Friday, December 27, 2013

BOO-AH ! Letting go of a dead marriage

A response to a commenter on MH's post about divorce-impasse by Faithful

I would like to relate to a commenter named "M", who wrote, on December 26, on MH's post:
The bottom line here is that we must fight DIVORCE itself. We must stop the divorce racket. We must stop divorce-on-demand. We must encourage and push and even pressure couples to remain married and not divorce.

Many many many Gedolim and even sociologists have said divorce is far far too easy and far far too frequent. Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l said many times that 99% of divorces in the Orthodox community were avoidable and should not have happened.

My perspective is very fresh and very real, having been dragged into the Israeli state divorce courts, kicking and screaming, over the last three years, with the claim that I can't grant my wife of over 25 years a unilateral divorce if she refuses to first go to counseling with me about it. Now, for the first time, just this week, my wife has agreed to consider the counseling. 

The surrealism of how "the system" was intent on ramming a divorce down my throat reached its zenith about a month ago, when I went to visit the great, virtually mythic sage of Bnei Brak – HaRav Chaiim Kanievsky. I'm not in the camp of those who revere his every word and gesture, but I have a neighbor who is, in a quite sober way, and offered to take me to him for a quick question and answer on my tortured topic. He offered to write it up for me in Hebrew and to present to him as a brief note, in order to respect the Rav's proverbial penchant for curt.

So we did. His note basically said: "this avreich has had a long and blessed marriage, with successful chareidi kids, bli ayin ha'ra, but now his wife suddenly wants out. She even turned to a notorious modern orthodox feminist organization to help her heap wild claims against him in the state rabbinical court. He wants advice."

We get to his apartment on motzei Shabbos and are amazed to easily walk in to see him. He's hunched over his shtender, of course, learning. Note is presented, he asks a tiny clarification: Am I a Cohen? I say no. Not whatsoever. He frowns and makes a wave of dismissal. "So what do you need this for? Let her go."

I'm taken aback. I respond under my breath, and my neighbor will repeat it loud enough so he can hear it, that I'm worried about the integrity of my family, about my reputation, about the fact that someone so close to me is waging a smear campaign against me in court, with the help of some quasi-religious ideologues. And last but not least – I still feel love for her.

He frowns some more and tells me to daven. Then says the clincher: "BOO-AH"! 

Whoa. It felt like a bad joke, with a razor blade. My neighbor urges us to leave, and while on the way out explains: Its short for "Bracha v'Hatzlocho!" 


Ok. Gottit. But it really didn't feel ok. So I let it sink in, eventually realizing how symbolic it was. It's actually riveting in its clarity. The message: "I couldn't give a damn! You shouldn't either."

Truly mind-boggling to get such a message from a "Gadol". But there it was. "Why hold on to a woman who doesn't want you? Why not just let her go already. Boo-ah!"

To be sure, many far from Gadolim say it too. I heard divorce court judge say: "it doesn't matter if she's right, and it doesn't matter if you feel your life and that of the children will be seriously diminished if the marriage is dismantled the way she wants. If she wants out, you’re ABUSING HER to stand in her way!!"

Now let's get this clear. I'm not trying to knock Gadolim, chv"sh, and I certainly am not trying to belittle the idea that there are times to move on past a dying marriage. But I am devastated to realize that men within our holiest communities are being warned, on one extreme, that if their wife might feel that she is fed up with him – run after her and say: "here dear, please take this Get, with my blessing." 

On the other extreme –"Booh-ah". Spit on the marriage, and move on. 

Now, my friends – this is the rub. While I agree with the claim that women have the right to end an unhappy marriage, and men certainly have the right to sneer back, that's only if that's ALL she's seeking. Unfortunately, many women are claiming much more. They are using hyper sensitivities over how halacha makes them unfairly vulnerable, in order to demonize their man. For women with deep wounds in relation to the men of their childhood – that feels reeeel good. The Kabbalists call it klippa. 

