Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marrying a Divorcee or Widow

Pesachim(112a): Do not cook in a pot that your fellow used for cooking. What is that referring to? – Do not marry a divorce during her first husband’s lifetime. As the Master said: A divorced man who marries a divorced woman – there are four entities present in the bed. Alternatively this advice also applies to not marrying a widow because not all fingers are equal [i.e., sex organs and she will think that sexual relations with her new husband are not as good as with the first and she will come to disparage him – Rashi].


  1. Do we poskin by this gemorah?

    And is Rashi trying to say that some cooks have small utensils?

    1. This is not halacha - it is simple commonsense advice. Every remarriage carries baggage with it. Obviously it is not saying never marrry a divorcee or a widow - but just be aware of the issues and be sensitive in response.

    2. Could you please explain how this would be "simple commonsense" in the context of a polygamous society, i.e. the man would reserve himself the right to marry one (or several) virgins, never touched by another man, while the women would have to accept "the same spoon stirring many pots".

      It does not take that much fantasy - societies like that actually exist in our modern-day world.

    3. As a therapist - I see this as reality in people who remarry. This would be true of monogamous as well as polygamous societies.

      The gemora was written to be read by men. However the same concerns would be relevant for a woman who married a man who had a good and satisfactory marriage. The spirit or image of his deceased wife would clearly play a major role in any future relationships. often there is tremendous feelings of guilt for betraying the deceased.

      Do you think it is easy for a woman who married a widower who keeps all of his deceased wifes clothing and has pictures of her all over the house?

      I had one client whose family had lost a child and insisted in preserving her room exactly as it was on the day that she died. All events in the family revolved her birthday, her tastes in food, her favorite songs etc etc. They were totally driven by the need to preserve her living memory - but it was killing them.

    4. It does not say that a woman should be concerned about her husband having several wives. That's something you are making up to placate spirits infested by modern-day culture.

      This was written in a context of polygamy, where there was clearly more emphasis on women being virgins and monogamous than on men respecting the same criteria.

      I think that the comparison of a wife to cooking pot in and of itself is outrageous.

    5. Believe it or not, BM, I share your outrage.

      I also hear its relative truth: Beware of the power of the spiritual connection between members of a first marriage (as per sources I've brought on this before). Even after divorce, such connections don't die easily. And yes, as per biology and common knowledge in gender studies, women tend to absorb the influence of their partner much deeper than men do (certainly in the long run) -- so men, be particularly aware of the energy that's been invested in the woman you think to marry.

      But back to the outrage. Cooking pot is really quite low

    6. Bat melech, your response is well put.

      DT, when you say it, I can hear it. But the gemorah is very off putting. Why did they have to say things so crudely? Couldn't they have explained themselves in a more eloquent manner? I'm seriously asking. I really don't understand why the crudeness.

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  3. Who has the moral superiority and such an elevated perspective/authority to allow himself to publicly express outrage at chazal's choice of metaphor?
    Think about their choice of words deeply, examine what the master commentators have written to elucidate its deeper meaning.
    Their every nuance was weighed to a precision we can only strive to appreciate.


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