The Torah in Parashat Naso discusses the procedure of the “Sota,” which was required when a husband had reason to suspect his wife of infidelity. He would bring her to the Bet Ha’mikdash where the Kohen would conduct a special ceremony whereby her innocence or guilt would be determined.
In introducing this section, the Torah writes, “Ish Ish Ki Tisteh Ishto…” – “If a man’s wife strays…” The question immediately arises as to why the Torah here repeats the word “Ish” (“man”), as though it was saying, “A man, a man whose wife strays…” What is the purpose of this repetition?
One of the scholars of Musar suggested that the Torah here subtly addresses the question of why a married woman would enter into an extramarital relationship. What might cause a woman to betray her husband? The answer, the Torah teaches us, is often “Ish Ish” – that the marriage was only about the husband. A marriage is supposed to be “Ish Isha” – a husband and wife. But when one spouse dominates the relationship, concerning himself or herself with only his or her concerns and interests, without giving proper consideration and regard to those of the other spouse, the other spouse might naturally feel tempted to find emotional satisfaction elsewhere. Of course, this does not justify betrayal. But the Torah cautions the husband that a situation of “Ish Ish,” if he does not pay sufficient attention to his wife’s needs and wishes, if he does not show her respect and care, he unwittingly builds her temptation to pursue other sources of gratification.
The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204) writes that a husband is required to “honor his wife more than himself.” Marriage must never become a one-way street. Each must respect and look out for the needs and wishes of the other, rather than focusing only on his or her own interests. This mutual care, respect and attention will help ensure that both spouses receive the happiness and satisfaction they seek, that the marriage will serve them both as an everlasting source of joy and fulfillment.