Monday, October 22, 2012

Shalom Bayis:Where is source for counseling?

I have just gone through a number of gemoras dealing with the damage that that comes from having a bad wife. Not one of them suggest going to a rav or chachom or even working on the issue. The solution given is simply to get divorced.

Shabbos (11a): All evil is bearable but not a bad wife

Yevamos(63b) Raba said: [If one has] a bad wife it is a meritorious act to divorce her, for it is said, Cast out the scoffer, and contention will go out; yea, strife and shame will cease.  

Yevamos (63b): Raba further stated: A bad wife, the amount of whose kethubah is large, [should be given] a rival at her side; as people say, By her partner rather than by a thorn

 Yevamos (63b): A bad wife is a plague to her husband. What remedy has he? Let him give her a letter of divorce and be healed of his plague 

 The case of erasing G-d's name in the case of Sotah would seem to be a support. However  it seems that the law of Sotah is  unique and not meant to be generalized. 
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My simple therefore question is: What is the source of the shalom bayis with the meaning of counseling.

Why do you need a source for shalom bayis being therapy?

I think it is obvious. The way you respond to strife in marriage reflects what you think marriage is. What you perceive as malfunction in the relationship tells you what marriage is and what this particular marriage is not accomplishing. The apparent Torah description indicates it is simply a type of alliance for the mutual benefit of both parties and society. However modern understanding is that it is the necessary relationship for emotional and psychological needs and therefore a marriage where both sides fulfill their halachic obligations but isn't fulfilling and emotionally satisfying as well as lacking in love - needs to be fixed or ended. Therefore if all the sources dealing with strife in marriage focus on ending conflict - police actions - then there is no concern for love, affection or psychological issues. Consequently one could conclude these issues are not required by the Torah.

Of course one can say that even though they are not the Torah understand are still relevant. That is because the current conceptualization is ais l'asos - that since we are strongly influenced by the non-Jewish culture we need to have love (Hollywood style), fulfillment etc etc - then it would seem to be fine to now be concerned with them. It is simply a pragmatic reality for our times. It doesn't matter on a practical level what happened in the past. We are simply existing in a transient blip in history and we do what we do for the current needs for the members of our society - not what our ancestors 500 years ago did.

However the corollary of viewing this as a transient emergency measure is that we need to be aware of the ideal - when conditions change. Therefore when we get more control and isolate ourselves from the surrounding cultural atmosphere we should be returning to the Torah understanding - the relationship devoid of emotion and psychological fulfillment. Thus the information is for the future - for knowing the ideal so we can return to it.

But there is another approach as to why this question is important. This is the view which is expressed by Rav Tzadok. He holds that the Torah view evolves or progresses for the better. He says we do in fact learn and incorporate ideas from the goyim. Rav Tzadok notes our job is to sanctify these innovations. Therefore the ideal is looking forward and disgarding the past references which are no longer appropriate or allowed. According to this view if a husband insists on following the view of Chazal and Rishonim in this area - he is seriously derelict in his duty. Similarly a wife can't view herself as a baby machine whose job description is described entirely by behavioral requirements and she doesn't need to show love and affection. In other words you can't go back and you fail miserably in Avoda HaShem by trying.

In short this question is a major probe into the essence of what marriage is and what it needs to accomplish.
 

95 comments:

  1. The Gemora also says that the Mizbeach cries whenever a couple divorce.

    Clearly we see Chazal discourage divorce.

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    1. Not necessarily - just that the loss of the first marriage is sad. Doesn't say that for a 2nd or 3rd marraige

      Please find me a single gemora that says if there are conflicts that the couple should go to a talmid chachom for advice? Every single source I have found simply says to get a divorce.

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    2. The fact that Chazal discourage divorce from a first marriage shows Chazal discourage divorce.

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    3. I still don't see it. If we were discouraging divorce it would apply to all marriages - not just first. Rabbi Akiva states that a man can get divorced for any reason. But the bottom line is if there is a value of discourage or stopping divorce there should be concrete suggests on how to do it - and there aren't.

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    4. So why do you think Chazal discourage divorce from a first marriage?

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    5. good question - haven't researched it yet. But the first marriage is clearly specified.

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  2. A bad wife is a bad wife. Bad here does not mean that the two people have different personalities or who have trouble communicating. A bad wife is someone bad for one's spiritual development, bad for the children, bad, simply bad. If someone is bad, it is forbidden to have anything to do with them. But a good wife who may toss a plate or two, that is something else. Here we have the gemora in Yevomose to put up with her and look at the positive. As far as counseling goes, if it works, you can start discussing it. But most of the time it doesn't work. So if the wife is bad, the divorce is a blessing. If there are children, the husband is stuck, and should not divorce her, as the gemora says in Eruvin and Pesachiml. But if the wife is good, let the husband react to her bad flings as the gemora says in Yevomose, by buying her presents and remembering the good she does. And if chazal encourage people to ask advice for medical issues aches and pains as we find one father in the gemora encouraged his son to listen to lectures about health even though it was bitul Torah, why not ask advice about saving a marriage which is a mitsvah, especially if there are children?

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    1. "And if chazal encourage people to ask advice for medical issues aches and pains as we find one father in the gemora encouraged his son to listen to lectures about health even though it was bitul Torah, why not ask advice about saving a marriage which is a mitsvah, especially if there are children?"

      But that is my point - the fact that such would seem that marriage is no less significant than health - and yet there seems to be no place where it advises going to a chachom while the gemora clearly indicates one goes to a doctor when sick.

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  3. Maybe in Shabbos 127a: "These are the percepts whose fruits a person enjoys in This World, but the principle remains intact for him in the World to Come: ...[bringing peace] between a man and his wife..."?

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    1. My gemora doesn't says man and his wife but man and his fellow!


      R. Judah b. Shila said in R. Assi's name in R. Johanan's name: There are six things, the fruit of which man eats in this world, while the principal remains for him for the world to come, viz.: Hospitality to wayfarers, visiting the sick, meditation in prayer, early attendance at the Beth Hamidrash, rearing one's sons to the study of the Torah, and judging one's neighbour in the scale of merit.16 But that is not so? For we learnt: These are the things which man performs and enjoys their fruits in this world, while the principal remains for him for the world to come, viz.: honouring one's parents, the practice of loving deeds,17 and making peace between man and his fellow, while the study of the Torah surpasses them all:18 [this implies], these only, but none others?

      שבת קכז.

      אמר רב יהודה בר שילא אמר רבי אסי אמר רבי יוחנן: ששה דברים אדם אוכל פירותיהן בעולם הזה, והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא. ואלו הן: הכנסת אורחין, וביקור חולים, ועיון תפלה, והשכמת בית המדרש, והמגדל בניו לתלמוד תורה, והדן את חברו לכף זכות. איני? והא אנן תנן: אלו דברים שאדם עושה אותם ואוכל פירותיהן בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא, ואלו הן: כיבוד אב ואם וגמילות חסדים והבאת שלום שבין אדם לחברו ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם [הני - אין, מידי אחרינא - לא]!

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    2. I was quoting from a siddur (this is one of two quotes said after birchas hatorah). It clearly says "...ben adam lechaveiro uven ish leishto..."

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    3. First of all, yes, the siddur apparently has a different girsa which includes "uven ish leishto." I am sure that can be traced down. (Not to mention -- isn't a wife included in "bein adam lechaveiro?")

      Second, IIRC, isn't there a midrash about Aharon who would bring peace between fellow Jews, including between man and wife? (Can't remember where).

