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Behind the Psak

Chany Rosenberg

She answers his endlessly ringing phone, keeps the children quiet as he confers with experts, and reheats his dinner — it’s gotten cold while he’s on the phone. You might know her, but you may not know what it’s like to be the life partner of a dayan. Here’s an insider’s view.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I never thought my husband would be a public figure,” Tirtzah, the wife of a prominent dayan confides. “For many years, he sat in a quiet corner of his kollel, without making any waves. The idea that he would one day speak before crowds, and help an entire community with their halachic queries, never occurred to me — until it became a reality.”

Both family members and kollel yungeleit kept coming to Tirtzah’s husband with halachah sh’eilos. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that if Hashem had given him the ability to answer all those questions, it was his responsibility to share his knowledge with the klal. After receiving a shtar hora’ah (ordination), and studying under a prominent dayan, he was offered a position as a dayan in his kehillah.

And Tirtzah became the dayan’s wife. A role with many responsibilities and ramifications.

“When I renovated my home, I worried about what people would say. When I buy new clothing, I worry about what it says about me,” says Tirtzah. “I feel as if the kehillah has raised my family onto a pedestal, and many people measure themselves by our standards.”

Tirtzah will be in a store and notice consumers eyeing her purchases. On one occasion, when buying shoes for her son, she actually overheard a shopper whisper to her husband, “If Rav Chaim’s son is getting that particular pair of sneakers, it must be okay for our son as well.”


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