By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

In this week’s parashah, Pharaoh calls the Jewish midwives and commands them to kill the Jewish baby boys as they are being born. “Vayomer melech Mitzrayim lamiyaldot haivriyos asher shem h’achat Shifra v’sheim hasheinet Puah” (Sh’mos 1:15): The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives–the name of the first was Shifra and the name of the second was Puah . . . Rashi explains that Shifra and Puah were in fact Yocheved, the mother of Moshe, and Miriam, the sister of Moshe. Rashi further explains that Yocheved was called Shifra because “shemishaperes es havlad,” she beautifies the baby at birth, and Miriam was called Puah “shemidaberes v’hogah lavlad,” because she cries and speaks and coos to the baby.

Rav Shimshon Pinkus explains that Yocheved and Miriam displayed tremendous sacrifice in risking their lives by defying Pharaoh’s wishes, in order to save Jewish babies. Yet they are referred to by names that describe the far less significant actions of beautifying and cooing to the baby after birth. He explains that the reason for calling them by these actions is that someone who not only performs big acts of greatness, but also remembers all the little details, displays an even higher level of greatness.

Often, in marriage, the great spouse is not the one who surprises their partner with a million-dollar birthday gift, but the one who constantly is giving on a daily basis. It’s the little things that make a person great, and it’s the back-and-forth of little things that make a marital relationship wonderful. It’s the cup of tea, the phone call to check in, the danish, the milk picked up, the flowers for Shabbos, the favorite supper prepared, the compliment, the encouragement . . . these are the things that build a great relationship. While each on its own seems like a little thing, it’s the consistency that causes them to add up to be big.

Each of us has our own role in the relationship. Yet, when we find the time to add in little nice touches, it’s a sign of greatness. When we add that cup of tea to the supper or bring that small gift in addition to the paycheck, it shows greatness. When both partners are focused not only on the big things that are their responsibilities, but also on the little details that show caring, it builds the relationship in a tremendous way.

Hashem should help us to emulate Yocheved and Miriam and achieve greatness in marriage and in life, by not only focusing on the big things but remembering to add in the nice little details too. May we merit the beautiful shalom bayis that comes when two partners express their caring for each other on a constant basis. 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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