Klippa, literally peel, is an energy which obstructs our capacity to deal with the "fruit" of a spiritual challenge. In our case, this klippa of divorce-on-demand mania deflects genuine problem solving intentions into dog-eat-dog legalities. Like when your formally very good friends and rabbonim, who once fully supported your pursuit of Sholom Bayis, start whispering: "why do you need this hassle?" 

My response, over and over again, is: "Because it's a MITZVAH. Sholom Bayis is in fact a MAJOR Mitzvah. Then there's the possibility, like in our case, that a marriage b'kedusha has an established positive track record which screams against the ethic that when the going gets rough – escape! How about the profound ingratitude to our Creator it is to chuck out such a blessing like a marriage without serious examination of the issues that led to its breakdown? Last but not least - I believe that divorcing with all the slander and demonization that my wife wants would cause irreparable damage to the kids and quite possibly our future generations."

They all hear. But eventually they sigh and say: "But is it really worth the hassle?"

And I know, deep inside, in their religious conscience, that they agree with my position. Some even admire it. It's just that in their outer, more "realistic" side, they can't resist the klippa of saying…                     BOO-AH.


  1. Congratulations to rav Kamenitsky. He is a decent man.

    If you already went and asked him, why can't you obey him?

    1. I doubt and seriously question the accuracy of what is being quoted in Rav Kanievsky's name in the above guest post.

    2. Especially considering his admitted misunderstanding of Boo Ah, which he in all likelihood misheard or imagined hearing, which his friend told him what actually was said was "Bracha v'Hatzlocho". And yet guest writer "Faithful" still goes on demeaning a godol for a term he misunderstood.

      I doubt the entire story is accurate insofar as to the claim that Rav Chaim told him to just divorce. It is the polar opposite of the well known shittos of Rav Chaim.

      I even wonder if the writer is simply one of the many unfortunates who hate gedolim and invent untruths to attack them.

    3. If R' Kaminetsky already paskened to cease and desist, why doesn't doodleson obey him? isn't he also decent? Would you congratulate him as well?

    4. He is known to speak with rosheTevos

    5. Tuli - sorry, but you're mistaken. I have great respect for many Gedoilim, and certainly WANT to respect all of them, but like is often discussed in this blog, I am not blind to their fallibilities. Re. that incident, I wasn't sure what I heard when my neighbor (a mashgiakh in a yeshiva) said it's time to go. It was HE who explained that it was "boo-ah" and a known way the Rav gives that bracha. Bottom line - the neighbor himself emphasized that the Rav was not giving a psak or hor'aa, but simple advice (since she seems so adamant, why hang on). My point was the obvious lack of interest in the fine lines of the human element, and yes, the seeming disregard for the greatness of the mitzvah of redifas shalom.

  2. the issue is if she is going to arko"oys to destroy you you should not give her a get until she stops destroying you.

    1. Stan, so the opinion of the Godol HaDor means nothing to you?

    2. I don't think she is going to arkayos, it sounds like she is going to a state instituted bais din... which many charaidim don't consider a good bais din.

  3. Possibly, Rav Chaim doesn't think that is what this is about, rather it is a way to exert control over ones almost-ex spouse.

  4. well you are so clueless it is kanievsky.

    well why don't you ask him if one can go to secular court?

  5. At the end of the day you cannot force someone to love you. If a woman says she's done, very rarely will you be able to hold a gun to her head and live happily ever after. Believe me, I think it is horrible that many women are led to believe that they will be much happier on their own than married, but once they get that point, for whatever reason, the man needs to be a man and face facts. Yelling "SHALOM BAYIS!" on your own never works. If she is not into it, and is dragged to the therapist kicking and screaming, you are both wasting your time and energy. It's not that R' Chaim didn't give a darn. I believe this is probably what he was trying to tell you. He wanted you to understand that there's not much you can do, and that you need to accept the inevitable. He's 100% correct.

