Question:

In Deuteronomy 24:5, it is stated: "When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business; but he shall be free at home for one year, and make happy his wife."

While I make it my mission to make my wife happy, I have a job that keeps me busy and out of the house most of the day. What does it mean that I not be charged with any business and be free at home for one year?

Answer:

I guess you deserve a belated Mazel Tov if you're still before your first anniversary!

I looked into this subject back when I got married, and here's what I found. The idea behind this commandment is not that you should desist from living a normal life, including going to work and supporting your family — the Torah doesn't advocate going on welfare or otherwise putting yourself intentionally on the community's payroll...

What it does mean is that as a general rule, your wife is an extra special priority during the first year of married life together, when the bonds between the two of you are still being formed, and as such are more tenuous than say, those of a couple married for 25 years. This helps to strengthen the notion that you are hers and she is yours. That's why the Torah forbids a newly married man to go to war etc.

If at all possible, make a serious attempt at limiting the amount of time you must be away, and business travel which takes you away from home overnight should be curtailed to the extent possible. You don't have to follow your wife around 24/7, but try not to be away so much during this critical time.

Once you have set this foundation during this all-important year, these regulations are relaxed because the "mold" which will define your life together has been set, and will hopefully serve as a foundation for the rest of your lives.

I'm glad to hear that you make it your mission to make your wife happy. The world needs more men like you! Keep it up, and get everyone around you to do the same.

Click here for more about marital harmony and married life.

Rabbi Moshe Goldman for Chabad.org