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The Jewish View of Divorce

The Jewish View of Divorce

Divorce is a tragedy, but sometimes it's the right thing to do


When a couple gets married in a Jewish wedding ceremony, their souls become one. It is like a spiritual operation that takes separate beings and fuses them into a new whole. The Jewish divorce ceremony is the reverse of this. It is a spiritual amputation, severing one part of the united soul from the other, creating two separate beings.

Divorce, like an amputation, is a tragedy, but sometimes it's the right thing to do. Our attitude to divorce parallels our attitude to the amputation of a limb in several ways:

Divorce, like an amputation, is a tragedy, but sometimes it's the right thing to do

It is painful. When a limb becomes so diseased that it endangers the rest of the body, the patient is faced with a horrible choice: to face the pain of amputation, or risk worse suffering by leaving things as they are. If the future risks are high enough to clearly outweigh the present pain, the right thing to do is cut off the limb. Similarly, divorce is painful for all involved, but it is the right choice when remaining in an unhealthy relationship will only cause more damage, suffering and heartache.

It is a last resort. We do everything possible to avoid needing to amputate. If there is a remote chance that the limb can be salvaged, even with great effort and expense, it is worth a try. Only after exhausting all other possibilities would we resort to amputation. Same with divorce—it is only considered after counselling and sincere efforts to change prove fruitless.

It is not just a "Plan B". Amputation is not taken lightly. It is not seen as an option if things don't work out. No one would recklessly experiment on their body, saying ,"If anything happens to my limbs, I can always amputate." Similarly, we don't enter marriage saying, "If things don't work out we can always get a divorce." Divorce should not be a factor in the decision to get married. Marriage is forever. There is no Plan B.

Prevention is better than a cure. Amputees can live a happy and fulfilled life. They may be far better off after their operation than before. But if they could live life over again, they wouldn't choose to go down that path a second time. So too, divorce may sometimes lead to happiness, and true love and contentment may come after the dissolution of a relationship. But if we can reach that point without the pain of divorce, surely that would be preferable.

Often when a couple splits up, the question is not, "Why did they get divorced?", but rather, "Why did they ever get married in the first place?" In many cases, people are getting divorced for the right reasons, and married for the wrong reasons. High divorce rates should not scare us away from getting married, but rather strengthen our resolve to take marriage seriously, and ensure that we are choosing our partners for the right reasons. What are the right reasons? That's another question...

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Brocha England March 8, 2017

We are all unique puzzle pieces... and we can all create a beautiful picture, and sometimes pieces won't fit in with each other, due to extra corners or sharp edges, but at the end of the day if we try a puzzle combination that doesn't work, it just gives us more knowledge and experience for next time... because yes, we all make mistakes and create weird combinations, but at the end of the day, it all creates a more unique bigger picture.. BJ Reply

Alice Jena richmond hill February 28, 2017

the Jewish View of Divorce Thank you Anonymous in L.A. I was married under the Chupah - I wanted to stay married after 27 years. The "wasband" (was a husband) had his family & his cult tell him to leave me. We were meant to stay together I think. My heart is broken & it is over ten years later. I still go to therapy & a psychiatrist Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem June 18, 2017
in response to Alice Jena:

To Alice: so sorry to read your story. May HaShem listen to your prayers and surprise you.

Moshe (who also wanted to remain married after 21 years marriage). Reply

alice jena richmond hill June 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

The Jewish View of Divorce Thank you Moshe. I wish you and your all good health and happiness always. The "wasband" is Moshe! Ironic?
He is living with his Lady friend that is from the same cult he is in. His parents; quite elderly, still live near him. His dream to be with his mommy & Daddy I suppose Reply

Teddy Jacobs February 28, 2017

Another example of how we need to realise that we are all worth it. Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles September 15, 2016

I could write the book "Many lives, Many wives." (And maybe i eventually will...but will wait till all my children are married.!). Lost one wife to cancer and two others to divorce. In a way, I have a credential that few have, though of dubious distinction. I beg to differ with Aron Moss, regardless of whether he's speaking from personal experience or not. IMHO, there's only one Physician who can determine when "Amputation," is absolutely an imperative. When it comes to Zivug Rishon (First Pairing), and the couple divorces, the Talmud teaches us that even the Holy Mizbeach pours down tears for this cutting as asunder that which Hashem put together. Aron asks a good question, "What are the wrong reasons?" but one thing is clear according to chassidus, particularly rebbe nachman's teachings, that if the couple stood under a kosher canopy they were 100% meant to marry. Their dilemma, when shalom bayis is compromised, is to work out their differences for ultimately they're doing their tikkn Reply

