This week's parsha
Make Them or Break Them - A Woman's Decision
One of them was brilliant, wealthy, holy, possessed impressive pedigree, and belonged to Moses' inner circle. The other was run-of-the-mill, with little to show for himself.
The first would die; the second would live.
Both because of the same reason: their wife's counsel.
Korach, prestigious great-grandson of Levi the son of Jacob, was spurred to rebel against Cousin Moses by his worse-half, who stoked his ego and stirred his lust for power. In the end they were both buried alive.
Conversely, On the son of Pelet, a "regular nobody," survived the rebellion to tell his tale. He had his wife to thank for his new lease on life.
According to a Talmudic account, Mrs. On was not excited by her husband's involvement with the revolt. But his imagination had been captured by the smarter man, and there was little chance for its retrieval.
It was the night before the ultimate showdown when she finally succeeded in persuading her husband to disaffiliate from the rabble-rousers. "What's in it for you?" she wisely explained. "Whether Korach or Moses will end up as the leader, you will still remain a subject..."
But On lacked courage. "What will I say to my buddies when they come to pick me up in the morning?" he wailed.
On's wife did what any devoted better-half would do -- she reassured him that she would take care of the situation. She then neutralized her husband (thank G‑d for the bottle!) as zero-hour approached. His initial surprise at his wife's newfound romance with alcohol quickly faded into zzz's.
When On's friends came by to pick him up for the great face-off, they were accosted by his drunken snores.
The intentional compromised modesty of On's wife and daughter sitting outside their tent deterred them from investigating further.
The last thing they heard from their inebriated friend was the sound of his heavy breathing, unintelligibly saying: "My friends, you should have married better."
Home Builders or Home Wreckers?
This is not a new phenomenon.
Since the Eve of creation, women were given the power to either make or break their men.
"G‑d said: It's not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper 'k'negdo.'"
According to the Talmud, the word k'negdo can mean either of two things: "alongside him" or "against him."
Solomon later poeticized these words when he said: "A wise woman builds her house; a foolish one destroys it with her hands."
Note that in Judaism both the home and the man are in the woman's hands.
It is perhaps for this reason that she is endowed with more inner perception and intuition than her male counterpart; in order to help guide her loved ones along the right path.
In fact, and this is telling, there was one solitary time that G‑d chose to get involved in a human marital dispute, one between Abraham and Sarah. His advice, whether one-off or for all of time (a point of contention between genders ever since), was unequivocal: "Whatever Sarah tells you, heed her voice…"
I shudder to imagine what our nation would look like today if we hadn't broken from Ishmael long ago due to Sarah's wise insistence.
And I tremble to picture a world in which Isaac's colossal blessings and powers are in the possession of men like Esau - the inevitable scenario Rebecca aborted through her perception and initiative.
And on a more positive note:
The Rebbe adds a lovely spin to the proverb: "Who is a good ('kosher') woman? She who does ('osah') her husband's will."
The feminist in me is up in arms.
But osah can also mean to rectify or create. Hence: "Who is a good woman? She who creates her husband's will."