Rebbetzin Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

Rebbetzin Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde

I once spoke with a mother who lamented the fact that when she was single she had been such a wonderful person. Always kind, patient, tolerant–perfect! And once she got married and especially after she became a mother, on a regular basis she would find herself turning from Rebbetzin Jekyll into Mrs. Hyde. From kind, patient, perfect to grouchy, angry– so frustrated!
Last week’s Parsha taught that “Noah was a righteous man (tsaddik) and perfect (tamim) in his generation.”
And Rabbi Fischel Schachter asks what the difference is between a tsaddik and a tamim.
A tsaddik, Rav Moshe Feinstein explained, is involved deeply with other people–with his children, his spouse, others in his community. .
And he’s not perfect. He makes mistakes. Because when you have real, meaningful relationships with other people you will always make mistakes. When you care about other people and try to have a positive influence on them, you will inevitably make mistakes. Step on people’s toes, hurt feelings, say and do stuff you will regret.
On the other hand, a tamim never ever does anything wrong. He is perfect. Because he sticks to himself. Looks out for himself and his own perfect report card.
You would think, therefore, that the Tamim is greater than the Tsaddik. That he is perfect and therefore on a higher level. But you’d be wrong.
The Gemara says that there were only 4 people in history who never did anything wrong: Binyamin, Yishai, Amram, and Kelav, the son of David. They were perfect tmimim, because they had limited involvement with other people.
So why is it, the Chatam Sofer asks, that Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, David, all of whom made serious mistakes in their lives, are the Ushpizin we invite into our succahs year after year?
Doesn’t it make more sense that we would invite the perfect, unsullied Binyamin, Yishai, Amram, and Kelav into our succahs instead?
And why, every time we pray, do we mention “The God of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov?”
Why don’t we pray to “The God of Binyamin, Yishai, Amram, and Kelav” instead?
We don’t because Hashem loves the imperfect Tsaddikim, including us toe-stepping JewishMOMs, even more.

Watch Rabbi Schachter explaining the difference between a tamim and a tsaddik.


  1. beautiful!
    There is nothing as sweet as our holy Torah.

  2. Just what I needed to hear! Very relatable.

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