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A Wife’s Comforting Tone

A Wife’s Comforting Tone

The Wife of Mar Ukva

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Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

The sage Mar Ukva lived during the first generation of Amoraim, and served as the reish galuta (lit. “Head of the Exile”). A certain pauper resided in his neighborhood, and every day Mar Ukva slipped four coins under the pauper’s door. One day, the pauper decided to find out who was doing this kind act. That day, Mar Ukva’s wife accompanied him to the study hall, and on the way they stopped by the pauper’s door. As soon as the pauper saw that people were approaching his door to slip the coins underneath, he ran out after them, and Mar Ukva and his wife ran away from him to keep their identity a secret.

They found a place to hide—the large communal oven, which was still burning hot. Mar Ukva’s feet were becoming burned, but his wife’s feet were not affected. His wife said to him, “Take your feet and place them upon my feet.” Mar Ukva felt dejected; he saw that he was less worthy than his wife. Seeking to put him at ease, his wife said to him comfortingly, “I am generally present in the house, where I’m more accessible to the paupers. Also, the paupers’ benefit is immediate because I give them prepared foods” (Talmud, Ketubot 67b).

With her humble words, she brought comfort to her husband.

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