      Third, there is the following Rashi on Shemos 20:22 (which possuls a stone on which iron has passed from being used on the mizbeach):

      תחללה: הא למדת, שאם הנפת עליה ברזל חללת, שהמזבח נברא להאריך ימיו של אדם, והברזל נברא לקצר ימיו של אדם, אין זה בדין, שיונף המקצר על המאריך. ועוד, שהמזבח מטיל שלום בין ישראל לאביהם שבשמים, לפיכך לא יבא עליו כורת ומחבל. והרי דברים קל וחומר ומה אבנים שאינם רואות ולא שומעות ולא מדברות על ידי שמטילות שלום אמרה תורה לא תניף עליהם ברזל, המטיל שלום בין איש לאשתו, בין משפחה למשפחה, בין אדם לחבירו, על אחת כמה וכמה שלא תבואהו פורענות:

      and desecrate it: Thus you have learned that if you wield iron upon it, you have desecrated it, for the altar was created to lengthen man’s days, and iron was created to shorten man’s days [because it is used to make swords]. It is improper that the “shortener” be wielded over the “lengthener” (Middoth 3:4). Moreover, the altar makes peace between Israel and their Father in heaven. Therefore, the cutter and destroyer shall not come upon it. The matter is a kal vachomer [a fortiori] conclusion-if [concerning the] stones, which neither see, hear, nor speak, because [of the fact that] they make peace, the Torah said, “You shall not wield iron upon them” (Deut. 27:5), how much more [are we certain that] one who makes peace between husband and wife, between family and family, between man and his fellow, will have no troubles befall him!

      I believe Rashi is quoting the Mechilta. And that includes "making peace between man and his wife"

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  4. The source for investing effort to reconcile a troubled marriage is the Mishna (Avos 1:12) אוהב שלום ורודף שלום. This is repeated with additional detail in Avos D'Rabi Nosson (12) describing how אהרן would approach each spouse. The virtues of that act of chesed are highlighted in several places in Shas and Midrashim.

    I have not a doubt that the post was written to provoke discussion, not to suggest gittin as the easy way, or Torah preferred approach to marital difficulties.

    An issue worthy of much discussion is whether the couples in trouble should seek the advice of a Rav, Rosh Yeshiva, Dayan, etc., or should they direct themselves to the treatment by a trained professional. I would like to see the issue debated here.

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    1. I appreciate your suggestion but I don't see any reference to saving marriages here. I am not trying to provoke discussion or say get divorced. I am pointing out that something which we all take for granted apparently has no source in Chazal and that obvously has significance. I would like to know what.


      I could not find it in chapter 12 but I did find a reference in the second nusach chapter 24

      But this is ascribed uniquely to Aharon and it clearly indicates that he pursued them. It was not advice for a couple to go to someone for therapy. Regarding the issue you raise regarding whose advise should be sought - why not write a guest post on the subject?

      מסכתות קטנות מסכת אבות דרבי נתן נוסחא ב פרק כד

      דבר אחר הוי מתלמידיו של אהרן מלמד שהיה אהרן שואל בשלום בוגדי ישראל והיה אחד מהם מבקש לעשות עבירה והיה אומר (הוא) [אוי] לי מחר יבא אהרן וישאל בשלומי היאך אני משיבו והיה בוש ולא היה סורח. וכן איש שהיה צוהב עם חבירו היה אהרן הולך (לו) [אצלו] ואומר לו בני למה צהבת את ריעך עכשיו בא אצלי בוכה (ומתחנן) [ומתחרט] ואומר אוי לי שצהבתי עם חבירי שהוא גדול ממני הריני עומד בשוק לך ובקש לי ממנו. [מניח זה והולך אצל אחר ואומר לו בני למה צהבת עם חבירך עכשיו בא אצלי וכו']. כיון שיצאו לשוק ופגעו זה בזה היו מגפפין זה את זה ומנשקים זה את זה. וכך היה אהרן עושה כל הימים עד שהיה מטיל שלום בין אדם לחבירו. וכן איש שהיה צהוב עם אשתו ומשלחה מביתו והיה אהרן הולך אצלו ואומר לו בני למה צהבת עם אשתך. אומר לו על שסרחה עלי. א"ל הרי אני עורבה שאינה סורחת עוד עליך מעתה. הולך לו אצל אשתו ואומר לה בתי למה צהבת את בעליך. אמרה לו שהכני וקללני. אמר לה הריני עורבו שאינו מכך ולא מקללך עוד מעתה. וכך אהרן עושה כל ימיו עד שחיה מכניסה לתוך ביתו והיתה מתעברת ויולדת בן ואמרה לא נתן לי הבן הזה כי אם בזכות אהרן. ויש אומרים יותר מג' אלפים מישראל היה שמם אהרן. וכשמת (הלינו) [חלצו] על מטתו יותר מכ"ד אלפים (בני) [בנים] ובני בנים לכך נאמר ויבכו את אהרן שלשים יום כל בית ישראל (במדבר כ' כ"ט):

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    2. I was referring to נוסחא א. The inclusions and exclusions in the nusach of אלו דברים that we recite daily are interesting. The Mishna includes הדן את חבירו לכף זכות, which is not found in the nusach in the siddur (I researched this, and have yet to find any nusach that includes it). There are other additions, such as שחרית וערבית. Those words do not appear in any source I could find. בין איש לאשתו is not found in the משנה, ברייתא, or anywhere else in Shas (in this context). I'm curious how and when it was added. Likewise, הכנסת אורחים was an addition. Same curiosity.

      The rabbinical counselor versus trained therapist issue is presently being explored, discussed, and addressed within the rabbinical and mental health fields. While there could be much lay discussion on this subject here at this time, a guest post would best be postponed until there has been more substantive progress to bring about a meeting of the minds. There are many who feel that the troubled couple should seek only Torah based advice. Therapists have been complaining for years that many of the cases reaching them have been handled by rabbis and others in clergy capacities, and have been damaged by improper and inadequate interventions. Let's wait until there has been further action on this subject within the respected fields. There will likely be numerous news reports about the progress and outcomes of these activities.

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    3. See Haredim Chapter 8 at the end. It says that Aharon HaKohen had as a profession the task of making peace. He then says that the rebbe of the Radvaz, Reb Yosef Saragusee, merited to see Elijah at a certain well, in the merit that he made peace, including between man and wife, even among the gentiles. That is, any family spats, Jewish or not, must be stopped, and this was done by someone who had gilui Eliyohu. It says there that Aharon was mevatel from learning to make peace.He says also in the chapter that a Sota is given the bitter water to enable peace in the house, and this is a woman who sinned, but we erase HaShem's Name to make peace between her, a lower woman, and her husband. This is proof that we want peace between husband and wife, even if this wife sins, even if we have to erase HaShem's Name.

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  5. In the book "Garden of Peace" by R. Shalom Arush, it apparently claims that "Since a wife is considered a “mirror” of her husband and the “mouthpiece” of God, “Garden of Peace” prohibits men from ever criticizing their wives. . "

    In another place I believe the book compares the husband to a "private" who's required to strictly obey the orders of his wife the "General".

    Do these concepts derive from any authentic Torah sources, or are they actually some type of feminist ideology masked as Judaism?

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/weddings/article/rabbi_follows_marital_advice_success_with_book_for_women_20100727

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    1. Actually there was a book written in the 1970's Hanhagos Habayis by Hirsh Travis that has exactly that approach. Rav Menashe Klein wrote an 8 page teshuva שו"ת משנה הלכות חלק ט סימן שיא attacking it as feminist psychology which had nothing to do with Torah. There is an intersting article written by someone at Bar Ilan contrasting the views of Travis and Rav Klein.

      Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky gave a haskoma to the book saying that he wasn't familiar with these issues. Rav Klein noted that if in fact Travis was expressing a Torah view of marriage Rav Yaakov would have been familiar with it.

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    2. http://in.bgu.ac.il/bgi/iyunim/DocLib1/%D7%9E%D7%92%D7%93%D7%A8_%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%9C,_%D7%99%D7%A6%D7%97%D7%A7_%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A5.pdf

      this the link to the article written by יצחק הרשקוביץ

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    3. Who is this Hirsh Travis?

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  6. DaasTorah, I believe I have the English version of the book you referred to, "The Jewish Marriage" by R. Tsvi Dov Travis. It has Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky's haskoma from 5736.