    Yes, you can halchicly withhold a get indefinitely if she has no grounds. But what good will that do ultimately? The best idea is to move on and find someone who doesn't actually hate you. I know it's hard to go through, but this is good advice. The bigger stink you make and the more you act like a jerk during the process, the less desirable you will be on the secondary shidduch market.

    On the other hand, if the woman runs to secular court, steals the kids, demands certain things against halacha, etc., etc., you are nuts if you hand over a get before everything is done. You need to be able to have a life, and just because you want to be a mentch does not mean you should forfeit your future life by giving in to unreasonable demands/situations.

    1. Incorrect. A husband has every right to insist and hold out for however long he deems appropriate, even indefinitely, a demand for Shalom Bayis and not divorce.

    2. Michelob,
      Very nice. First of all I don't personally know about the facts in the above. But, if it was true, I want to present some halacha ideas. As Michelob points out, there are halacha grounds and there are times when the man himself wants to go on with life because his wife is not coming back. What halacha pointers are there?
      First of all, it is a sin for a man to live without a functioning marriage for two reasons, one is kedusho, that a man, especially one who is used to being married, cannot live day to day in a world such as we have without great temptations and it is a sin in of itself to be in such a world without the protection of a functioning marriage. Also, there is a mitsvah to have children and more children. One who is in a broken marriage cannot have children.
      Another point, when the wife comes to Beth Din and says she cannot stand the husband, that he repels her, etc., the rabbis cannot know the truth, only guess it. But the husband knows the truth. If he knows that she truly cannot stand him it is possible that he has to force himself to give a GET! Because the idea of the Rambam that a woman is not a slave to live with someone she despises is rejected basically because we don't believe the woman, otherwise every woman could just make such a claim and leave the family. But if the husband knows the truth, he is living in sin according to the Rambam, and just possibly according to halacha. I don't know if anyone disagrees with the basic premise of the Rambam that a woman is not a slave.
      Furthermore, the years of bickering and counseling and whatever must be put in perspective. What will be the bottom line? Will the wife come back? If the husband has a reasonable chance to get her back, that is one thing. But if he knows that there is little chance of that happening, he is spinning his wheels, and avoiding remarriage which is obligatory upon him as I explained.
      The author of the above post says that his wife has finally agreed to therapy. I would like to find out in a year or two, if she is back, and if not, where is the GET?

  6. there is something called a hetter meah which needs to be used in this dor when women go to arko"oys although in reality most poskim hold that a man does not need a hetter when the women is a moredes. A moredes is someone who refuses to go to bais din as per the Divrei Chaim zechuso yogein oleinu.

    I am not advocating staying in a marriage with a machashefifoh. But if she is in arko'oys it shows that she has rejected the Torah so why then does she need a get to get remarried? You can't reject part of the Torah and hold of the other part. Once you go to arko'oys you are announcing to the world you don't believe in Torah miSinai so just move out and shack up with someone as Gittel the poster girl advocates.

    feminists are reading into R Kanievsky's words what he never said. he never said to give a wife in arko"oys a get. he can't and he wont this is against the Torah.

  7. being a mentch means not giving into a machashefa because the minute you do you have empowered another 10 machashefaohs. That is the antithesis of metchlichkeit.


  8. "But I am devastated to realize that men within our holiest communities are being warned, on one extreme, that if their wife might feel that she is fed up with him – run after her and say: 'here dear, please take this Get, with my blessing.'"

    I wouldn't overgeneralize. I'll tell you why. The wife of a Rav in this town wanted a divorce from him. A well known and respected Rav from Eretz Yisrael was visiting here in the U.S. and the husband who was trying to decide whether to divorce his wife or not went to meet the visiting Rav and gave the Rav a note a note explaining that both he, the husband, and his wife agreed the difficulties in their marriage started when the wife began working as a teacher at a non-Orthodox school.

    Immediately, the Rav from Eretz Yisrael told him to divorce her.

