Flesh of my Flesh

Kli Yakar Leviticus:Emor

Flesh of my Flesh 

“May the gods grant you all things which your heart desires,

and may they give you a husband and a home and gracious concord,

for there is nothing greater and better than this

– when a husband and wife keep a household in oneness of mind,

a great woe to their enemies and joy to their friends, and win high renown.”

Homer (800 BC – 700 BC), The Odyssey


Priests of the Jewish nation (Kohanim) are prohibited from approaching the dead. Whether in a hospital, a cemetery or even for the burial ceremony, Kohanim are only allowed to come in contact with the deceased from a short list of immediate family members. At the top of that list is the wife.

The Kli Yakar (Leviticus 21:2) explains both the strange formulation for wife (‘sheero hakarov’) and why she’s first. He states that while the husband may be the classical breadwinner, the wife is the one who turns grain into food and threads into clothes.  

The term ‘sheero hakarov’ indicates this proximity, that according to Rabbinic dictum, the wife is as his own body (‘ishto kegufo’). The Kli Yakar explains that in a smoothly operating household the wife is the one who “brightens his eyes and stands him on his feet.”

May we men be appreciative of our wives (or for those still looking, may you find them soon) for their endless toil on our behalf, and may the wives (and those soon to be) forgive the masculine tendency to seem oblivious to so many things. 

Shabbat Shalom,



To who else? To our wives.

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