    "Jewish Marriage" seems much more rooted in Chazal, and does not appear to be nearly as feminist as "Garden Of Peace". "Jewish Marriage", p. 27 states "whenever I state that all is dependent upon the husband, that only applies to a situation where he has excelled in his conduct or failed miserably...in other circumstances, when the husband's actions do not excel but are also not that distasteful...all is not dependent solely on him."

    "Jewish Marriage" indicates that the husband must allow the wife to run the material matters of the household, but it does not state (like in Garden of Peace) that he follows her orders like a private obeys a general. It does state that "whenever a wife asks a favor, the husband is required to help" p. 166.

    Since many Torah Jews are reading Garden of Peace, perhaps the deviations from Torah in it should be exposed.

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    1. I suggest you read Rav Klein - his comments should apply also to Garden of Peace

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  7. ג' אין רואין פני גיהנם אלו הן דקדוקי עניות וחולי מעיין והרשות ויש אומרים אף מי שיש לו אשה רעה ואידך אשה רעה מצוה לגרשה ואידך זימנין דכתובתה מרובה אי נמי אית ליה בנים מינה ולא מצי מגרש לה למאי נפקא מינה לקבולי מאהבה

    עירובין מב:

    NO DIVORCE IF THERE ARE CHILDREN!!!

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  8. Why do we need Chazal's OK for going to a counselor? Did the entire idea even exist back then? Or perhaps asking a rav more marital advice was something that never occurred to them?

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  9. RDE, all the sources you cite are of a "bad" wife. Does anyone define "bad"? If one member of the couple is "bad," it is understandable that therapy may not be helpful. But two people who are having conflicts can certainly be helped by marital therapy. We all have flaws, and we are able to work on them. I don't think this is an indication that the solution to ANY marital discord is divorce.

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  10. Re: Garden of Peace, I don't understand why people are throwing it out as feminist. Are Breslavers particularly feminist? It seems clear to me that what Rabbi Arush is doing is taking an approach that puts 100% of the responsibility on... the person reading the book. (See his companion book for women in which they are given the same kind of burden.) I happen not to agree with this approach either, but I don't think "feminist" is the right description.

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  11. One more point about counseling: where do we see a source for therapy at all? (Perhaps one could say "da'agah b'lev ish - yesichena l'acherim.") Do we have sources that say, if you suffer from depression, go to a therapist? If you lack social skills, talk to a rav? I don't know of any (though that's not a raayah for anything). Yet we see that therapy is accepted today by the Torah world, and in fact it is quite effective for a wide range of problems. Why do we need a source to tell us that we should seek an effective solution to our problems?

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  12. Rav Arush says that according to the Gemara, having a nasty wife frees one from gehenna. That is, it purifies one's sins so that one doesn't need purgatory. For that reason, Rav Arush says a husband should accept the nastiness with love. He doesn't provide a citation, though.

    His marriage manual may not be the standard fare but I think it's truly a work of genius. It's compellingly written, and, more importantly, it works.

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    1. what about a nasty husband? does that free a wife from gehenom?

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    2. The gemora is Eiruvin (41b): Three do not see the face of Hell. One who suffers from oppressive poverty, one who has a diseased stomach, and one who is in the custody of the government and some say one who has a bad wife. Why isn’t a bad wife mentioned in the first group? That is because it is a mitzva to divorce her and therefore he would not suffer from her. However this can not always be done since she might have a large kesuba or he has children from her and consequently can not divorce her and thus he suffers from her. However according to the view that it is a mitzva to divorce her so why include it in this list in the first place? In order to lovingly accept the suffering [since it atones for his sins – Rashi].

      It seems from this that there is a dispute whether it is a mitzva to divorce a bad wife. However both the Rambam (Hilchos gerushin 10:22) and Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 119:4) posken that it is a mitzva. Consequently the halacha is that one should divorce a bad wife - but if you can't at least accept the suffering lovingly since it - like other suffering - serves as atonement.

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    3. "His marriage manual may not be the standard fare but I think it's truly a work of genius. It's compellingly written, and, more importantly, it works."

      However if a therapy produces shalom bayis at the expense of the values and relationships the Torah advocates - then why should it be accepted.

      I have not read the book but Rav Klein makes a compelling case that the wife is not to be made the boss in order to achieve shalom bayis.

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    4. So, just out of curiosity:

      when you, Mr. eidensohn, did marriage counceling as a PHD in psychology, you would tell the wife to submit to her husband and shut up?

      Would you tell the couple that the "right order" is for the husband to do whatever he wants and for the wife to submit?

      How come you are asking this question now, after many years of councelling? this would imply that your councelling was not torah-true up to now?

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    5. Indeed! you seem to be an expert in asking "when did you stop beating your wife" questions. You first assume something about me that is nasty is true and then demand I explain why I did that nasty thing.

      No I did not tell a wife to submit to her husband and shut up - that is against the Torah as well as poor psychology and unethical.

      My Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Friefeld told me before I got married that while a wife is totally permitted to a husband but one should not do anything disgusting. And that a husband should not do anything the wife found unpleasant.

      Indeed! why do you have such a hostile attitude? I am quite willing to discuss issues - but you clearly are not just interested in getting answers but to make nasty accusation or show that Torah is mistaken. In fact your attitude reminds me of Shmarya Rosenberg's approach to me in the several times he has made comments on this blog. In general both of you are very intelligent - and ask very good questions but the hostility is incredible. Why don't you focus on learning what is rather than being the Accuser. Truth is easier to find when you aren't angry.

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    6. Because you give husbands who act unethically, inhumanely food for their stance, and they use you

      1) to validate the sources that support their inhumane stance

      2) to invalidate the sources that go against their inhumane stance.

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    7. @Indeed! - Your accusations against Daas Torah are absolute feminist idiocy. Nothing DT wrote provided any support to unethical or inhumane husbands.

      Feminists and leftists such as yourself are simply unable to debate on an intellectual level, and are unable to cite authentic Torah sources for your positions. One can easily observe this in the incredibly stupid and ignorant leftist/liberal rants by Shmarya and other degenerate leftist scoundrels on blogs like failedmessiah.

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    8. Indeed! I was referring to people like you when I said that this blog teaches unethical husbands how to be unethical under the disguise of torah law.

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    9. R' Eidensohn, you seem to misunderstand what R' Arush is saying. He is not saying the woman should be the boss. He is not advocating bowing to her halachic opinions and wishes. Read it and you'll see. This is a very successful and popular marriage manual so it's probably a good idea for you to read it to see what's in it.

      Anyway, there is a basis for his view that men should not be criticizing and making negative comments to his wife. Rabbi Akiva said no one in his generation was qualified to give reproof -- this implies that criticizing others and trying to make them change is not something a normal person should do. Also, it's written somewhere, perhaps Avos d'Rabbi Nosson, that men should be exceedingly humble in their households -- and how better to do this by refraining from criticism when at all possible. Rav Arush does say there are ways to "criticize" without really criticizing, like saying things about the future and what should be done halachically, etc. -- you'll have to read it to see the details and his sources.

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  13. There is a chazal that the altar weeps when one divorces one's first wife.

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    1. see first comment - Chaim October 22, 2012 10:49 PM

      The Gemora also says that the Mizbeach cries whenever a couple divorce.

      Clearly we see Chazal discourage divorce.

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  14. And what about a woman who has a bad husband. What do you suggest for her?

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    1. Good question 1) the gemora in Eiruvin 41b obviously is relevant. All suffering is an atonement 2) If he is dangerous to her she should leave him and he can be forced - at least in Israel to give a divorce 3) If he is unbearable (ma'os alei) then she should leave him. This is where we came in. the options clearly are limited for a woman - though a assistance of sensitive rabbonim provide much more hope for resolving the issue successfully. Whatever progress in this area are made - need to be done with universal approval - such as occurred with the decree of the Gaonim, Cherem of Rabbbeinu Gershom, and the Harchakos of Rabbeinu Tam. Perhaps even a better version of the prenuptial agreement which can be accepted by the chareidi rabbis.