Lauren ny September 1, 2016

So true. I am a divorcee that is the hardest choice I had to make! Reply

Anonymous June 22, 2017
in response to Lauren:

I agree no regrets I am doing much. Better on my own! Reply

Anonymous August 7, 2016

What happens If a woman won't accept get Reply

Brad Billings October 21, 2015

Breaking the Vow to G_d Divorce may be painful to adults but absolutely destroying to children where most never recover. Why Is this Issue talked about in the most pretentious caring terms as if its about the passing of Grandpa? Because of the hardness of your hearts, this was by permission not a commandment. Reply

Anonymous October 8, 2015

divorce Dear Toronto,

Judaism is a great source of wisdom and strength, but professional counseling can be helpful too. The pain comes from trying to control what we cant. Relief comes in letting go. There are professional ways to help you do that, in addition to keeping the faith. Reply

Anonymous Toronto October 6, 2015

Dear Anonymous, I also hope I can begin a new chapter in my life that one that includes my very own biological adult child. Even as a single mother, I raised my child very much in the typical " Jewish " way. Love of parents , grandparents , family, community , Torah, health , prosperity, education, respect , diplomacy ... And even though his biological father & I are divorced , we do have many of the same values. Unfortunatley , the we have become victims of Severe Parental Alienation. Fortunatley , the biological father is beginning to understand what has happened. I pray that we will finally be in reunification therapy & my child & I will be reunited alive & well on earth. B" H. To me this will be the best chapter in my life , aside from the birth of my child. B' H. ... any advice on how to make this happen is much appreciated. Shana Tova Reply

Anonymous toronto September 29, 2015

Reunited Alive &Well On Earth Right Now Dear Anonymous in ca, fortunatley , my child & I have found the judicial.system very empowering . I have had full custody of my child since he is 6 years old. In fact he even hired his own Lawyer to ensure I retained full custody of him. It is only since we have not been protected by the Courts that we have been estranged & affected by Severe Parental Alienation. And ,there may be more than one Alienator. It could be a friend , a spouse ,a boss .... It is a conspiracy against the biological mother & adult child. The alienators will do anyrhing to destroy the biological mother , child relationship. It is done purposly to hurt , destroy , be cruel ,malicious ,&vicious. There are laws against this that must be implemented for the safety of the biological mother & child ( including adult children ).Our adult children have the right to have our love & protection. The Alienators are like hidden wolves waiting to pounce on us the first chance they get. We must be allowed to protect our child Reply

Anonymous Toronto September 29, 2015

Reunited Alive & Well on Earth B'H Dear Anonymous in ca, it is amazing how much can be done when one knows that her child is the most important ,precious gift that G-d could ever give her. There is nothing too difficult when it comes to my child ; my life. Life is meaningless without my child. We will be reunited alive & well on Earth. B' H. Reply

Anonymous Toronto September 29, 2015

Reunited Alive & Well On Earth B' H Dear Anonymous Cal, thank you for your response .I can not imagine being any other way. I love , respect , & need my child now more than ever. And beileve it or not ,vice versa. All families go through things in life. Severe Parental Alienation is one of them. My heart is breaking for both of us. All the experts say it truly is not the childs fault . And I know that it is not. And when I was forced to go through 2 divorces who has been there for me .... my child. We truly are victims of Severe Parrntal Alienation. The Syndrome even includes Post Traumatic Syndrome ( for both of us - not the" Alienators" . ) The laws must be changed so that. non abusive , loving , resposible parents of adult children are allowed to help their adult children. We help strangers , how can we be stopoed from helping our very own biological children when they need us the most ?( I guess just more of the Severe Parental Alienation) We have the right to be reunited alive & well on earth. B' H Reply

Anonymous September 26, 2015

Jewish view of divorce To Toronto:

It's important to seek support for yourself at this time, both professional and family. My wife shocked me after 34 years. After great pain and despair, and adult children, who are also affected, I took the advice of others, and received professional help, and reconnected with old family I hadn't seen in 40 years, and began entering a new chapter. I hope you can begin a New Year similarly.

