By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

This week, we read Parashas Beshalach, and there is a special name given to this Shabbos, “Shabbos Shirah.” The parashah describes how the Jews were commanded to gather a double portion of manna on Friday since none would fall on Shabbos. The parashah continues to state, “Vayhi ba’yom ha’shevi’i yatz’u min ha’am lilkot, v’lo matza’u,” on the seventh day, some of the people went forth to gather, but they found none (Sh’mos 16:27).

The commentators explain that those who went forth to gather on that Shabbos did it with evil intentions. They had scattered manna in the night, intending to gather it in the morning and show the nation that Moshe was wrong and manna would fall on Shabbos. However, when they went to collect the manna, there was none to be found, for birds had come and taken it away. The birds are therefore deserving of a reward, which is granted to them on this Shabbos when we recount their righteousness. There is a custom this week to put out bird food before Shabbos as a way of rewarding the birds for their actions in the desert. (Sefer Todah on the month of Shevat.)

A question was posed regarding this custom. By eating up the manna that was scattered, the birds ended up doing a great action. However, the birds didn’t actually do anything outside of their nature. Birds always eat food from the ground. Even so, we reward them for their actions. There is a tremendous lesson in gratitude that we can learn from this. Even when someone is doing something he is “supposed to do,” he is deserving of thanks.

This lesson is particularly important in marriage. Married couples, particularly when they have been married for a long time, fall into a routine, and various activities are considered the “jobs” of one spouse or another. Often spouses don’t even thank one another for doing these jobs because it’s something that they are “supposed to do” and therefore not deserving of notice or appreciation. However, we all like our efforts to be noticed and we feel good when our actions are appreciated.

The lesson we can take from Shabbos Shirah is to occasionally express gratitude to our spouses even for those things that they are “supposed to do.” Let us each try this Shabbos to pick one thing our spouse does on a regular basis and acknowledge it and the effort it involves, thanking them for doing it. May this expression of gratitude help us come closer to our spouses and grow together as couples. v

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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