Susan Barth
Marriage Education, Enrichment / Enhancement & Advocacy

Sage Marital Advice from Rabbi Aryeh Levin z”l

Today, the 9th  of Nisan is the 54th yahrzeit of Rabbi Aryeh Levin z”l. Known as The Father of the Prisoners due to his extraordinary devotion as chaplain of the Jerusalem Central Prison, Reb Aryeh was also known for his dedication  to his wife Hannah z”l (who pre- deceased him) and to matchmaking and promoting shalom bayit. In his book “A Tzaddik in Our Time”[1], author Rabbi Simcha Raz, provides insights into the magnanimous character of Reb Aryeh (as he is referred to by the author in the book) in his devotion to his own marriage and to pursuing shalom bayit for all Jewish couples.

Devotion to his Wife

From what is recorded from the words that Reb Aryeh wrote following the death of his beloved wife Hannah, one can see the devotion that he had for her and the relationship that they shared:

“In the name of the Lords:

My heart is in grief and my spirit mourns. For how shall I find consolation for my great misfortune when my greatest treasure, my crowning glory was taken from me?.. Who could ever describe her devotion and goodness? Another like her is hardly to be found – so pure of spirit with a heart as wide in generosity as the entrance to a palace…. Every moment of her existence was another stanza, another bar of melody in her song of eternity.”[2]

Two additional statements are attributable to Reb Aryeh demonstrating his devotion to his wife:

After her death, on one occasion that  Reb Aryeh was taking a taxicab to his home, Reb Aryeh did not answer the driver’s request for his destination in a direct way, because as he explained:

“You see, once my devout and pious wife died, my home just doesn’t exist anymore. Our sages spoke truly when they said that a man’s home is (in effect) his wife (Yoma 2a).[3]

And the most famous quote attributable to Reb Aryeh is included in the following reference:

The Talmud rules that “A man’s wife is as his own body.” Rabbi Aryeh Levine (d. 1969), known as “the Tzaddik of Jerusalem,” exemplified this ideal. On one occasion, when accompanying his wife to a Jerusalem clinic, he explained to the physician: “Doctor, (whose name was Dr. Nahum Kook) my wife’s foot is hurting us.[4]

Dedication to Matchmaking and Marriage and Harmony in the Home

In addition to all the other attributes of Reb Aryeh mentioned in his book A Tzaddik in Our Time, Rabbi Simcha Raz dedicates two chapters to the titles of “Of Matchmaking and Marriage” and “”For Harmony in the Home.”

To me the most poignant comments deal with the description of How to Treat a Wife. The book documents the reply of Reb Aryeh to the question of one of his students who was embarking on the path of marriage, which was “How should I behave toward my wife? How should I treat her?

Here is the reply: “How can you ask a question like that? A wife is like your own self. You treat her as you treat yourself.”

To a young Talmud scholar who was recently wed, the good rabbi gave this prescription: It is a mitzvah, a precept of the Torah that a man shall make his wife happy (Deuteronomy 24:5). How should he make her happy?

It is a woman’s nature to find pleasure in finding favor in her husband’s eyes. She looks to him, yearning to have him find her pleasing and charming.

It is therefore up to the husband to try to show his wife love and endearment by open affection, and by encouraging and pleasing conversation. This is the intent of the Divine wish upon the creation of the human being, that they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24). And our Sages teach that when there is peace and harmony between a man and his wife, the shechina (the Divine Presence) dwells with them.[5]

Additional Phrases of Significance for Marriage

The author cites additional quotes from Rabbi Levin which address the duty to treat the wife with respect and courtesy; never to treat her “impersonally” when a misunderstanding arises; and when he leaves the house, he should tell his wife where his is going and where he was upon his return. And all for the purpose of strengthening the bond between them and reinforcing their love and cheering the heart.

Serving as Counselor

One of the most understated roles which Reb Aryeh assumed was that of marriage counselor for couples whose marriages were torn apart with acrimony.

Reb Aryeh was known to see couples whose marriages were in jeopardy at midnight and later in order to preserve the dignity of the couples who were among the prominent and distinguished families in the city and to avoid any gossip as to the state of marital distress.

In this context, Reb Aryeh was like Aaron the Kohen who also was the ultimate marriage counselor par excellence. It is said that Reb Aryeh dedicated countless   hours to smoothing over the discord and succeeding in restoring peace and harmony with his wisdom and sincerity. He even went so far as to purchase gifts and give them to the spouse in the name of the husband or arrange for groceries for couples whose financial situation did not even allow for Shabbat meals.

To sum up the extent of his philosophy towards harmony in the house, Rabbi Raz writes the following:

“Not always was the good Rabbi successful; but he would never leave a conflict- laden home before he felt that he had done everything possible to bring harmony. And always he would plead, “Do me a favor – for my sake – make peace between yourselves![6]

A Lesson for Our Couples

In these challenging days, the potential for discord in our homes is unfortunately a reality. Reb Aryeh lived in the era of poverty and turmoil in our pre state era. He experienced such trauma even with the loss of some of his own children from hunger and starvation and he was a constant source of encouragement to couples whose husbands were sentenced to long prison terms for the underground heroism for our people.

So it is imperative that we take lessons from the saintly Reb Aryeh as to how to maximize harmony in our homes and achieve the ultimate shalom bayit for Am Yisrael.

Our amuta Together in Happiness likewise includes resources which relate to the preservation of shalom bayit. Our new website is dedicated to addressing couples and Partners and recommends a variety of ways for these respective groups to get involved in promoting marriage education as a vehicle for fostering healthy and happy marriages.

We invite you to peruse the new and upgraded website located at the URL:

Reb Aryeh was a premier marriage educator! whose devotion to the cause of marital harmony is a must study for preserving the survival of our people. The holiday of Passover is a perfect time for couples and families to celebrate our peoplehood and strengthen our unity and family stability.

Am Yisrael Chai and Chag Kasher v Sameah

[1] Simcha Raz, A Tzaddik in Our Time (Jerusalem, Feldheim Publishers, 1989), pages 52 -69, 142-155

[2] Ibid, pages 68 – 69

[3] Ibid, page 68


[5] Ibid, pages 150 – 151

[6] Ibid, page 155

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