In our previous discussion concerning mikve ladies not accepting the validity of a convert or wife - an associated problem was brought up. This, like child abuse, is something which strikes at the heart of our spirituality and Torah values and yet is just being ignored or swept under the carpet.
There was a case in my neighborhood several years ago that I want to use as an illustration of the problem. Some of the facts have been altered simply for poetic license but the essential facts are correct. I am bringing this up simply because it illustrates well what I am wrestling with in my critique of religious society - there may or not be a direct connection with the previous discussion.
There was a very well known kiruv personality. Perhaps you could say that he was a poster boy for kiruv. Warm and wise and very articulate in expressing the wisdom of the Torah. He was much in demand as a speaker - and as a consequence he spent much time flying between speaking engagement. Wherever he went he brought the light of Torah. It warmed his heart to see all the people he was influencing and he was a role model of humility and service of G-d. One day he was flying the long and boring stretch across the Atlantic when the stewardess asked him if he needed anything. He realized that she might be Jewish so he engaged her in light banter - seeing if she might be susceptible to becoming frumer. He mentioned that he was a kiruv rabbi and that she probably should avoid him since he was a fundamentalist ultra-orthodox rabbi. She had never met a charming and intelligent religious fanatic so she decided to play along. It turns out she wasn't Jewish - but she really enjoyed the discussion. The conversation deepened and she was really taken with this man. There was something about him that was different than all the men she had ever met. He of course was in this totally leshem shamayim. The fact that she was stunningly beautiful and was quite intelligent and asked really good questions - just made it more of an interesting challenge. By the end of the flight they exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in contact.
To make a long story short - he realized that she really made him feel alive. It was a wondrous thing watching her come up with a really deep question in the Ramchal he told her and the joy on her face when he took the question and connected with chassidic stories and kabbalah. It was an amazing thing realizing how much this beautiful woman benefited from everything he said. He realized that he once had that relationship with his wife of 20 years - but they hadn't had a deeper issue than - whose coming for Shabbos - for at least 10 years. Besides his wife wasn't so beautiful anymore.
After much soul searching he realized that for the sake of his spirituality and hers he needed to drop his wife and marry this stewardess. The stewardess had readily agreed to convert - to marry him. Nonetheless it wasn't easy breaking his wife's heart and destroying his kids - but he was willing to make the sacrifice for the sake of G-d. After all spiritual growth is the prime value and all his wife could do was have babies and keep house. This woman pushed him to spiritual heights and understanding. He just couldn't believe the insights coming out of his mouth when he spoke with her. He would make a break with his old family and he was young enough to start a new family.
He did in fact divorce his wife, the stewardess converted and they married. The wife, family and community was totally devastated. But he moved elsewhere and is happily starting life over again - leshem Shamayim of course.
This story is not rare unfortunately. It goes on all the time in kiruv or with teachers in seminaries. The first recorded case was in fact Zimri - who was the first kiruv rabbi who fell in the line of duty - trying to convert the non-Jewish princess. I spoke to a kiruv rabbi this morning and he says that he has many such stories - but no one is even addressing the issue.
Anyway to tie this back to our original discussion. If you were good friends with the first wife and were asked to supervise the tevila of the second wife - would you be justified in saying no?
Or would you simply point out that a man can legitimately divorce a wife for any reason and thus according to the halacha - there is absolutely nothing wrong with what he did. Perhaps you would even admire (even be jealous) of this man who was willing to sacrifice so much for spiritual growth?