      But you obviously have an important point which still awaits a satisfactory answer.

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    2. Did you read what you wrote here?
      If a woman has a bad husband, she should be happy for her suffering, since it is atonement? As long as he is not dangerous, he cannot be forced to give a get? If he is dangerous he cannot be forced to give a get outside of Israel?

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    3. yes I read what I wrote there and it is not what you are claiming I said.

      Indeed! you have a nasty habit of deliberately misquoting in order to make accusations of all sorts of bad things. I did not say she should be happy nor did the gemora say she should be happy. It does say there is a silver lining in the cloud that the suffering serves as atonement. I am stating what is according to present reality or present halachic restrictions - not what is desirable.

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    4. "I am stating what is according to present reality or present halachic restrictions - not what is desirable."

      Are you implying that "present reality or present halachic restriction" create a situation that is not desirable?

      In this case, we completely agree!

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    5. no we don't agree. I said, "I am stating what is according to present reality or present halachic restrictions - not what is desirable."

      I wasn't talking whether it is desirable or not but what is the present reality

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  15. The gemaras you quote still leave room for counseling, IMHO. They all seem to refer to the wife being bad as an objective fact, as opposed to merely the initial impression of the husband in a troubled marriage. So why not just say that these gemaras are referring to cases where, after much counseling, the husband is now sure that the problem is with the wife and not him?

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    1. You are correct - they are not a contradiction to counseling. But my question remains as to why there is no mention of counseling.

      In addition they clearly give no hint of the distinction you are making.

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    2. i still don't understand why did you need "room for counseling"? there was no such thing as counseling, certainly not as we know it today. unless there is a source in the gemara which says that such a thing is assur?

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    3. As for hints, I said before that "They all seem to refer to the wife being bad as an objective fact, as opposed to merely the initial impression of the husband in a troubled marriage." Also, once you line up these gemaras with others brought here re: the general undesirability of divorce, saying that your gemaras refer to husbands divorcing their wives after thinking deeply about the issues is a very reasonable okimta to make.

      Another reason why I think the reason why couseling was not mentioned per se was because the idea of counseling being a separate professional service is relative new. Before there were professional counselors, normal people with difficult problems talked it over with friends, confidants, rabbis, etc. before pulling the trigger on a hard decision. The gemara presumes here that the husband is a normal mature person who doesn't take divorce lightly. The gemara doesn't have to say after each statement "Btw, don't be an impulsive, irresponsible jerk."

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  16. Rav Eidensohn,

    I don't quite understand your question. The idea of shalom bayis is clearly praiseworthy (ish and isha yud keh and esh). What the gemaras that you quote seem to be saying is that a "bad" wife should be divorced. And I assume everyone would agree to that. However, the word "bad" is critical here. Couples that are encouraged to seek counselling are encouraged because it is assumed the wife is not bad but something in their relationship is not is not working. If after ccounselling etc it is clear that the wife is bad, then divorce is probably encouraged. I once heard in the name of Rav Salomon, that just as the mizbeach cries over a couple when they get divorced, it also cries over some couples who don't get divorced. So, the gemara is just saying bad wives should be divorced. Counselling is probably part of the process when you can determine if she really is a bad wife or you are at fault, or something else is at fault and causing the friction in the relationship which can be remedied. By the way, why didn't Odom divorce Chava after she gave him from the etz hadaas? Was that act not considered being a bad wife?

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    1. "By the way, why didn't Odom divorce Chava after she gave him from the etz hadaas? Was that act not considered being a bad wife?"

      Because she had large ketubah, stupid!

      No, seriously: he did not divorce her because there was no other woman around, so he had to make do with this one....

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    2. or maybe he recognized his culpability in the whole affair

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  17. This "bad" wife or husband business is actually not informative and obscures the real question. Among the mental illnesses, there is an entire category of "personality disorders" also called "character disorders" (known in the professions as Axis II disorders). Basically, these refer to personality types in which the problem is "hard wired". These are seen as different from a dysfunction or a disease that can be changed with therapy (or other interventions). For the most part, these disorders can be controlled to some degree, but never truly modified.

    To me, the "bad" individual is someone with a condition that cannot be altered through any intervention. To discuss counseling with such an individual is futile.

    I will stick to my position that the role of counseling to reconcile a marital problem is suggested in the mishna about Aharon Hacohen who was occupied with הבאת שלום בין איש לאשתו. We are told in detail about his therapeutic technique, though I am not sure that this is always the approach to implement. I still wonder, as does RDE, why more is not stated openly in the holy words of Chazal.

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  18. @Daas Torah - "Rav Klein makes a compelling case that the wife is not to be made the boss in order to achieve shalom bayis."

    "The Jewish Marriage" book by R. Travis cites Bava Metzia 59a and then states (p.155) "According to both explanations (in BM 59a) the husband must heed his wife's opinion in matters of the home. The only difference between the two opinions is whether or not he must do so in worldly matters as well...It is self understood that all spiritual matters such as Kashrus and the like are not to be left to the wives to decide..."

    The book then cites Rashi from Shabbos 118b and states "she is his house, for all matters of the house are under her authority and are governed according to her views."

    Why would Rav Klein object to these statements, since they seem to be based on Chazal?

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    1. please find me that Rashi and tell me what he says

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  19. Shabbos 118b: "R. Jose said: I have never called my wife ‘my wife’ or my ox my ox’, but my wife [I called] my home (Eishti Beisi), and my ox ‘my field’."

    Rashi on Eishti Beisi: Sh'he ikar shel bayis (she is the foundation of the home).

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    1. Don't see where it says he must obey her - or that she is the general and he is the private.

      "The Jewish Marriage" book by R. Travis cites Bava Metzia 59a and then states (p.155) "According to both explanations (in BM 59a) the husband must heed his wife's opinion in matters of the home. The only difference between the two opinions is whether or not he must do so in worldly matters as well...It is self understood that all spiritual matters such as Kashrus and the like are not to be left to the wives to decide..."

      Not sure where it says "husband must heed his wife's opinion in the matter of the home." Does that means she has absolute right to decide whether to buy Cherio's or Cornflakes? Or does it mean she can decide to spend $50,000 to renovate the kitchen? And he must keep his mouth shut? Does it mean she can invite her family over even though he doesn't like them?

      Actually if you look at the gemora it doesn't say he must obey her it says "he should follow her advice". It is clearly a suggestion not a requirement and thus it is not absolute. It is up to the husband's judgment whether or not to accept her view in a particular case.

      Bava Metzia (59a): Rav said that whoever follows his wife’s advice will go to Hell as we learn from Achav who followed his wife Isabel’s advice (Melachim 1 21:25). R’ Papa objected to Abaye by noting there is a folk expression, “If you have a short wife bend down to hear her whisper?” That is not a contradiction; it is only problematic to listen to a wife’s advice in matters of religion while it is desirable to listen to her in worldly matters.

      Meiri (Bava Metzia 59a): A person should always be careful not to embarrass his wife because she readily cries and therefore he will be punished for distressing her. The gemora states that all the heavenly gates are locked except for the Gate of Distress. From this they say that if a man wants to have domestic tranquility - all that he does with his possession and feeding his family and providing them with clothing - it should be done according to the advice of his wife. A person should also be careful with household expenditures because disputes usually involve financial issues…


      Sefer Chasidim (#135): Concerning this matter every pious person should pray to You at the time of finding (Tehilim 32:6). Our Sages (Berachos 8a) understand this verse to refer to finding a wife. In other words that G d should arrange for him to have a good wife as it says that a prudent wife is from G d (Mishlei 19:14). It is the normal practice in the world that a man is strongly influenced by his wife as it says in Melachim 1 21:25) that Isabel strongly influenced Achav to sin. ....However in worldly matters, the husband should bend down to listen to her whispers.

      Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 69:7):...Our Sages said that there is no proper woman except the one who does the will of her husband.

      אנציקלופדיה תלמודית כרך ד, [בעל] טור צג
      וכן ציוו חכמים על האשה שתהא מכבדת את בעלה ביותר מדאי407, ויהיה מוראו עליה ותעשה כל מעשיה על פיו ויהיה בעיניה כמו שר או מלך408, מהלכת בתאוות לבו ומרחקת כל מה שישנא409, ואמרו חכמים אין לך אשה כשרה בנשים, אלא אשה שהיא עושה רצון בעלה410. אין רשות לאשה לדבר במקום בעלה, שנאמר411: ואמר אבי הנערה אל הזקנים412, ולא נאמר גם אמה, כמו שכתוב בפסוק הקודם413: ולקח אבי הנערה ואמה414. יש מהראשונים מפרשים הטעם שאשה אצל בעלה אינה צריכה הסבה בליל פסח415, מפני שאימת בעלה עליה וכפופה לו41

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    2. "Rav said that whoever follows his wife’s advice will go to Hell"

      From this we learn that Avraham Avinu went to hell, since he followed the advice of his wife Sarah (in throwing out Ishmael).

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    3. indeed! you really can't control yourself can you? Avraham listened to Sara because G-d told him to do so. The gemora is making a general rule - but there clearly are exceptions and in modern times when women are at least as educated as men in halahca and hashkofa and often know more about the outside world - then the advice would not necessarily apply as it did in the time of the gemora. The gemora says not to teach Torah to women - but times have changed etc etc.

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    4. "(stuff that gave before) . . . .The gemora says not to teach Torah to women - but times have changed etc etc."

      The above is very modern orthodox of you Rav.

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  20. @DT - "It is up to the husband's judgment whether or not to accept her view in a particular case."

    "Jewish Marriage" states something very similar (p.114) "He must weight their merits (his wife's advice)on the scales of his mind. If she speaks wisely, he must follow her counsel..."

    It seems the main problem with the book is the other claim that the husband "must heed" his wife's advice.

    On issues like Cheerios v. Cornflakes, it makes sense for a man to let his wife make the decisions, even if he has a right to object.

    On the $50K kitchen, or major financial matters, if she did not claim "Aini nizonis v'eini osah" and thus spending her money, then it appears he should have the final say.

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  21. DT wrote:

    "The gemora is Eiruvin (41b): Three do not see the face of Hell. One who suffers from oppressive poverty, one who has a diseased stomach, and one who is in the custody of the government and some say one who has a bad wife. Why isn’t a bad wife mentioned in the first group? That is because it is a mitzva to divorce her and therefore he would not suffer from her. However this can not always be done since she might have a large kesuba or he has children from her and consequently can not divorce her and thus he suffers from her. However according to the view that it is a mitzva to divorce her so why include it in this list in the first place? In order to lovingly accept the suffering [since it atones for his sins – Rashi].

    It seems from this that there is a dispute whether it is a mitzva to divorce a bad wife. However both the Rambam (Hilchos gerushin 10:22) and Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 119:4) posken that it is a mitzva. Consequently the halacha is that one should divorce a bad wife - but if you can't at least accept the suffering lovingly since it - like other suffering - serves as atonement."

    My understanding of the Gemara is different. BOTH agree that in cases ehere there are children OR כתובתה מרובה (which is usually the case today because of the financial liabilities that divorce entails), divorce is NOT encouraged. The first מאן דאמר simply wasn't referring to such cases, and therefore omitted this case of אינו רואה פני גיהנם.

    That should be a powerful source for choosing TORAH BASED counseling instead - as DT quotes from the Teshuva of Rav Menashe Klein.

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  22. Another clear source for Torah based marriage counseling can be found in the Rabeinu Yona's אגרת התשובה אות ח':

    וחיבים ישראל לברר אנשים ברורים שיטילו שלום בין איש לאשתו ובין אדם לחברו שיהא בדים כח לכף ולהכיח בני אדם על השלום, ויהיו אותם הברורוים אנשים שמחים שיודעים לפיס ולרצות בני אדם להטיל שלום ולא יהיו כעסנים ורגזנים, שנאמר איש חמה יגרה מדון ונאמר מענה רך ישיב חמה, ורמרו בתלמוד על המטילים שלום: גברי בדיחי אנן ומשוינן שלמא, ואמרו חזל על האנשים האלה שהם מטילים שלום בשמחה ובטוב לבב כי מבטח להם שהם בני העולם הבא.

    I think these sources should put to rest any doubts about the importance of PROPER Marriage Counseling.

    I also think that the Rabeinu Yona is a clear condemnation of the "blaming culture" that is so rampant today in the counseling profession, which is based on coercing questionable values on one spouse (usually the husband) and totally misses the goal of the spouses both finding common meaning and understanding of each others in service of Hashem.

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  23. Ultimately, I think it's fair to say that 95% of marriage strife boils down to the unfulfilled quest for Happiness.

    Our culture is permeated with the belief that Psychology holds some special secret "key" to attaining this happiness. Many, if not most professionally trained marriage counselors try to tap into what they perceive as this "fountain of wisdom". In Chassidic communities it is often done "in sleath", but it's still the same.

    I believe this is a serious mistake. We should be looking more carefully to Chazal for the solutions that we crave.

    Religious Non-Jews have no compunctions basing their therapeutic approaches on what they call "Scriptures". Neither should we.

    Allow me to quote from a source that we would usually shy away from - the field of "Biblical Counseling" which is based on Christian sources:


    This is from an Amazon review of: When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Resources for Changing Lives) [Paperback]
    Edward T. Welch (Author)

    Take your eyes of your problems and put them on The Solution! June 1, 2007
    By Dan Panetti VINE™ VOICE
    I'll have to admit, I was a little leery of this book from the title - peer pressure, codependency - come on, another Christian psycho-babble book? But I read it since a friend was reading it and I'll admit - I was wrong. When People Are Big is an outstanding book that has something to say about the self-centered psychology of Freud and Maslow - it's all focused on the wrong thing: man. Welch, himself a Ph.D. recipient in counseling psychology chooses to focus on God's Word as the source of truth and understanding regarding the nature of man. His basic concept is that man is created to bring glory to God and in saying this notes that God has designed us with certain "needs" or "desires" that are to be fulfilled by God Himself. The problem arises, according to Welch, when we replace the proverbial God-shaped vacuum in our lives with temporal things of this world that are not only unable to satisfy our longings, but in fact prohibit God from being able to! As man turns to self for "actualitization," he finds that his highest purpose doesn't really supply meaning or significance. Only in a proper relationship with God through the sanctifying work of C on the cr can man truly understand his true nature and true self.

    Ultimately, Welch argues, the problem with man is low esteem for his Creator. If we truly lived before an Audience of One, Welch believes that many of our daily "problems" would be solved with a proper perspective - we would see ourselves in a proper light and we would see that we are not the source of that light, but created to be the reflectors of it to others. One of the great paradoxes of the Christian life is truly understanding ourselves - totally depraved and unworthy of salvation, yet by the grace of God we are made into heirs to the throne clothed with the righteousness of C Himself! The key, Welch states, is our ability to realize that this transformation from rags to riches is not based upon who we are or what we can accomplish, but rather on the work of a Holy and Merciful God.