L'Shana Tova. Reply

Anonymous calabasas, ca September 22, 2015

Dear Anonymous in Toronto,

The legal system can be disempowering, here in the U.S. too. I admire your strength and courage, and for continuing to love your adult child, no matter how difficult the laws can sometimes make it.

I hope you can let go of the frustration of trying to control what we cannot, and have faith that a Higher Law will prevail in the end.
Shalom. Reply

Anonymous toronto September 21, 2015

I believe that there is a great need for Divorce Insurance - especially for the children involved. There are laws that state that people are not allowed to use divorce as a way of revenge ; that children are not allowed to be used as pawns... Unfortunatley , these laws arr not being enforced ; way too often leaving single mothers & their children in precarious situations. Everyone involved in a divorce should be well provided for , safe , &,not alone. No one should be allowed to make another person destitute , homless , & estranged from their very own biological children. This is emotional , mental , financial , & physical abuse. No one has the right to do this . This is illegal. Reply

Anonymous Toronto September 12, 2015

Although my child & I are not back to normal as yet, @ least I got him out of a extreamley dangerous situation , alive & well. B' H. And I am able to text him. It is not only biological parents who do the Severe Parental Alienation. My child was taken away , isolated, forbidden to have any contact @ all with me. The way the laws are, well meaning loving parents are way too limited as to what we are able to do for our very own biological adult children. Our children are our children @ any age & we are parents to our children @any age. Our laws are putting our adult children in danger & preventing us from protecting our adult children. Never ever give up on your adult child never. Especially if you have had a normal healthy loving relationship with your child & the child suddenley becomes non communitive. We know our children better than anyone else. And we have every right to help our children - even as adults. Reply

Anonymous toronto September 12, 2015

Dear Trusting & Ester, thank you. Your words are like music to my ears. Unfortunatley , I really had no choice but to get divorced. Sometimes , I feel like such a fool.... I see other people still married. And , I have had to start over. One thing I know for sure, if I had stayed in the marraige, my child & I would have suffered much more. One therapist said we would not have survived ( G - d Forbid ). Therefore I really had no choice.After being in many groups for divorced people I now know my marraige was better than most ... until it wasn' t..... Anyway , thank you so much for the encouragment I need to stay positive , healthy , & hopeful. Shana Tova to everyone. Reply

Alexander Abraham Feldbaum Israel September 11, 2015

When does the Thora say a divorce should be given? When does the Thora say a divorce should be given? The Thora says: If you do not find beauty because of sin (Devarim 24, 1). The Oral Thora (Gemara Gittin page 90) explains the written Thora: As three types of men who cause the need for a divorce: 1st Beth Shammai is a case were the man cannot stomach the problems he caused in the marriage is like a man who throws out his drink with the fly in it. 2ndBeth Hillel: even a small problem can cause a divorce if you don't correct it. Take the fly out of the drink. 3rdR. Akiba why are you looking for fulfillment outside the home? It is not in heaven nor over the oceans, it will be close to home; in your mouth when you talk to your partner with what they need. Without this is like one who eats the fly with his drink.
Question: Why does the Thora only gives the man the ability to force a divorce?
Why does the Gemara give cases where a woman can force, divorce? Reply

Anonymous September 9, 2015

Trusting to work it out caused great harm Well, my situation was quite the contrary. I knew the marriage was not working, but did not get the money and nerve to bail out when I could. The result is that the flaws in the husband festered, and ultimately he aggressively divorced, hideous results for the children.
No, divorce is not the worst thing, and it is best for all, especially the children, to move ahead on it sooner rather then later.
Sometime a marriage is like a cancer, best to get it out while you can to survive. Reply

Alice Jena Richmond Hill September 7, 2015

I agree with Charles Winter, totally! Thank you! My divorce was the result of a family that condoned divorce for their children; but the matriarch and patriarch still are together for 68 years.
It is absurd and detrimental to the future of all to not try and work out problems being intelligent evolved species... Reply

Anonymous Toronto June 22, 2017
in response to Alice Jena:

Dear Alice , I normally agree with you. But , I have now come to accept that I did have to get divorced. My child and I are alive. B'H. B' H. B'H. And , I really hope my adult child does as well. I now believe that we are very fortunate to be allowed to divorce . Of course for a very good reson. And our childtens lives and ours are a very good resson. No greater mitzvah than to save a life . Reply

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