Family Matters

A great Rav said: Jews have a tendency to take upon themselves all sorts of stringencies, but the essence is to be strict about loving your spouse. In fact, the Arizal said that the main fulfillment of the verse "Love your fellow as yourself" is between husband and wife. This verse is brought numerous times in the Gemara, and the majority of them are in connection to a husband and wife. Certainly "the friend of a person" - with the definitive - is one's spouse. Before a person does kindnesses for the rest of the world, he is obligated to do good for his spouse. Everyone knows the halachic principle in the laws of Tzedakah: the poor of your city take precedence over the poor of another city. And the members of your family take precedence over the members of other families. And above all, one's spouse takes precedence over everyone else. This is the fundamental ethical obligation of a person. The fulfillment of this requirement should appear naturally and not in the category of a give and take, because the two of you have turned into one. Therefore, when a person gives to his spouse, he feels as if he is giving to himself. But on account of people's egos, this natural characteristic becomes distorted or is lacking, we must therefore support it with the aid of a deep, ethical recognition: your spouse takes precedence over the rest of humanity, and being strict in this mitzvah takes precedence over all other strictures.