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Shalom Bayis Eggs

Shalom bayis. It’s one thing to learn about it in a shiur. It’s quite another to share a household with your husband every single day

On the cusp of our daughter Sara’s wedding, I look for opportunities to teach her about shalom bayis. It’s one thing to learn about it in a shiur. It’s quite another to share a household with your husband every single day. Recently, Hashem handed me one lesson I couldn’t possibly have orchestrated myself.

As new business owners of Edison Pack and Ship, my husband Stephen and I work side by side, partnering through our first year in business with all of the requisite tumultuous days such an adventure brings. Any new business owner will tell you that the first year is at times so worrisome, you wonder what you got yourself into. At other times, it’s so much fun, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. We’ve looked for opportunities to tighten our belts at every turn, stretching the dollars, and creatively budgeting for the transition from salaried work to the ebb and flow of entrepreneurial income.

As I am the only one in the house who grocery shops (except our teenage children who now love an excuse to take the car and do errands for mom), Stephen leaves it to me to forage through the local supermarkets looking for sales and good buys. As regular shoppers at Costco, I do wonder sometimes if I save money by going there, as I walk out with giant size cases of food I might not have bought otherwise. But taking out the calculator, on an item-by-item basis, it often seems like a good deal.

And so it was that I decided to deviate from getting my normal egg brand, and to buy six dozen Costco eggs at a cheaper price per dozen. I carefully transported them home and set them on the top shelf of my fridge. I wasn’t crazy about how much room they took up, but I was determined to make the sacrifice to save a few dollars.

And then Stephen opened the fridge and blanched. “What are you doing with so many eggs? We don’t go through eggs that fast,” he said. I insisted they would get used up before turning bad, but he was skeptical. The last thing my husband can stand is wasting food — in lean times, even more so. I tried to convince him of my frugal, wise grocery purchase, but he was not on board.

That very afternoon, I carefully removed the eggs from the fridge, found the Costco receipt, and drove back to Costco to return them. “Anything wrong with the eggs?” the clerk asked. “Nope,” I said. She eyeballed me, wondering why this lady was returning perfectly good eggs. What was I going to do, explain to her that these eggs were creating a shalom bayis problem in my house? “Nothing wrong with them,” I repeated. “I just changed my mind.”

When the girls noticed that the eggs had disappeared, they asked me why. I told them, “Whenever Tatty opens the fridge and sees the eggs, he is unhappy. I don’t want to make Tatty unhappy. It’s better that I return the eggs.”

A few hours after my Costco run, I got a phone call. A friend of mine had just returned from a farm, carrying in her car a big box of — drumroll please — 30 dozen eggs! She took what she needed, and then asked me: “Do you want some eggs? And then can you help me give the rest out?”

If I made up a story like this, I would be accused of creating an unbelievable plot line. But this is true. After taking the eggs I needed, I spent a delightful hour driving to homes where I knew large families resided and free eggs would be appreciated. I felt then — and still do — that Hashem was high-fiving me: “Atta Girl. Shalom bayis comes first. Here’s your reward.”

Last year, when Sara was in seminary, she called me after spending Shabbos in a home where shalom bayis was markedly absent. She thanked me for the peace in our home, something she often took for granted until she saw it missing in other homes. Perhaps, after this incident, she understands better — peace comes from thousands of small decisions in which shalom is the first priority. Sometimes it even means returning six dozen eggs to Costco.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 414)

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