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Thought for the Day: Shalom Bayis Is Really Important... No, I Mean Really Important

To avoid violating a lo sa'asei (negative commandment), one would be required to spend as much as is required.  Matza during Pesach is very expensive, but you can't substitute bread even if it means declaring bankruptcy.  To fulfill a positive commandment, on the other hand, you are only required to spend up to 20% of your worth.  If a person absolutely can't afford even t'fillin, for example, then you give that up.  The expression is "oneis rachmana patrei" -- if you can't, you can't (free translation).  There is not even a requirement to go around collecting to raise the funds to buy the t'fillin; if you can't you can't, finished.
Except one: chanuka candles.  Pirsuma nisa (publicizing the miracle) and hakaras hatov (acknowledging the good) are so important that one is obligated to go collecting, sell his shirt, even rent himself out -- whatever it takes -- to buy chanuka candles.  (One for each night is sufficient if one is in such dire straits, however.)  That's interesting, no?  wine for kiddush and havdala, tzitzis, even t'fillin, ... if you can't, you can't.  Chanuka candles, just do it.  Lots to say about that, but not today.  Today is about an even bigger surprise.

Suppose one only has resources to buy either shabbos candles or chanuka candles.  Guess which wins.  Of course, since I am asking the question after all this set up, the answer is obviously shabbos candles.  Isn't that wild?  Not enough money for t'fillin; patur.  Not enough money for chanuka candles; go get some.  Shabbos candles, though, trump even chanuka candles.  Why?  Shalom bayis.  Chazal were worried that if there was no light in the house that people could come to trip, and then they could come to argue.  Shalom bayis trumps all.

The mishna at the end of uktzin says that HaKadosh Baruch Hu could not find a more suitable vessel to hold bracha than shalom.  Have you ever wondered how you can ask for shalom at the end of shmone esrei?  If you haven't, you should have.  The last three brachos are ho'da'a (thanks/acknowledgement), not bakasha (request).  One is not even permitted to ask for anything in those last three brachos (nor the first three, for that matter).  Yet the very last bracha says, "Give (Lots of) Shalom to Your nation Yisrael."  Shalom is not a new request.  Shalom is the container in which all our requests are contained.

That last bracha is, therefore, not a request, but a big thank you that besides all the brachos that HaShem bestows on us each day and each moment, He also gives us a suitable container to make sure we get to keep all those brachos.  HaShem is very, very good to us.

(I saw this in a Shabbos ha'Gadol drash given by R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tzl; recorded in the milu'im of Halichos Shlomo.)

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