For your reading pleasure, here’s the midrash I just spent the morning writing about. Moral of the story: Spiritual practice does not include neglecting your family and/or those who need you. Tending to them is a spiritual practice in and of itself (note when our hero finally gets to talk to God). Being considerate to your family means not only taking care of the big things, but thinking about the small things, like not surprising people or catching them off-guard. And so forth.

R. Haninia b. Hakinai and R. Shinmon b. Yohai went to study Torah with R. Akiva in Bene Barak, and they were there 12 years. R. Shimon b. Yohai used to send (home for news) and knew what was happening at his home. R. Haninia did not send home and did not know what was happening at his home. His wife sent him (word), and said to him, “Your daughter has matured. Come and marry her off.” (R. Haninia did not tell R. Akiva about this.) Even so, [the situation] became clear to R. Akiva by means of holy spirit, and he said to them [his students], “Anyone who has a mature daughter, he should go and marry her off.” [R. Haninia] understood what he said. He rose, took leave and went. He wanted to enter his house, but he found that it had been turned in a different direction. What happened? He went and sat at the water-drawing-place of the women. He heard the voice of the girls saying, “Daugher of Hanina, fill your vessel and go.” What did he do? He went after her until she entered into his house. He entered after her suddenly, and the moment his wife saw her, her soul departed. He said before God, “Master of the Universe, this poor one, this is the reward for the one who waited thirteen years for me? That very moment, her soul returned to her body. R. Shimon ben Yochai said, there are four things that the Holy One, Blessed Be He hates, and I don’t like them either: when he holds the male member while urinating, when he performs conjugal duties while naked, when he discusses issues between himself and his wife publicly, and the one who enteres his house suddenly. One does not need to say, into the house of his friend (because, how much more so does this apply than even for his own house!) Rav said: Do not enter a city suddenly, and do not enter a house suddenly, (and if) your daughter has matured, (get her married, even if you have to) liberate your slave and give her to him. R. Yochanan went to ask after R. Hanina he would knock at the door, according to (the pasok), “And his sound will be heard (when he enters)” (Shemot 28:35) (Vayikra Rabba 21:8. Versions of this story also can be found in Ketubot 62b and Bereishit Rabba 95).

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