    ---

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  24. The concept Welch builds on - of living "before an Audience of One" - is clearly stated in the Chovos Halvovos שער חשבון הנפש חשבון ל' and others. As such, from a Jewish perspective it's fair to say that he writes is בגדר "נובלות חכמה", wisdom that trickles down to Non-Jews, but really Torah based. Here's some of what the CH says:

    על כן קבל על עצמך, אחי, תנאי הגרות בעולם הזה, מפני שאתה בו גר באמת. והראיה על גירותך ויחידותך בו, כי בעת צאתך אל גדר ההוויה והרכבתך בבטן אמך, אילו היו משתדלים כל בני העולם להקדימך קודם לכן ברגע אחד, או לאחרך רגע אחד, או לקשור אבר מאבריך בחברו או להתירו, או לצייר צורה מצורות אבריך הנסתרים והנראים, או להתיר תנועה לאבר מאבריך הנחים, או להניח הנע מהם, או להחרידך לצאת מבטן אמך קודם עתך הנגזרת לך, או לאחרך אחריה כהרף עין, או להקל עליך העניין או להקשותו, - לא היו יכולים לך על זה. וכן אחר יציאתך אל העולם הזה, לא היה אדם יכול להגיע מזונך אליך מבלי עזרת האל לך, ולא להוסיף בגופך ולא לחסר ממנו. ואלו היית מעלה על לבך כי העולם כולו לך לבדך נשאר מאין יושב, לא היה זה מוסיף בטרפך המגיע אותך אל אחריתך כשיעור חרדל. וכן אילו היו נוספים אנשי העולם כפליים, לא היה חסר לך מטרפך הנגזר לך כחרדל, ולא פחות ממנו ולא יותר. וכן לא יכול אחד מן הברואים להועיל לך ולא להזיקך, ולא לאחד מהם יכולת להוסיף בימי חייך ולא לפחות מהם. וכן לכל מידותיך וטבעך ומעלליך הטובים והרעים. אם כן איזה יחס בינך ובין הברואים, או באיזה קורבה אתה קרוב אליהם או הם קרובים אליך? אתה בעולם הזה כי אם גר, שלא יועילוך רוב אנשיו, ולא יזיקוך מיעוטם. ואתה בו אלא כיחיד הבודד, אשר אין לו צוות כי אם אדוניו, ולא חומל עליו כי אם בוראו. על כן התייחד אחי בעבודתו, כאשר תתייחד בבריאותך והנהגתך וטרפך וחייך ומותך, ושים תורתו וספרו נוכח עיניך, ויחל אל גמולו ופחד מעונשו, וקבל תנאי הגר אשר העירותיך עליהם על נפשך כל ימי חייך בעולם הזה, תגיע אל נעימות העולם הבא.

    I think there's a crying need to train counselors in OUR communities to further develop such methodologies.

    I have seen first-hand how tremendously successful this can be.

    Thank You!

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  25. Gittin (90b) states For a hateful one put away:5 R. Judah said: [This means that] if you hate her you should put her away. R. Johanan says: It means, He that sends his wife away is hated. There is really no conflict between the two, since the one speaks of the first marriage and the other of the second, as R. Eleazar said: If a man divorces his first wife, even the altar sheds tears, as it says,6 And this further ye do, ye cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with sighing, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, neither receiveth it with good will at your hand. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously, though she is thy companion and the wife of thy covenant.7

    Rambam(Hilchos Gittin 10:21):לא ישא אדם אשה ודעתו לגרשה, ולא תהיה יושבת תחתיו ומשמשתו ודעתו לגרשה, ולא יגרש אדם אשתו ראשונה אלא אם כן מצא בה ערות דבר שנאמר +דברים כ"ד+ כי מצא בה ערות דבר, ואין ראוי לו למהר לשלח אשתו ראשונה, אבל שנייה אם שנאה ישלחנה

    שולחן ערוך (אבן העזר קיט:ג): לא יגרש אדם אשתו ראשונה, אלא אם כן מצא בה ערות דבר. הגה: אבל בלאו הכי אמרינן כל המגרש אשתו ראשונה מזבח מוריד עליו דמעות (טור). ודוקא בימיהם שהיו מגרשין בעל כרחה, אבל אם מגרשה מדעתה, מותר (אגודה פ' המגרש וכ"כ הר"ן). ואין ראוי לו למהר לשלח אשתו ראשונה; אבל שניה, אם שנאה, ישלחנה.

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  26. You seem to be pointing out a contradiction between the Gemara in Eruvin and the Gemara in Gittin.

    The resolution of this contradiction seems simple:

    1) Where there is an issue of מצא בה ערות דבר, always DO divorce.

    2) Where this no issue of ערות דבר, Wherever there are children involved OR divorce involves a large financial burden - DO NOT rush to divorce. This is the case in Eruvin.

    3) Where none of the above apply,and the reason for divorce is simply "hatred", it would depend on which marriage we're dealing with:
    Marriage #1: According o the Mechaber DO NOT divorce. According to the Rema, where both parties wish to divorce we shouldn't rush, but it's okay after much forethought, otherwise DO NOT divorce.
    Marriage #2: DO divorce.

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  27. Ploni wrote "I also think that the Rabeinu Yona is a clear condemnation of the "blaming culture" that is so rampant today in the counseling profession, which is based on coercing questionable values on one spouse (usually the husband) and totally misses the goal of the spouses both finding common meaning and understanding of each others in service of Hashem."

    I concede that there are rotten counselors and therapists, much as we have awful plumbers, politicians, doctors, and insurance brokers. Every field has them, and counseling is no different. However, your statement above is a gross generalization that is rarely, if ever, true. Actually, training in therapy and counseling is skewed against imposing one's values on the clients. The word blame is brought into the therapy room by the client, not the therapist. The trained therapist seeks to banish the word and concept, as it has no benefit, and may even detract the client from getting healthy or growing.

    While there are many reasons to seek the services of a frum therapist, this generalization of yours is not on the list. Of course, a couple seeking help may each have individual issues that feed the problem, but that is not the immediate focus of the marital counselor. Those who are properly trained know this well, and are capable of sorting out thse issues. Rather, it is the untrained counselor who uses these "logical" approaches that don't work instead of tested and proven techniques.

    Just to reiterate, professionally trained therapists and counselors do NOT waste time and effort in the "blaming culture".

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  28. Let me explain further.

    Although many counselors PURPORT to take a neutral stance during counseling sessions, it is fair to say that if spouse #1 commits acts that are considered "beyond the pale" that spouse #2 abhors, the counselor's would be to steer spouse #1 to act more "normatively". Correct?

    It would also be correct to assume that the counselor's beliefs in what is considered "normative" would play a major role in the direction of the sessions. Even if the counselor refrains from verbal comments, the issue of counter-transference is always present. Correct?

    Now to my main point: What if a wife abhors her husbands adherence to the set of values laid out in Rav Menashe klein's Teshuva, and he spends his time engrossed in Spiritual pursuits, ambivalent to his wife's need for praise and attention. Offering a word here and there, physical sustenance and Chinuch for the children. But SHE WANTS MORE.

    Would the counselor remain neutral, to the point that counter-transference would not occur?

    My assumption is that when the Rabeinu Yona says:

    ויהיו אותם הברורוים אנשים שמחים שיודעים לפיס ולרצות בני אדם להטיל שלום

    the "normative" Sholom he's talking about is something very similar to Rav Kleins, as anyone who learns the שערי תשובה could figure out.

    So seeking a FRUM therapist might actually be WORSE. A frum therapist might think that he KNOWS what yiddishkeit entails, and see the husband as some "frummy", while the non-Jew might stand to the side, so as not to be accused ethics transgressions and a lack of "Cultural Competence", in contravention of the APA Guidelines.

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    1. Ploni:

      There you go again. Generalizing without the slightest basis. Sounds like you have an agenda,though I'm not clear what it is.

      I know quite a few frum therapists. All those I know are tightly connected to the Torah world, either talmidei chachomim in their own right, or maintaining close connections with recognized gedolim, poskim, and rabbonim. The accusation that a frum therapist is apt to be so arrogant to believe they know better than Chazal is baseless, and is in fact not true. (I admit there is the occasional rotten apple, as would be found in any field).

