Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - The Two Who Truly Know You
A Simple Jew asks:
The Chidushei HaRim once told one of his chassidim, "There are only two who truly know you: Hashem and your wife." After you asked your wife whether all the Torah you learned over the past year had contributed into making you into a better person, or whether he had just remained the same, what did she reply? In what areas did she note that you excelled and in which areas did she note that you needed improvement?
Dixie Yid answers:
I asked my wife this question and it started a serious conversation. Her response was to say that she marked her impressions of me from the time we moved into our current neighborhood, about 3 years ago. She said that, on the positive side, she felt proud that I had become more disciplined, in that I was (almost always) getting up at 4 AM for my regular sedorim of learning before davening and going off to work. Also, she was happy that I was improving in things that I had previously become lax in like attending mincha and ma'ariv with a minyan regularly. She was happy that I was taking other steps one-by-one like doing the bedside neigel vassar and saying Krias Shema al Hamita with hamapil. She thought that I had become better at helping her and the kids and that I did virtually nothing for myself, but rather herself and the kids.
On the other hand, she could only come up with one point in which she felt I had gotten worse. And that is that she felt that I had gotten more impatient and was losing my temper more easily with the children, though she was not sure this was not partially due to my recent efforts at repairing my previous laxness in discipline with the children. She has complained recently that I leave virtually all of the discipline to her, making her out to the be bad guy... But that's another story.
This was basically the substance of our conversation in response to A Simple Jew's question. And all of that leads me to one inescapable conclusion. I have difficulty in believing the truth of the Chiddushei HaRim's statement as it applies to me! Perhaps with certain types of bad midos and behaviors, it may be true that the natural victim who takes the brunt of those things, or who sees you in the privacy of your own home, is the wife. And I heard it told over that at the levaya of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, z"tl, his widow cried out, "Guf Kadosh! Guf Kadosh!" Certainly no one could have known of that Tzadik's personal Kedusha more than his own wife, which she testified to with her heartfelt cries. However, I don't think that this applies to all types of faults.
"לֵב--יוֹדֵעַ, מָרַּת נַפְשׁוֹ" (Mishlei 14:10) Paraphrasing: Only a person's own heart knows the bitterness of his soul. Only I know about the fact that I have virtually no self-control when it comes to ta'avos. To give a benign example or two, if I'm shopping and I want a soda when leaving the grocery store because they cleverly place them right there as you're going into the checkout line, I buy one regardless of whether I need a drink or not, simply because I want one. Another example: If I think of something that I would like to know, I instantly look it up online, even at work without waiting for my lunch break. Also, my wife does not know the extent of my laziness and other bad traits. The point is that I don't think the Chiddushei HaRim's statements applies to all kinds of faults.
Therefore, in my very humble opinion, I think one should not allow his wife's good opinion of him to lull him into a feeling of complacency about his spiritual standing!