    Later on, after divorcing his wife, the Rav here learned that this incident where the Rav from Israel summarily said to divorce was much discussed among the Rav's followers. Apparently, he had never reacted like that before, giving such a definite response without hearing more details and giving them consideration; it was generally accepted among the followers that this incident indicated that the Rav had answered with Ruach Hakodesh.

    Again, the point I'm trying to bring out is not to discern a pattern based on limited data.

  9. I don't understand why the author would go to a gadol and try to summarize your position in a brief letter. How can you expect anything when you are expected to be so brief. If R'Chaim was willing to meet with you and your wife and fully engage then there is room for evaluating the merits of his opinion. Here he gave of his resources the same consideration of a kitchen kashrut query. All that being said, he gave the correct response. If the marriage is over, go one with your lives. Even though you can trap her as an agunah, why would you want to be such a person? Would you want that for your daughter? What would you advise your daughter to do if she was trapped in a loveless marriage? If women feel trapped with no halachik way out, they will find a way out. She won't be toenet on aus aly, she will make claims that will get rabbanim to encourage a get. Though we don't pasken like the Rambam, do you want to be the snake that traps the woman? Before you yell mamzer. What B"D would would refuse her a get if she claims long standing verbal abuse? She can go to therapy for a time, say he still verbally abuses her and it is not maus aly, it is more. Poskim of previous generation were concerned about z'nut so they helped her move on halachikally. With the current situation, if a woman wants out of a loveless marriage she has to claim abuse. Whether true or not, it is the only way to get a B"D to put pressure on the husband to set her free. With the p'tur from the B"D her future children can not be considered mamzerim.

    1. You're incorrect. If a husband does not to divorce and halacha is on his side in not divorcing then by not divorcing he is not making her an aguna, as halacha is no his side.

      Furthermore, you are additionally incorrect about a wife making false claims to beis din so that they enforce him giving a divorce. Shulchan Aruch specifically states that beis din must investigate a wife's claim and can only accept them if it is proven to be correct. Her claim alone is insufficient, for as you yourself pointed out she may have lied.

    2. How can you expect anything when you are expected to be so brief.

      perhaps than it was incumbent up the rav to say "i'm sorry, i can't help you or your in a 45 second meeting. there are other, much more productive ways for you to try and save your marriage than speaking with me for such a short time."

    3. I agree, Ben. I was hesitant about that arrangement from the beginning, but the insider neighbor convinced me differently. In the end, he emphasized to me that he was surprised at the insensitivity, but the Rav did not give a psak nor hor'aa, just advice for avoiding a messy scene. Then I began thinking about how endemic this is of so much that is wrong...

  10. Divorce is destructive. Destructive to the husband who doesn't want it. Destructive to the wife who stupidly demands it. And most destructive of all to the children.

    It should be fought however long it takes to fight. It is fighting the good fight.

    1. Nat,

      You can't be serious. You are destroying the children...just to avoid destroying the children!

      Life demands common sense. That so many think a knock-down, drag out brawl is the 'good fight' shows how little sense people have in today's world.

    2. Divorce is perhaps the greatest form of destruction of children. In the vast vast majority of divorce cases, it would be far far better to stay married for the sake of the children. (There are rare cases where divorce is best.)

    3. Statistics or studies?

      I happen to agree with you that it changes lives forever, but your statement doesn't acknowledge how complex human relationships are.
      The Torah allows for divorce and, in today's world, most parents really don't have their children uppermost in their minds. I'm wondering how nourishing such a home life will really be, where the two parents are at best loveless and miserable, and at worst are engaged in vicious, open warfare.

  11. If a husband will be alientated from his children as a result of divorce, or even forced to live outside his children's home and merely be relegated to "visitation" with his own flesh and blood loving children, that on its own is every reason to deny a divorce and insist on maintaining the marriage.