      One of the difficulties in handling many of the lines excerpted from tshuvos, including that of Rav Klein Z"L, as well as Rambam, Sh"A, etc. is that the terms are being misinterpreted and erroneously translated. The discussion about מלך is taken to connote a position of dominance, being the elite boss. Nothing is farther from the truth. There is no Torah prescription for marriage that advocates abusiveness, bullying, coercion, or slavery. Quite the contrary. In fact, there are delineated roles in marriage, among which there are services the wife provides the husband, and others the husband provides the wife. The concept of love being the bond is repeated throughout Torah, both written and oral, and the oppressiveness often suggested by the misinterpretations is inconsistent with this.

      The role of the counselor is to mediate the differences and to help the two individuals grow back together. There are various approaches and techniques to the actual work, but "fixing" things by forcing subjugation is neither effective nor Torah sanctioned. "Frumkeit" might be an issue, often with someone who seeks the external aspects of this while lacking the internal spiritual growth to be consistent. There is no Torah support to force a woman to follow her husband's "frumme shtick" when it is really a charade. But the trained counselor does not need to dictate that, just to guide the discussion so that the parties can realize this.

      It seems you are less informed about the therapeutic process than most professionals are, and your conclusions about them are wholly inaccurate.

      You are probably correct in suggesting that most of the seforim are saying the same thing. I am just impressed that you believe in the completely chauvinistic interpretation as Torah compatible, which it is not. I do not look favorably on the extremes of the feminist movement either. The happy medium is somewhere in the middle, and our baalei mussar have given us much grounding to help find it.

      Delete
    2. "One of the difficulties in handling many of the lines excerpted from tshuvos, including that of Rav Klein Z"L, as well as Rambam, Sh"A, etc. is that the terms are being misinterpreted and erroneously translated."

      Huh? Are you trying to make Rav Klien's POV match your own, and explaining away any differences as errors of translation???

      What you're really doing is proving my point more than I ever could.

      I hope we're not dealing with a case where the therapist knows that his job requires him to remain neutral, so when the evidence doesn't match his pre-conception of what's "normative", he takes free license and simply feigns ignorance of any opposing view.

      You write: "There is no Torah prescription for marriage that advocates abusiveness, bullying, coercion, or slavery."

      Of course not - did Rabbi Akiva's wife consider herself to be his slave? Or did Reb Elchonon Wasserman's wife consider herself one, since the Chofetz Chaim didn't allow him to go home for his own sons Bris?

      Who sets the standards for how to define love - from a Torah True standpoint.

      Pray tell me, where you get the notion that the man I spoke about before, who: "spends his time engrossed in Spiritual pursuits, ambivalent to his wife's need for praise and attention. Offering a word here and there, physical sustenance and Chinuch for the children. But SHE WANTS MORE" deserves the negative adjectives that you throw about with such abandon?

      You write:
      "Frumkeit" might be an issue, often with someone who seeks the external aspects of this while lacking the internal spiritual growth to be consistent. There is no Torah support to force a woman to follow her husband's "frumme shtick" when it is really a charade".

      Not sure what you mean with "lacking the internal spiritual growth to be consistent". Do you propose some "litmus test" that the husband must pass, before he can forego shmoozing every night with his wife, regardless of the fact that he uses his time as I mentioned "for spiritual pursuits"?


      You don't sound very tolerant of such people. And that's the best proof that many if not most counselors think that they can act as the judge and jury in deciding what is "normative".

      Delete
    3. Let me add one point, vis-a-vis what you write that " I am just impressed that you believe in the completely chauvinistic interpretation as Torah compatible, which it is not".

      Those trained in secular concepts find it hard to believe that simple, sincere people can actually find true happiness and contentment from totally surrendering to Hashem's will and from striving to do His will. They find it even more unbelievable that TWO married people can find common ground in such pursuits - and actually see it as CENTRAL to their way of life, and not just as some "peripheral" obligations that are auxiliary to their goals and aspirations.

      I think that counselors lacking this concept of True inner-happiness shouldn't meddle in other peoples lives, as the repercussions can be terrible.

      Delete
    4. "people can actually find true happiness and contentment from totally surrendering to Hashem's will and from striving to do His will. "

      of course you understand that the above statement is filled with its own preconceived notions? like "surrender" "hashem's will", and if i were to put more thought into it, i could think of more.

      "lacking this concept of True inner-happiness": should frum counselors refuse secular patients?

      btw: i've been to counseling, with a totally secular psychologist. from what i could tell, he probably eats on YK. however, he didn't impose anything.

      an incompetent counselor is an incompetent counselor, period.

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    5. BW writes:
      "the above statement is filled with its own preconceived notions? like "surrender" "hashem's will""

      That's 100% correct. And religious Jews define "surrender" and "Hashem will" based on how their "rabbinical religious authority" would define it. Furthermore, that authority is obligated to use the corpus of standing Jewish law as his source. Rav Klein did exactly that, but some people chalk up the things he writes that they don't like to "errors of translation".

      Rubbish.

      Delete
    6. BW also asks: "should frum counselors refuse secular patients?"

      Good question. Say that a formerly frum couple both agree to "frei out", and argue about the timing and pace of how & when to C"V give up Shabbos, kashrus, etc. Is a frum therapist allowed to "mediate" without inserting "his" value system?

      There could be issues of מסייע לידי עוברי עבירה. It's a question for a competent Rov.

      Delete
    7. more from BW:
      " i've been to counseling, with a totally secular psychologist. from what i could tell, he probably eats on YK. however, he didn't impose anything. "

      The effects of transference are pernicious. Subtle and gradual and often unnoticed. It goes hand in hand with the "need to please" that's a human trait, as the Rambam mentions in Hilchos Dayos.

      We want to be liked, we don't want to seen as unfair, rigid, dogmatic.

      I wouldn't be surprised that if you were able to carefully compared your beliefs and traits pre and post counseling that you would find a gradual shift, and not necessarily one based on ration, conscience thought.

      That's what advertising campaigns try to do - shift the "groupthink" concerning issues of the day.

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    8. i'd be surprised because beliefs, religious practices, stuff like that never came up.

      now you are letting your per-conceived notions affect you. quite a bit arrogant of you to tell me that i changed without knowing me in the least.

      Delete
    9. "Is a frum therapist allowed to "mediate" without inserting "his" value system?"

      he is their therapist, not their rav. rabbis shouldn't be therapists and therapists shouldn't be rabbis. and even if the person is trained in both he has to keep the roles separate.

      if the therapists ever gets into a situation where he feels that the necessary technique violates some religious belief of his, he is free to say "sorry guys i can't help you. here is the phone number of someone who can".

      Delete
  29. Another way of saying the same thing is mentioned in "Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture" by David Powlison:

    His argument: The problem with current counseling practices is that the counselor is seen as "primary" while God (if He is even considered at all in the process) is usually "secondary" (178).

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    1. And if the counselor or therapist is either untrained or just plain awful, he/she will permit that primary/secondary stuff. I do not believe that "current counseling pratices" is generally true - for the frum therapists I know. At the end of it all, the degree to which one brings real spirituality into their marriage is the degree of bliss that will exist. The presence of אמונה פשוטה only matters when it is in HKB"H, not any member of the human race. There is a transferential relationship with the therapist that is expected and recognized, even in modalities that are not focused on psychoanalytic principles. Good therapists are aware of this, and seek to insure that such feelings do not become ingrained. Part of termination from therapy is assuring that this issue is resolved. But the role of the counselor taking priority to G-D? That's a bit far-fetched, and certainly not in the current practice of therapy/counseling within the community of frum therapists.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure you understand Powlison's argument, which I believe is powerful and very relevant to frum therapists.

      A cornerstone of many psychoanalytical treatments is the power of trust in the client-therapist relationship. Te client ends up changing because of the relationship of trust that he has with the therapist. In simplistic terms - he's changing to please the therapist.

      This can be seen as compromising basic tenets of Judaisim in the very common instances where the client's level of observance is higher than that of the therapist, or in the even more common scenario where he is suffering from emotional trauma and unsure of his convictions.

