos, as emphasized by our Sages, whose saintliness was matched by their true wisdom.”


What Can WE Learn From these Giants?

These Giants showed by example what importance they attributed to the institution of marriage.  Each in their own significant manner demonstrated that action is critical to preserving our nation. And the giants have also sent a strong message of EMPOWERMENT – that we too can take action for ensuring our survival.

As I said in my opening remarks at the Knesset Seminar on Pre marriage Education, “I am deeply indebted to the wisdom and teachings of the Lubavitch Rebbe z”l whose advice for the welfare of the family is legendary. I have been consistently inspired by the Rebbe to pursue the pivotal and social needs of cementing our family units.” The link to the speech is as follows:

The form that the Rebbe’s inspiration has taken for me is to promote marriage education as a preventative means of ensuring healthy and happy marriages. This is distinct from therapy and has proven to be a major industry in the United States and other Western countries. Our non profit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher has been a leader in the elevation of marriage education as a force for supporting happy and healthy marriages and has published The Case for Marriage Education detailing the significance of marriage education.

 Start with Shabbat and Date Nights

What these giants showed is that no action is too small and only requires a commitment to actualize the principles of peace. One starting point is to use Shabbat as a catalyst for building shalom bayit. Sitting down at the Shabbat table and using it as a bonding opportunity can send a powerful message of commitment to yourselves and our heritage.

Even taking the time to designate a Date Night for turning off the phones and giving undivided attention to a spouse has proven to be a major source for enhanced communication and harmony.

The main point is to put the priority and spotlight on the values espoused by the Giants and then you are carrying their legacy in a ripple effect for perpetuity. We owe this to the Giants and OURSELVES as a nation.

Shabbat shalom






[1] Dovid Zaklikowski, The Edifice Dating, Marriage and an Everlasting Home (Hasidic Archives, 2019), p 67

About the Author
Susan (Sarah) Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli and English speaking countries' societies. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education