    For his children's sake and for the sake of his relationship with his children. And that he be able to come home every night and see his loving children and participate daily in their education and upbringing.

    To lose that is to lose the world. This point alone is every reason to stubbornly demand and insist a marriage continue and never let it go.

    If divorce is a must due to the wife's demand he must condition the Get on his having full custody of the children with the wife being granted liberal visitation rights. Whichever party to the marriage is the one demanding its end, they must stand ready to lose full-time residential custody to the other spouse with them getting visitation rights.

    1. It seems that in this case the children are grown, and there are no custody issues involved...

  12. Faithful, I appreciate your frustration, but you are not really appreciating the wisdom of what R. Kanievsky said.

    Here is a story that might shed some light. The baalei batim of Brisk once came to the Beis ha Levi to complain about the town shochet. His grandson was being sent to a secular school (then called a gymnasium), and they felt that it was inappropriate for their town to employ a shochet whose family was going off the derech, so to speak. After some discussion, he agreed with them, and told them to encourage the shochet to take a job elsewhere.

    Next day, the shochet came to the Beis ha Levi for advise, the town elders had asked him to leave and take another job elsewhere, and he wanted to know what the rov thought he should do. After some discussion, the Beis ha Levi told him it would be better for him (the shochet) to remain there.

    Well, as you might imagine, the baalei batim were very upset. "Why didn't you advise him to leave?" they asked him, "since you yourself advised us it would be better for the town if he did." He answered, "When you asked me, I told you what I thought was best for the town of Brisk. But when he asked me, I had to tell him what was best for him. To advise him otherwise would violate lifnei iver."

    Who went to R. Kanievsky, you or your wife? You did. R. Kanievsky gave the best advise for you.

    Yes, shalom Bayis is a mitzvah, but one both sides have to be willing to engage in. Your wife is apparently not willing to. Maybe she is wrong, maybe she is a reshante, but why would YOU want to be married to such a person?

    1. Why he would want to be married to her is a personal decision of his. If he decides he wishes to remain married to her, even if you think it is absurd and stupid for him to want to remain married to her, it is his absolute right to remain married to her. (Assuming he did not commit an unrectified wrong against her that gives her the right to a divorce.)

    2. good question, Tal

  13. Faithful, your post raised a question: It sounds as though this was out of the blue from your point of view, but how long has your wife wanted out? If she has been unhappy in the marriage for a long time, then perhaps the shalom bayit you had was achieved by means of serious mesirat nefesh on her part. Could this be the case?

    1. yes - there was a significant degree of misiras nefesh on BOTH of our parts to build our family, from the very beginning. We had known each other quite well before we had married, recognizing that our basic personalities and cultural backgrounds had many differences while at the same time our CORE values and energies complimented one another very deeply. We spoke it out for quite awhile before deciding to marry, and with great passion and inspiration concluded it was beshert.

      We subsequently worked hard at consulting when necessary with chashuva rabbonim in order to keep up the momentum. And by and large we did. Our kids thrived and we had many, many experiences of deepening bonds. YET... there were times of impasse and painful tit for tats, but we kept going. The rabbonim I consulted with explained that these were precisely the kind of nisyanos that BUILD a marriage and family. And so it went, with emmuna and effort... UNTIL.

      There were money challenges and midlife crises.., and suddenly she's questioning every little move of mine, until she went behind my back to consult with people whom she knew I did not trust.... whom supported her to make demands I could not accept.... to which I appealed that we must find a counselor whom we both could accept... and WHAM. She wants out. No more talking. HER counselor says I have been mistreating her, etc, etc.

      And my rabbonim, who know of my genuine misaras nefesh for my family, and that our kids are in deep pain over the conflict, support me to hold out for a MINIMAL counseling with a neutral expert. I had hoped Rav K would too...

    2. I suppose the problem was that you used so many counselors before and it did not really help, so that she lost trust in the process...

      Let her go, recognise her subjectivity.

