By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

Parashas Devarim discusses some of the sins of the Jewish nation, from their exodus from Egypt until just before entering Israel. One of the topics discussed is the sin of the spies. In describing that tragic incident, Moshe explains that the idea appeared to be good to him when it was presented to him (Devarim 1:23).

Even though this incident was so tragic and had such devastating results for the Jewish nation, Moshe still acknowledged his part in the story. This is an unusual action for anyone, and in particular for a leader. Human nature is such that we tend to downplay our participation in any incident that didn’t turn out as we had planned. In general, the higher up on the totem pole a person is, the more he downplays his participation in any failed incident. Moshe was the leader of the entire Jewish nation and in speaking to the nation he readily acknowledges his part in the sin of the spies.

With these words, Moshe teaches us a tremendous lesson–a lesson of claiming responsibility and honesty. These are essential ingredients in a marriage relationship. There are many reasons why people are hesitant to accept responsibility when things don’t work out as they should. One of the most common is a fear of losing respect. However, the opposite is usually true–claiming responsibility for one’s actions leads to an increase in respect and trust. This is true not only in a leadership position, but in a marriage relationship as well.

Let us commit ourselves to following the example set by Moshe and acknowledging our part in situations that don’t work out. May we have the courage and strength to do what is right and not just be right. May our commitment to honesty enhance our relationships tremendously and increase respect and trust between us and our spouses. Ï–

Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00—11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail


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