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48 Ways to Shalom Bayis -a Book Review

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Roy Neuberger has penned an important and eminently readable book on the topic of Shalom Bayis.  He has provided newlywed couples as well as longer-wed couples with 48 tools to improve their marriages and/or fix problems.   His down to earth style and refreshing honesty combined with Torah insights make for some very powerful strategies.

This book is ideal reading during the Days of Sefira, as it is comprised of an introduction plus 48 short chapters, which can be read one per day. The chapters are based upon the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (6:6) which both Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and the Maharal zt”l write were crucial to Klal Yisroel’s transformation from the lowest level of ruchnius to become the Dor De’ah – the greatest generation that ever lived.

Rav Yaakov Hillel shlita, Rav Naftali Jaeger shlita and Rav Yaakov Bender shlita have written enthusiastic haskamas for this work.

Mr. Neuberger provides a number of tools for dealing with the trait of anger, which he describes as being devastating to Shalom Bayis.  He advises us to keep in mind that Hashem says: I created the Yetzer Hara (including anger) and I created Torah as the cure. The word used for “cure,” (tavlin), actually means “spice.” The Torah cure acts as a spice, making the marriage so much better.  This thought in itself has a remarkable effect on improving marriages.

Mr. Neuberger highlights the importance of listening attentively to one’s spouse. Are we focused on the person in front of our eyes? This is crucial in general, and especially in a marriage. In this chapter we realize that the mere act of listening with no agenda is integral to a good marriage.  The Mishna refers to Torah, but if we likewise make the decision to give our spouse 100 percent attention, we will have 100 percent dividends.

In the chapter on intuitive understanding, the author adjures us to pick up on the thoughts of our spouse. He or she doesn’t have to tell you. You should know without being told. “My wife says that she can tell my mood by looking at me even from behind. Body language is very expressive.”

Mr. Neuberger suggests: “Put away your cell phone. Forget the texts and emails. You are with your spouse. When Moshiach comes, I am convinced that all cell phones will be gone forever. They have destroyed our culture. Even young children are obsessed with them. Their mind is enslaved to cartoon figures killing each other on the screen. They have forgotten how to speak and how to listen. Couples walk down the street or sit in the park and they are obsessed with their cell phones. People sit in waiting rooms obsessed with their cell phones. People walk in front of cars and bump into light poles because they are obsessed with their cell phones.”

48 Ways to Shalom Bayis is structured for daily reading. Doing so for the 49 days of Sefirah (one day is for the introduction) can make for remarkable growth.  The book will soon be available in New York Metropolitan area seforim stores and  is now available through Amazon at:

The reviewer can be reached at [email protected]

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