Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can You Take a Joke? by Rabbi Moss

Question of the Week:
My wife has no sense of humour. She says I make fun of her in public (and she's always happy to tell me just how bad I am - even in public). Shouldn't she be able to take a joke?

Answer:
Jokes are serious. The line between a friendly jibe and a humiliating stab is often a fine one. You have to question whether the laugh you may get is worth the pain you may inflict. But between husband and wife, humiliation is simply criminal. It goes against everything that a marriage is supposed to be: an exclusive oneness.

In the Jewish wedding ceremony, after standing under the Chuppa, the bride and groom are taken to a private room, known as the Yichud room. Yichud means oneness and exclusivity. By entering this room, a secluded place where no one is present but the couple, they create a sacred space that is theirs and theirs alone. 

The newlyweds leave the Yichud room after a few minutes, but in a way they should never leave it. The privacy and oneness of the Yichud room must be taken with them in their marriage. The relationship between husband and wife is a sacred and secluded place, and should stay that way. Any word or action that jeopardises the privacy and unity of a marriage must be erased from our repertoire.

When you make fun of your wife in front of your friends, you have momentarily stepped out of the Yichud room. You have abandoned your soul-partner, leaving her alone and isolated just for a few cheap laughs. To make a joke is fine, but never at the expense of your oneness.

When your wife publicly criticises you, she has allowed strangers into the Yichud room. She is inviting others into a moment that should only be between the two of you. There is a time and a place for criticism in a relationship, but not in the presence of others.

These mistakes are so common that to many they have become acceptable. But it is these little things that can erode a good marriage. For a relationship to thrive it must always remain an exclusive oneness. Once you get comfortable in the Yichud room, you'll never want to leave.

No comments:

Post a Comment