Wife Not Slave (Parshas Mishpatim)

There are two verses juxtaposed in the beginning of Parshas Mishpatim which seem to have nothing to do with each other. First the verse states the laws of one selling his daughter as a Jewish maidservant. The following verses discuss the topic of disputes between people. What’s the connection?

The Tanna D’Vey Eliyahu Rabbah (21:2) makes the following statement based upon this advent: “when you have a maidservant in the home, there are fights!”

I interpret this homiletically. When one treats his wife like a Queen, then there will be peace and harmony. However, if one treats her as a slave, there will be great discord and suffering.

A Rav once told a young man the secret to a successful marriage. If you treat her like a maidservant, then by extension, you are married to her, and maidservants marry slaves. If you treat her like a Queen, then you as her husband must be the King!

Simple equation, profound observation!