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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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Discussion (129)
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.
October 8, 2015
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
calabasas, ca
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.
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.