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What is the Reason: Marriage

Why does the Talmud say that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah consulted his wife before accepting the position of Nasi – Prince of the Sanhedrin? If the greatest Sages of Israel felt that he was the best qualified for the position was he not obligated to accept the job? Isn’t his responsibility to the nation more important than his obligation to his wife? M. A.

Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz in the Ya’arot Devash #18 explains that R’ Elazar, in his current position as a Torah scholar, was obligated to spend one night a week with his wife. A Nasi, however, is only obligated to spend one night a month. R’ Elazar would have diminished his wife’s Ona – Marital Obligation – which this week’s portion teaches one may not diminish. A person, about to assume, what was at the time, the most prominent position in the Jewish world, cannot set an example of breaking Halacha, or of hurting his wife. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva of REITS once showed a Teshuva to me (which I am embarrassed to say I forgot which Responsum) that explained that a husband may not accept a job which will lessen his time with his wife without her permission. Ona – commonly translated as Intimacy, actually means time, her, his wife’s time. A husband must spend quality time with his wife. He must ask his wife’s permission to take a new job that will prevent him from spending more time with her.

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