Shalom bayit

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 6, 2009

Shlom bayit, the proper Hebrew pronunciation of shalom bayit, is a key concept in traditional Jewish marriage. Literally meaning peace or harmony in the home, it also refers to any practice or behaviour likely to promote those ends. You might say for example, We tried not to go out separately in the evenings during our first year of marriage for shlom bayit or, I had to give up mud-wrestling when I got married a shlom bayit issue. Shlom bayit is already prominent in rabbinic sources. A midrash marvels at the greatness of shlom bayit for the sake of which even God edited Sarahs words when he relayed them to Abraham. (Sarah had expressed surprise at the news that they would have a child, given that she and Abraham were so old. God tactfully omitted Sarahs reference to her husbands age when He spoke to him.) In the traditional Jewish world, shlom bayit is a project to be continuously worked on, not something to be taken for granted. There are classes and books full of good advice; compliment, praise or thank your spouse x times per day, dont contradict one another in public, talk things through but also push your powers of acceptance to the limit; dont make an issue of every annoying little difference of character, preference and habit; be nice to the in-laws but dont expect very much of them etc. These are things which may be blindingly obvious to old-timers but can save the marriage of young couples starting out.

    Last updated: 12:32pm, March 6 2009