      You are also entitled to your subjectivity, but one person wanting is not enough for a project involving two persons.

      you are just torturing her, yourself and the children

  14. What's interesting is that we only have one side of the story. Tragic, upsetting and all that but only one side. And Rav Kanievsky only got one side. Perhaps that was the reason for his quick dismissal? Yet another guy walks in with an important life question reduced to 2 lines on a slip of paper but expects the Heavens to open and "THE ANSWER" to suddenly appear.

  15. I though BOO-AH was a different way of saying the US Marines' battle cry "OOH-RAH"

  16. Reminds me of a 1980's song from Sting, "If you love someone, set them free".

    You said, "I'm worried about the integrity of my family, about my reputation, about the fact that someone so close to me is waging a smear campaign against me in court, with the help of some quasi-religious ideologues. And last but not least – I still feel love for her."

    Sounds like the Rav got it right. You listed the integrity of your family, your reputation, and the fact that your wife is waging a smear campaign against you first. And you listed that you still feel love for her last.

    From this, it's clear that it's all about you. And this is the reason your marriage isn't working. This is the klipa at work here.

    Bracha and hatzlacha with your counseling. When you do it, you had better make sure leave your integrity and reputation at home.

  17. Michelob, right on the BEERDecember 27, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    This situation is Taanu lo bechitim, vehodu lezeicher kodshoi! Doodlezohn is actually on her way to receive a GET. What she is trying to do is, jumping the gun trying to cash in a predated check, and crying all the way to the BANK AGUNNAHHHHHHHHH..... together with her goon squad. AMW is well aware that you cannot force a Horse to drink, more so an AKSHANIT PREIDAH and is WITHOLDING NOTHING, ZIP, ZILCH, EFESS, NADA, GURNISHT MIT VIDERNISHT. Let her pause and take a breath, follow protocol the TORAH way, the SA way, the POSKIM way, and I assure you, the GET IS ALSO WELL on the way, BETSHUOS CHEN with blessings of BORUCH SHEPTORANI. In the mean time she stop whining WOLF in conjunction with ORA's Orchestra attempting in defamation of character. AMW is withholding nothing. TORAH is not for sale, Im yiten isha as kol hon beiso, boiz yavuzu lah. Lil Aryehle was not born from fresh air, after all, AMW IS Tattele, fershteist mammele. Wishing you all a wonderful, happy Gutten Shabbos.

  18. Michelob says:

    " If a woman says she's done, very rarely will you be able to hold a gun to her head and live happily ever after. ... If she is not into it, and is dragged to the therapist kicking and screaming, you are both wasting your time and energy.

    Michelob; Your words are very rational, BUT ONLY TO A CERTAIN POINT.

    The fellow here does indeed seem to be faced with two very unpalatable choices:

    A. Be over and done with it.

    B. Fight for fairness, family integrity, reputation, the fact that someone so close to him is waging a smear campaign & using tools that clearly include some extremely serious Halachic & Hashkafic transgressions.

    But in actuality, I think that there's actually a THIRD option, too:

    To understand the third option, we need to "back up" a bit, and we need to ponder:

    What's REALLY behind the current epidemic of broken homes. We read comment after comment of hair-raising מעשה רשעות. How can it be?

    Men & women that have lived & built lives together for decades, been through so many joys and sorrows... to have everything disintegrate before their very eyes.... the men here grapple to understand the sudden change in reality & feel understandable wrath & frustration...

    These women [usually] weren't evil when these men married them. What did someone surreptitiously put into their woman's drinks? What changed these women into veritable WITCHES? The man knows that he WASN'T abusive, and if he was, nobody's interested in telling him where he went wrong, and how he should fix it...

    I posit that behind this phenomena there is usually ONE simple motivator:


    She cried out & expressed her pain to others; perhaps relatives, perhaps strangers ... and those "helpers" connected her with "professionals", and those "professionals" based on their own inflated egos, personal vendettas, political agendas, etc. KNEW the source of the woman's pain.

