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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...

Web art by Menachem Nagar
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Discussion (135)
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
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
Alice Jena
richmond hill
February 28, 2017
Another example of how we need to realise that we are all worth it.
Teddy Jacobs
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
Los Angeles
September 1, 2016
So true. I am a divorcee that is the hardest choice I had to make!
August 7, 2016
What happens If a woman won't accept get
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
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