We have mentioned that one must take great care not to hurt any human being, especially one’s family and the members of one’s household. It is quoted in the name of the great Chazon Ish, Hagaon Harav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz zt”l, that one’s primary success in this world is making it through life without having hurt anyone wrongfully.
Indeed, if one behaves with wisdom, understanding, and manners, in general, others will treat him nicely as well, as our Sages taught, “Who is the respected one? One who respects others.”
An incident is recorded in Masechet Derech Eretz Rabba (Chapter 6) where Hillel the Elder invited a guest to his home. Hillel and the guest sat there for some time but his wife did not serve anything to eat or drink. Only after a long while did Hillel’s wife serve them lunch. Later, Hillel asked his wife, “Why did you not serve the guest his meal immediately?” His wife replied, “A poor man knocked on the door and told me that he was getting married today and had nothing for the feast so I immediately took the entire meal I cooked for the family and gave it to him. Only then did I bake some more bread and cook some more food and finally come to serve you.” Hillel the told her, “My daughter, I also judged you favorably, for I know that everything you do is for the sake of Heaven!”
Another incident once occurred with an evil man and his righteous wife. Although the wife was a fine and decent woman, the husband would find faults in his wife all the time and fight with her every day until he completely despised her and wished for her to die so that he could then marry another woman. He turned to the city’s Rav and told him, “Rabbi, my wife is the most awful woman around. Are you aware of any Segulah that can help remove her from my life?” The Rav replied wisely, “Our Sages teach us that the sin of transgressing one’s vows can cause the members of one’s household to die. I therefore advise you to go to the synagogue this coming Yom Kippur and purchase the opening of the Ark of ‘Kol Nidrei’ for whatever the price and then do not pay your dues to the synagogue and then you shall merit that your wife will die!”
This wicked man heeded the Rav’s and arrived at the synagogue on Yom Kippur. Although many people were interested in purchasing this great honor, this man kept on raising his bid under he finally won the opening of the Ark of “Kol Nidrei” for a cool twenty-thousand dollars!
After Yom Kippur, this man did not pay his pledge to the synagogue and waited day by day for the moment that his wife would pass on, as the Rav promised. Three weeks later, the man came before the Rav and exclaimed, “I followed the Rav’s advice and the Segulah did not work at all as my wife is still alive and well!” The Rav replied, “Worry not, your wife’s days are numbered. I two weeks she shall pass away. However, listen to me and for her remaining days on this earth, treat your wife very nicely so that you will not have a guilty conscience after she is gone.” This man once again took the Rav’s advice and he truly began treating his wife nicely, with dignity and respect.
Ten days later, this man came to the Rav and told him worriedly, “Honored Rabbi, from the day I started treating my wife nicely, I have come to realize that she really is a good and righteous woman. I am now very scared to lose her as she is so precious to me. What shall I do?” The Rav replied, “Quickly pay the synagogue what you have pledged so that you may continue living with your righteous wife for many more years to come!”