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A Bouquet of Roses

A Bouquet of Roses

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Like most women, I love flowers.

My favorite is a dozen or more long-stemmed, freshly cut red roses. But a bouquet of any brilliant assortment—whether orchids, petunias or birds of paradise—will always bring a smile to my face.

My husband knows of this weakness of mine. He uses it to his advantage whenever he wants to win my heart or gain forgiveness for any of the misdeeds that husbands are so well known for.

The other evening, as my husband was heading out the front door, I reminded him of his promise to be back promptly at 7:30. I was teaching a class at 8 o’clock, and had some errands to take care of beforehand. I impressed upon him the need for me to leave on time, as I urged him not to lose sight of his watch or become sidetracked.

At exactly 7:31, I was waiting impatiently by the front door, peering down the block for our gray van. By 7:45 I was pacing frantically up and down my front corridor nervously eyeing the clock, and by 7:53, when my husband finally sauntered up our front steps, I could barely contain myself.

Thrusting an exquisite bouquet into my arms, he announced that he had passed a stand selling especially beautiful flowers. Proudly he explained that, knowing how much I love flowers, he decided to stop and was “a little” delayed in the process.

Had I not been as rushed as I was, I would have found my tongue and, contrary to my husband’s perception, would have expressed just how enraged I was. Instead, I wordlessly grabbed the keys, dumped the flowers and stormed out the door.

Shelving my plans for any errands, and running a few stop signs along the way, I arrived at my lecture, nerves ravaged, just in the nick of time.

After a few moments, I calmed down and could actually teach. The many participants were, as usual, women from a wide variety of backgrounds exploring their spirituality via the teachings of Torah and Chassidism.

As the class came to its conclusion, one student, Diane, asked why organized religion was so vital. “Why not just feel G‑d in our hearts? After all, what is the need for all the dos and don’ts of Judaism?”

I thought for a moment. Suddenly, the analogy struck me.

I relayed to the women the evening’s events prior to my arrival at the class. I asked if they thought I was justified in being upset with my husband’s purchase.

As sister women, I was certain of their response. Of course, they thought such behavior was completely uncalled for.

“But why?” I questioned. “What was wrong with him doing something he thought I would like?”

“You told him that you needed him home on time, and he totally disregarded that. He was too self-absorbed to understand your perspective, your need to be on time. He just doesn’t get it.” Diane articulated what some of the others were thinking.

“Yes, but he came late in order to buy me a present. Doesn’t that prove his love?” I was playing devil’s advocate.

Diane was insistent. “True, he wanted to please you. But on his terms, not yours. He was disregarding your explicit wish and need in order to do something that he imagined you would enjoy.”

“I guess that is what Torah is all about,” I said. “G‑d tells us His terms—what He needs from our relationship. Sure, we can then bypass His wishes—and even do something wonderful and benevolent. We may even have Him in mind. But ultimately, isn’t that acting on our own terms, disregarding His? We may not always understand His needs or wants. But Torah is G‑d’s explicit communication with us, telling us, ‘This is what I need; this is what is important for Me. This is what you can do to have a relationship with Me. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you understand, maybe you don’t; but this is what I want you to do.’”


When I came home later that evening, the roses were adeptly arranged in a crystal vase on the kitchen table. At the foot of the vase lay a small card.

It was a sincere apology note.

I guess even husbands sometimes do get it.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Robin USA September 24, 2016

I like your ideas of roses and I am also a flower lover. Thanks for your great post. It has very useful tips for me. Reply

Anonymous Long Beach, CA July 27, 2013

But on His terms, not yours I was never a married woman yet I understand this, sometimes painfully so. I made quite a few mistakes in my life because I wanted life on my own terms without fully understanding the consequences. I got fed up with trying to please other people and focus on pleasing myself and still made a mess of it. Forgiving other people is one thing, but to forgive yourself is quite the undertaking. I am thankful to HaShem for getting through it all that I now have healthy relationships with Him, people and with myself. Reply

olga new york July 23, 2013

comforting Thank you for being so real and letting the walls down. I guess this happens in the best of families, that's reassuring! By the way, you handled it beautifully and your husband is one smart man turning lemons into lemonade...happily ever after Reply

David Levant Emerson.N.J. July 23, 2013

Weaknesses Time is more important than money or flowers. Reply

Anonymous M., Ma. November 1, 2010

the drawing by Sarah Krantz The drawing of the very large woman with a small, i assume, not thinking head looking at a wilted rose speaks alot. It is like the fragrance of the rose makes us not think rationally and we are big in our ego or body to let it dissuade us from making the best of life without them. Do women want flowers really ever in any circumstance to change our minds or moods? Or are there more important ways to overcome these issues. In this story the flowers and roses did not change the mind from the importance of being on time.My question is what is the purpose of flowers ever? Reply

Marcia Naomi Berger. LCSW San Rafael, CA April 27, 2010

A bouquet of roses Thank you! Beautifully written. This article hits home for many, especially about the difference between a husband do his wife says she wants versus what he decides should happen. I like the your honesty and sharing. This is life. In a fulfilling marriage we grow as we try to understand and to feel understood. I like the parallel about the importance of doing it G-d's way versus our ego controlled way. Reply

Anonymous morristown, nj January 9, 2006

thank you thank you Reply

Anonymous January 6, 2006

What an incredible article! And what an incredible parable! It is wonderful how Mrs. Weisberg is so in tune with what is going on around her, and can always make the connections with Judaism and Torah. Thank you!!! Reply

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