CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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How should I react to my mother-in-law who said that my gown, which I made myself, is ugly and made of cheap material? 

A poor man, who printed wedding invitations for a living, told me that his future son-in-law remarked, “It’s not raised lettering. It’s cheap. It’s not raised lettering; it’s just black ink.” This poor man was very hurt by his son-in-law’s criticism.

He called me and asked how he should react.

I replied, “You know how to react? By not reacting! It’s a glorious opportunity.”

We say it every day in Shemonah Esreh – “…and those who make light of me, let my soul be silent; let my soul be like dust to everybody.

You know what a glorious opportunity it is when somebody hurts you and you don’t react, and you “swallow it down”? Hakadosh Baruch Hu is going to give you such perfection of character. He’ll give you happiness in this world. Great reward awaits people who keep their mouths shut. The Gemara teaches that Hashem “hangs the world” in the merit of the one who keeps his mouth shut at the time when there’s a quarrel, instead of answering back.

Incidentally, this is also beneficial for your health. Many times, you suddenly hear of somebody who passed away, and you wonder, “Is that so? Was he sick? Wasn’t he healthy?” People don’t realize that he died because of the fight with his wife. That’s not in the obituary; it’s not mentioned. During the fight with his wife, he died. Most cases of strokes caused by excitement are the result of domestic fights. He said something and his wife couldn’t take it. He had a fit and his wife couldn’t take it.

I know a man who used to intentionally torment his wife, and she passed away. On her deathbed, he came to her and asked her for forgiveness. She said she couldn’t forgive him. And I don’t blame her. He was a devil. A “frum” devil; an Orthodox devil. And there are women who have killed their husbands; not with a gun, not with weapons, but with their mouths. Of course, when she comes to collect the insurance, nothing is said about that. She’s dressed in black, and she’s weeping. But she killed him. What’s she weeping about?! He didn’t take out a big enough insurance for me! That’s why she’s weeping!

The people who keep quiet are wise people. A bank manager, even if he’s insulted, keeps quiet. But if you walk outside the manager’s office and watch the janitor, you’ll see him get angry even if you look at him funny. That’s why he’s a janitor. You have to learn how to take it.

Therefore, what should you say to your mother-in-law? Erase it – not only from your mouth, but from your memory! And that’s being smart. If you’re going to keep on thinking about it, it’s has veshalom (Gd forbid) a sore; a sore on the lungs, a sore on the liver, a sore on the stomach. Someday, it could erupt suddenly and make a big tragedy, has veshalom. And therefore, you are a wise and prudent person if you erase it entirely from your mind.

Question and Answer supplied by (TAPE # 555). Answer is taken directly from the words of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l. However, it has been slightly edited to allow for easier reading.