Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rav Y. Kaminetski: Understanding Marriage through Divorce

Rav Yaakov Kaminetski (Emes L’Yaakov, Devarim 24:1): In the Mishna (Gittin 90a) there is a dispute between Tannaim. Beis Hillel says that a man can divorce his wife even if she ruined his food while Rabbi Akiva says even if he found another woman who is prettier than his wife.... This dispute needs further clarification as to why the Torah would permit a man to divorce his wife for such trivial reasons. What horrible thing did she do that justified divorce? In fact it seems the Torah is clarifying to us the underlying dynamics of a viable marriage. The fact is in order to have a good marriage, it is necessary for every man to view his wife has the most wise, the most beautiful and the most wonderful all the women in the world ( And similarly she needs to have comparable thoughts about him.) Therefore if he happens to discover another woman to be more beautiful than her that is an indication that he no longer views his wife as the most beautiful. Thus this is a sign that the marriage is not working out. Similarly this is true regarding the fact that she ruins his food. There is a general rule that a person doesn’t view anything wrong with himself. For example if it happens that he mistakenly said something that he didn’t want to say, there is no question that he won’t get angry with his tongue – since he is his tongue and his tongue is he. Consequently if he feels any criticism against her such as that she is ruining his meals – this is a sign that he doesn’t feel the necessary unity with her and thus the marriage is not working out. Therefore he is able to divorce her. Thus we see that the ruining of the food is not the cause of divorce but rather the cause is the fact that he feels a need to criticize her.
Sanhedrin (7a): When the love between me and my wife [Rashi] was intense a bed the width of a blade [of a sword – Rashi] was enough to lie one. However now that our love is not so intense – a bed the width of sixty cubits is not sufficient to lie on [Rashi].

15 comments:

  1. It's a nice philosophy for the perfect marriage but what about the poor wife who got kicked out for the crime of burning hubby's soup?

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    1. He is explaining the gemora - which is concerned with what justification the husband needs. the poor wife is protected by rabbinic laws such as kesuba or Rabbeinu Gershom

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    2. I don't understand: if she burns the meal, can he kick her out with ketuba or without ketuba?

      If with ketuba, why does he need a reason at all? He can just kick her out.

      If without ketuba - where is the protection?

      Rabbeine gershon came later - so what has this to do? If she refuses the get although she burned the soup - can she be overruled and he can remarry? If not: how does the burned soup help the husband in giving his get?

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    3. She gets a kesuba. No he can not kick her out unless she did something wrong i.e., burn the food or he hates her. Yes you are correct that this discussion applies before Rabbeinu Gershom or in a case she agrees to be divorced

      ערוך השולחן אבן העזר הלכות גיטין סימן קיט

      כתיב [דברים כד, א - ב] כי יקח איש אשה ובעלה והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו כי מצא בה ערות דבר וכתב לה ספר כריתות ונתן בידה ושלחה מביתו והלכה והיתה לאיש אחר ותנן שילהי גיטין בית שמאי אומרים לא יגרש אדם את אשתו אא"כ מצא בה ערות דבר דדרשי ליה לקרא כפשטיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו לפי שמצא בה ערות דבר ובית הלל סברי אפילו הקדיחה תבשילו דדרשי לקרא הכי כי מצא בה ערות דבר או ערוה או דבר אחר שפשעה כנגדו ור' עקיבא סבר אפילו מצא אחרת נאה הימנה דדריש לקרא הכי והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו פירוש חן של נוי או שמצא בה ערות דבר והלכה כב"ה שאם פשעה כנגדו יכול לגרשה אבל לא יגרשנה כדי ליקח נאה הימנה [טור]:

      ערוך השולחן אבן העזר הלכות גיטין סימן קיט

      סעיף ב
      הנביא מלאכי אמר [ב, טז] כי שנא שלח ואמרו חז"ל [שם] חד אמר אם שנאתה שלח כר"ע [רש"י] וחד אמר שנאוי המשלח לפני המקום [שם] ולא פליגי הא בזווג ראשון הא בזווג שני דאמר ר"א כל המגרש אשתו ראשונה אפילו מזבח מוריד עליו דמעות ודריש לה מקרא שם ודווקא כשמגרשה בע"כ אבל כשגירשה מרצונה לית לן בה [ב"י] ולפ"ז לדידן שיש חרם דרבינו גרשום על גט בע"כ ליתא להאי דינא [עי' חמ"ח סק"ב דגם בכה"ג לא ימהר לגרשה]:


      ערוך השולחן אבן העזר הלכות גיטין סימן קיט

      סעיף ג

      לפמ"ש מתבאר דב"ה לא קאמרי רק בזווג ראשון אבל בזווג שני ס"ל כר"ע דאפילו מצא אחרת נאה הימנה יכול לגרשה אבל מדברי הטור מתבאר דלב"ה בין בזווג ראשון ובין בזווג שני אין לו לגרשה בשביל אחרת נאה הימנה דקרא דכי מצא בה ערות דבר אתרווייהו קאי [פרישה] וגם בזווג שני לא יגרשה אלא אם כן הקדיחה תבשילו וכיוצא בזה שיש לו עליה שנאה ובזה אומר הנביא אם שנאת שלח וכן מסתבר דבאחרת נאה הימנה לא שייך עליה לומר ששנאה [ב"ח] אמנם בזווג ראשון אף על גב שהתורה התירה לו לגרשה בכה"ג מ"מ לא ימהר לגרשה ושנאוי המשלח אא"כ מצא בה ערות דבר או פריצות וכן מתבאר מדברי הרמב"ם פ"י מגירושין דין כ"א ע"ש וכן כוונת רבותינו בעלי הש"ע בסעי' ג' [וזהו שהגיה הרמ"א אבל בלא"ה וכו' לבאר כוונת הב"י דאינו פוסק כב"ש ומתורץ מה שהקשו המפרשים וזהו כוונת הגר"א ודו"ק]:

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  2. Sanhedrin (7a)
    are you sure that's the source ?

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  3. סנהדרין ז.

    ההוא דהוה קאמר ואזיל: כי רחימתין הוה עזיזא - אפותיא דספסירא שכיבן, השתא דלא עזיזא רחימתין - פוריא בר שיתין גרמידי לא סגי לן.

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  4. Another explanation I have heard - the case being discussed by the ruining of the food is part of a pattern of passive aggressive behavior on the part of the wife against the husband.

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    1. i read that in Morocco, if a girl does not want a shidduch (who comes for coffee, in order to get aquainted), she puts salt in his coffee instead of sugar, so that he should understand she does not want him...

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  5. 99.9% of people would have to be completely or extremely unaware of the reality of their lives if they believe that their spouse is the most X, Y, Z in the world. the opposite - thinking that and than finding out the reality is a problem. understanding, from the very start, that your partner has baggage, flaws, issues (as do you) is what will enable you to deal with them from a position of strength.

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  6. This explanation is fraught with problems. As Ben Waxman suggested, it is not even healthy for a person to think their spouse is the best everything. Idealizing one's partner is usually a result of infatuation and a cause of failed marriage.

    Second, it seems outlandish to think that every couple can reach that level of unity right away. It takes many years of work to get to a point where a couple really feels like a single person. To suggest that a couple that is not at that level is ready for divorce does not strike me as a healthy approach.

    Finally (though this could go on a while), if not feeling total unity or not believing one's wife is the wisest, prettiest, etc. is cause for divorce, why doesn't it work the other way? Can we force a divorce if she doesn't think he's so great? What if she feels the need to criticize his carpentry - is the marriage therefore doomed and therefore we can force a get? Obviously not.

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    1. Rav Yaakov is trying to explain the gemora as to why a husband would want a divorce based on either his wife ruining the meals or finding someone he feels his more attractive. That in fact is the halacha of the gemora [modified obviously by the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom which prevents her the wife from being forced to accept a divorce. Man in fact - assuming he could afford the kesuba - had every right to demand a divorce if he didn't like her. Rav Yaakov is explaining the nature of marriage through this understanding. Marriage should be filled with love so that the urge to criticize is not there - as is seen in the gemora Sanhedrin 7a.

      In sum, Rav Yaakov is describing the reality from the man's point of view during Talmudic times when the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom was not yet enacted.

      This is another piece of evidence that there was no relevance for shalom bayis counseling. The burden was on the wife to keep the husband interested.

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    2. unless one believes in shinui teva, than there is no way that people's perception of reality changed that much.

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    3. I think rav kamenetskis explanation is pure speculation, or a poetic attempt to make the halacha according to the gemara fit with our present moral perception which favors monogamy.

      But the statement that a man could divorce his wife for no reason at all or for futile reasons, provided the man could afford the ketuba is interesting because it proves that STABILITY is not and never was a priority in jewish marriage.

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    4. Important observation. First you should note that it was only in regard to the 2nd marriage. Divorce from first marriages was strongly discouraged. It seems that stability was brought about first by the kesuba and then by the complexity of the get procedure and then later by Rabbeinu Gershom's cherem that prohbited forcing women to accept a get.

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    5. Well, in fact Rabbi Gershom's ruling disavowed the halacha from the gemara.

      If it was the gemara's explicit wish that a man can divorce his wife for burning a meal or because he found one that pleases him more, who is Rabbi Gershom to say he can't just because the divorcee does not like it?

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