      The religious response would be to check what Hashem's will is, based on Chazal, and then have the therapist gradually guide the client in that direction. THIS should be the definition of "normative".

      The "religious response" is indeed followed in the Non-Jewish world of "Bible therapy", but we frum Jews seem to never embraced it.

      Many Rabonim, when asked about treatment for emotional issues, simply counsel the use of a frum therapist.

      Unfortunately, from what I've seen so far, even frum therapist rarely use a "religious response".

      It usually becomes a case of "circular reasoning" where the therapist claims Rabbinac authority based on the fact that the Rabbi sent the client, and the Rabbi claiming ignorance of what goes on in the therapist's office.

      I believe that this needs to change.

      A "religious response" would avoid much strife, by giving everyone clear goals to meet - namely Torah based goals. No different than what "bible therapy' does, but using Chazal as the source and NOT just the inspiration.

      This

      Delete
    3. The position you quote from Powlison challenges the entire realm of "frum therapists", who are now challenged with engaging in a practice that is against Torah value. I find this argument bizarre, though worthy of discussion. I seriously doubt that the generalization of changing to please the therapist is valid. Rather, the client approaches the professional with profound issues of unhappiness, and wants to change to please him/herself, because he/she feels miserable. The therapist guides the client to accomplish that. Powlison's argument (as you reported, I never read it) ascribes far more depth to the transference relationship than most therapists believe.

      I've been in therapy myself. Never for a moment was I interested in pleasing a therapist, just in overcoming my issue.

      You are quite accurate in your assessment that the referring rabbi generally has no idea what occurs in the therapist's office. That's why they often make referrals that are off target, and that's why they make so many snafus in trying to handle situations on their own that are way beyond their domain.

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    4. from RD: "the entire realm of "frum therapists", who are now challenged with engaging in a practice that is against Torah value".
      Perhaps. Does that invalidate the argument?

      also from RD: "I've been in therapy myself. Never for a moment was I interested in pleasing a therapist, just in overcoming my issue."
      Of course. It's unconscious. Nobody becomes a fan of the hometown baseball team in order to be a crowd-pleaser. But after a while he cheers on the team along with all the other fans, anyway.

      Delete
  30. 2 ideas of sources:
    1) הא שלמה אמרה (משלי יב) דאגה בלב איש ישחנה ר' אמי ור' אסי חד אמר ישיחנה מדעתו וחד אמר ישיחנה לאחרים
    Sanhedrin 100b
    If you're having trouble, speak about it to others - depending on how you learn pshat - if you ask for advice. Though there may be other pshatim to learn.
    2) if the mizbeach sheds tears for divorce, it (the marriage) must be important enough to try to save.

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  31. Actually, the sources cited in this post are interesting, since they do not place any emphasis on the stability of marriage.

    In earlier discussions (about Gittin) some commentators stated that "stability" was very important in jewish marriage, that's why a woman should not be allowed to determine that she wants a divorce when she is not satisfied with the marriage.

    Apparently, this idea is a distortion that came in the middle ages, but was not present in talmudic times.

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  32. Rabbi Yair HoffmanOctober 24, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Disagree – [that there is no source for counseling DT] see Aruch HaShulchan Even HaEzer 154:18 that we always try
    to make shalom first. Lest youthink this is just a modern posaik’s
    thoughts see Rashi Shmos 20:21 that one who engages in making peace
    between man and his wife – i.e. counseling puraniyos do not come to
    him It comes from the Sifra in Vayorah 10:10… This was done as a
    matter of course by the Kohanim, which is btw, why they merited the
    Mitzvah of Sotah – see Rav Yoseph Karo’s uncle on Chumash (Toldos
    Yitzchok Bamidbar 5:12) and why Aharon merited the Dam makeh (see
    Alshich Shmos 7).
    We also find that a husband alone is granted the ability to undo an
    adult woman’s vows – a father can only undo his younger daughter’s
    vow. Why was he granted this power? For the purpose of Shalom bayis.
    He was granted this extra power to make his wife happy..

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    1. Rabbi Hoffman all the sources you cite do not involve counseling- except for perhaps Aharon himself. The Aruch HaShulchan is referring to stopping violence against a wife - but not by counseling. The Cohanim used the Sotah ritual but no mention of counseling. That goes also for the Rashi and Toldos Yitzhok also.

      In sum - these sources talk about Shalom Bayis in a different sense then is used today and do not involved counseling or giving advice.

      Delete
    2. Why do you need to find a source for counseling for shalom bayis? Is there a source for counseling for panic attacks? ADD? Poor social skills?

      Delete
  33. Three Sources:

    1) I'm still not sure why the Rabeinu Yonah mentioned earlier doesn't pass muster:
    חיבים ישראל לברר אנשים ברורים שיטילו שלום בין איש לאשתו ובין אדם לחברו שיהא בדים כח לכף ולהכיח בני אדם על השלום

    2) Along another vein, the source can be the mitzvah of תוכחה as per the explanation of the Rishonim that הוכיח תוכיח is a continuation of לא תשנא את אחיך, namely - talk it through. The counselor acts as facilitator for the "talk it through" process". This would be based on the Rambam in Hilchos Dayos, who implies that תוכחה applies to Midos, too.

    3) I've also mentioned the Gemara in eruvin that says not to rush to divorce when large financial issues or children are involved. Coupled with the Gemar in the second perek of Kedushin, that one shouldn't marry without first seeing his future spouse so as not to be עובר on ואהבת לרעך כמוך - it stands to reason that they should seek ways too be able to not despise each others.

    Rabbi Hoffman - I'm a fan of yours. I appreciate your lucid, scholarly articles!

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  34. Shalom Kevod Harav,
    For more than 30 years, I have been married to a Jewish woman who is saintly in all matters except she does not keep Shabbos. For the first 10 years of our marriage, I was not a Shabbos observer but became observant even as she stubbornly refused to do so. As we grow older, I feel increasingly isolated although she is perfectly content to continue as is. I have great compassion for her since she is a fine human being. Still, I feel that I could probably make more progress in my life if she were not my wife.
    Should we divorce or continue together?
    Behokara ubevrachot,
    Michael

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    1. you're asking for real advice on this of issue on a public forum????

      Delete
    2. Michael this is a very serious question. do you have a rav that you ask questions? If so what did he tell you.

      If you want to explain in a guest post why she doesn't want to be observant and why you think that it is keeping you from making progess - it should be helpful to others since the issue is an important problem in the modern world.

      However for you to get a meaningful answer for yourself you really need to speak to a rav who knows you well and your wife well or can get to know your better. Blog comments are not the best place to get a personal answer.

      Delete
  35. Shalom Kvod Harav,
    There is no rav who knows me, no rav who has ever cared to know me, but that's ok. As soon as they get a whiff of my dilemma, they keep their distance. Here's the rub: I do not know a single person whose midot are on the level of my wife's. I am acquainted with many shomer shabbos women who cannot approach my wife in the areas of tznius, optimism, and generosity, both materially and spiritually. When I first started to be shomer shabbos, we had loud arguments. In fact, we probably argued for about 10 years. Finally, we just stopped and silently agreed to disagree. My three children are now in their 20's. All have respect for yiddishkeit. Two do not keep shabbos while the third is a very strict shabbos observer and learns in a yeshiva. All three have outstanding midot. Getting a personal answer in this forum is not vital but I still wanted to share my experience. This is really a great test from Hashem. He wants to see how badly I want to keep Shabbos. Also, there is always the possibility, however remote, that my wife could become shomer Shabbos. And, in the end, if one Jew does not keep Shabbos, it is every other Jew's responsibility to change that behavior and, if we truly want Moshiach, we know his arrival depends on each Jew keeping Shabbos. I should mention that my wife regularly buys chalot on erev Shabbos and, upon prompting, lights Shabbat candles. She also does netilas yadayim. Also, my wife welcomes my saying kiddush for her and participates in havdalah.

    ReplyDelete

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