Not long ago I decided to stop off at one of London’s major shopping malls to buy a gift for my wife. I was not looking for anything fancy, just something small but special. My search took me into a variety of shops with all types of novelty gifts for all types of relationships but I could not find a gift specially designed for wives. Now I may be reading too much into this, but I got the impression that while it may be cool to be someone’s girlfriend or partner, getting married and becoming a wife is no longer deemed respectable by popular culture.
Marriage is portrayed by our culture as boring and monotonousThis is underlined by the endless portrayal in television shows and movies of married women. They are either shown as bored, miserable and trapped or as enjoying life by committing adultery. Rarely are married women depicted, in popular culture, as happy, fulfilled and faithful. It seems that marriage for a woman is seen as anything but cool or exciting — tragically it is portrayed by our culture as boring and monotonous. Unsurprisingly, Judaism and the Kabbalah see this in the precise opposite manner.
The proverb reads, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband” (Proverbs 12:4). The traditional explanation of this proverb is that a virtuous woman enhances her husband’s standing with her good deeds. However, the Kabbalists give another explanation. They say that what the proverb means is that a virtuous woman is greater than her husband – and because she is greater, she enhances him. The Kabbalists see this in spiritual terms. They maintain that the female has a sublime, spiritual antecedent which is far greater than that of the male. This lofty spiritual forbear is not totally revealed until the female unites with her spouse; it is then that her true spiritual potential is unleashed.
Thus, because the man and woman are seen as two halves of one whole, both male and female need each other to reach the telos of their individual existence. So the male is like the key that unlocks the tremendously potent and lofty spiritual energy found within the female. When this energy is set free, the woman becomes perceptibly spiritually greater than her husband. This in turn, by mere association, enhances the spirituality of her spouse and makes him a better person.
The Kabbalists maintain that everything that is manifest in the physical world is a mirror image of what transpires in the higher spiritual realms. Thus, this concept of superior female spiritual energy parallels the greater sexual potential of the female versus that of the male.
The Kabbalists hold the wife in very high esteemIt is clear that wives have a very important role to play in a marriage, which is supposed to include inspiring her spouse. The Kabbalists hold the wife in very high esteem, revering her as the partner with the higher spiritual potential, which she harnesses to change the world bit by bit.
Even the law recognizes the positive impact a wife has on her husband. A court recently awarded a footballer’s wife more than a third of her ex-husband’s future income in recognition of the positive influence she had on his life and therefore on his earning capability. There is no doubt that a good woman – more so, dare I say, than a good man – immeasurably enhances the lives of all who come into contact with her, especially her husband and family.
Functional families are the building blocks of decent societies. In order for a family to remain functional, the women’s positive and calming influence is vital. Unfortunately it is not only the media that pokes fun at the idea of getting married; to my dismay, I recently read an article by a religious leader containing a joke that demeaned the institution of marriage. Among all this negativity, the voice of truth must be heard: getting married and bringing up a stable and functional family are not only respectable and praiseworthy but are vital for the future health of humanity as a whole. We must all do our bit to champion the positive and combat the negative in this area.