    The "professional" instinctively knew whom to blame:


    These "professionals", trained in the art of influencing others, succeeded in changing the woman's world-view. The woman's friends, influenced by popular writings, easily concurred... empathized with her... offered her "resources" in her "plight"....

    But they forget to hear the husband's side of the story..... So self assured were they in their world-view, that it wasn't necessary to hear his side.

    But everything I've written thus far isn't really my main point, because even if they HAD attempted to mediate between the two... even if the woman HAD gone to therapy ... chances are that it would be too late - as the damage had already been done.

    And this leads me to what I believe is the REAL solution....

    Please read on...

  19. Since the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom (or since matan Torah depending on how you understand a gemara in Sanhedrin--it is a machlocket Rishonim and Acharonim) either spouse can decline a get to try to preserve a marriage. But this only makes sense, and is only proper behavior, if there is a realistic hope of saving the marriage. Perhaps HaRav Kanievsky, after hearing how long and how bitter this dispute has been is, quite properly, trying to tell the man that it is past the point where he has a realistic chance of holding his marriage together and it is time to let go. Three years into a knockdown brawl over a divorce is awfully late for effective counseling; perhaps R. Kanievsky's answer would have been different had you asked your question 3 or 4 years ago.

    I hear many writers assuming third parties are to blame; I am not so sure. After all, if a woman is in pain and is telling people other than her husband, and her husband either doesn't notice her pain or doesn't do anything about it, that surely says something about the condition of the marriage. The time to seek help is when the husband first sees that his wife is in pain and he doesn't know what to do.

  20. Rav Dovid,

    Can you explain what makes a wife a moredes and more importantly what Halacha says we do about a moredes?

    1. The term MOREDES for a wife who refuses her husband and the term MORADE for a husband who refuses his wife means marital relations basically. When the issue is marital relations the Beth Din does not coerce because the claim that the marital partner repels them prevents this. When the issue is monetary such as the husband not supporting the wife or the wife not doing in the house in monetary matters sometimes the Beth Din coerces the revolting party to give in and supply the monetary obligation. But no coercion is done to force relations as we explained. This is a very brief remark and in real life the Beth Din must discover what is going on and hopefully settle things to make peace. Of course, the Beth Din should discover what happened that after many years a spouse becomes repulsive. There was a Rov in Jerusalem in charge of Gittin, but whoever came to him for a GET went away making Shalom Bayis. Of course, that is how it should be. But not every community merits such experts.Today I would recommend a warring couple to check in with Mort Fertel on the Internet, or to call him at 410-764-1552. Mort is lauded in his book approbations by the senior marital writers as the expert in his field. I read his book and became convinced that he studied Torah. I spoke to him not long ago and confirmed that fact. He has a big place in his heart to help Torah Jews, but he helps everyone.

    2. Rav Dovid,

      Thanks for that explanation of moredes.

      Is a wife not fulfilling her intimate marital relations obligations to her husband the only type of case that halachicly qualifies as a "moredes"?

      And if a beis din determines a wife is a moredes, does halacha give the beis din no recourse in requiring she cease being moredes? If so, what is the point of finding someone to be a moredes?

  21. Nicely written article. Definitely one sided though. Would be interested in hearing the wife's side of things. My guess though is the Rav is correct on this one. Time to move on. Children survive divorces and much worse. Divorce is a Mitzah also. Work it out from here on. Life is fluid. Many divorces are peaceful and the parties involved continue to communicate for the benefit of all involved.

  22. This comment is a continuation of what I’d like to imagine is the “real solution” to the current epidemic of broken homes …

    Concerning men & women that have lived & built lives together for decades, been through so many joys and sorrows … & the woman was convinced that it’s time to go…. I posited that …

    THE WOMAN IS SEARCHING FOR HAPPINESS, OR AT LEAST SEARCHING TO ESCAPE HER OWN EMOTIONAL TURMOIL, whether depression, anxiety, etc, etc. … and that her pain is being blamed on HER HUSBAND.

