December 14, 2018

Day 1575 – The Honor Due to My Wife

R’ Chelbo said: A person must always be careful about his wife’s honor, because blessing is found in a person’s house only on account of his wife. (Bava Metzia 59a)

Seven years ago I experienced a minor miracle when I stumbled upon the Daf Yomi way of reading the entire Talmud (see ” target=”_blank” title=””>, and Nina who has done most of the parenting while I’ve been working untold hours directing the movie. And it is Nina who keeps me grounded when I rush off on some creative or philosophical or intellectual… heck, any tangent will do for me. I’m an airy Gemini, she’s goal-oriented Sagittarius.

All of which is to say, I could not do what I do or be what I am without her. I don’t know why G-d has been so good to me, but I am profoundly grateful. In fact, I met Nina via minor miracle too.

New Year’s Eve, 1997. I was out with my buddies, getting a drink at El Coyote before attending some parties in the hills. I was waiting for a payphone (remember those?) and perched over a table where a beautiful gal was chatting with her friend. She was recently out of a relationship, reluctant to go out on New Years Eve, and only came because her friend insisted. I was smitten.

I barged in, and asked the ladies, “Are you going to a party tonight?”

“Yes,” said the friend.

“Well, you should come to the one my pals and I are going to – it’s going to be off the hook. Here’s the address.” Nina smiled.

Later, I was at the party. I’d been there for a couple of hours when I noticed Nina across the room, talking with some guy. I zoomed in, as if he wasn’t there.

“You came! I’m so glad…”

Nina and I discovered we have a million things in common, from screenwriting to Jewtino heritage.

Why was this a minor miracle? Because she didn’t come to the party on account of my invitation – she was going there anyway!

Nina is an amazing partner in every way. Sometimes we fight, because we’re passionate people who are staking everything on a creative venture. The pressure is pretty intense, and I make decisions all day: “Sal, should this shot be longer or shorter? More or less saturated? This take or that one? Music up-tempo or down? Lighting warmer or cooler? etc, etc.”

Then I get home, Nina asks a simple question like, “Thousand island or vinaigrette?” and I snap back, “Can’t you decide?”

At times like these, she’d be well within her rights to chew my head off. Recently, however, she sent me a beautiful excerpt from a book instead:

According to ancient esoteric thought, a wife is in effect the mirror of her husband – through her, he can see himself, his character traits, his strengths and weaknesses, and the like. Furthermore, the husband is like the sun and the wife is like the moon – she reflects his light. Accordingly, when she is short-tempered, he must rectify his problem with anger. When she is amiss in her responsibilities, he is most certainly faulty in fulfilling his obligations to G-d. (Garden of Emuna by Rabbi Shalom Arush)

In other words, never blame the lady of the house, because she knows best. As G-d told Abraham:

Whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice. (Genesis 21:12)

Rashi says we learn from this verse that Abraham was inferior to Sarah in prophecy. What?! Abraham is the greatest prophet in history! The whole Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic inheritance of the Western World springs from Abraham! According to G-d, however, Sarah knew better.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to pay special tribute to my partner in Torah, Talmud, parenting, life, and movies, Nina Davidovich Litvak. May we love forever.

Shabbat Shalom!

Sal shares a bit of Jewish wisdom at “>