    The woman’s mindset seems to be that “happiness” is something she needs to receive from the outside - her husband, or “someone” needs to “give” it to her, and that she “deserves” to receive it… Once the marriage is irrevocably broken, perhaps she feels that her husband CAN’T and / or surely doesn’t want to give it…..

    Might she be mistaken?

    Could it perhaps be that…?

    … The only AUTHENTIC happiness she’ll ever have is the type she’ll find INSIDE HERSELF. Perhaps someone can convince her to stop looking OUTSIDE for something missing INSIDE?

    Perhaps she’s looking for the wrong KIND of happiness… and the RIGHT kind is actually free for the taking?

    Here are the 5 types of happiness, according to Martin Seligman (I’m cheating a bit, because he talks about well-being, while I’m calling them happiness).

    Perhaps she should stop looking for types 1 & 3, and start looking for types 2, 4 & 5?

    In fact, maybe they can still … look…. Together?!

    1- Positive emotion: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like. A life lived with these aims; he calls the “pleasant life.”

    2- Engagement: is about flow - being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. Engagement is different, even opposite, from positive emotion; for if you ask people who are in flow what they are thinking and feeling, they usually say, “nothing.” A life lived with these aims; he calls the “engaged life.”

    3- Relationships: He doesn’t explain it here, but I think it seems self-explanatory.

    4- Meaning and purpose: belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self. Humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being Green, the Boy Scouts, or the family. A life lived with these aims; he calls the “meaningful life.”

    5- Accomplishment: success and mastery. People try to achieve just for winning’s own sake

    1. @ploni - this is an important issue - please turn it into a guest post

    2. DT:

      Can you kindly post it as such?

      I don't know how much time I'll have during the week to address comments, but others can take over. Would you be able to elaborate, based on your clinical experience?

      I can only say, "I'll bl"n try".

    3. "Perhaps someone can convince her to stop looking OUTSIDE for something missing INSIDE? Perhaps she’s looking for the wrong KIND of happiness… and the RIGHT kind is actually free for the taking?"

      This is a VERY important point. But "free for the taking" is a bit misleading. There's a serious need for education in these matters.

  23. To those that advocate Sholom Bayit above all else:
    When a marriage is over, forcing the spouse to stay trapped is not advisable, especially if there are kids involved. Seeing miserable parents fighting does not model the positive inter-personal relationships that we would hope the children would bring to their lives and future relationships. This isn't rocket science. Sometimes, perhaps often, when there are irreconcilable differences the best thing for the children is if the couple separates. What goes with this is the woman by leaving the domicile can be acting in the best interest of the children and should not be punished for doing so. Yes it is very hard for the spouse who thinks there still is a marriage to be saved. That is where the B"D can be involved and verify if there is in fact a marriage to be saved or is it done and the best thing is to move on and give both the husband and wife a chance to move on with their lives.

    1. Divorce is perhaps the greatest cause of harm to children. Only very rarely is divorce the better option.

  24. Rabbi Eidensohn:

    I think you will find this article most interesting and relevant to the discussions you maintain on your blog here:

  25. ' divorcing with all the slander and demonization that my wife wants'
    The adversarial nature of the western legal system means that legal cases are fuelled by slander and accusations that make the most noise and impression. A Rov gave a friend the following advice – I am not going to fight over the divorce, I want it to be friendly, so we can both co-parent in the interests of our children, I would prefer if we could get help and save our marriage. Stepping back from the fight makes the other feel less threatened and more open to another alternative. In any event – a friendly divorce is better than a bitter fight

  26. Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn:

    I think you will find this article most interesting and relevant to the discussions you maintain on your blog here:

  27. Dear Blog Master - I only now was able to look at the post. I see you put up a sub-title which I did not write. Please change it to "A GADOL'S PROBLEMATIC REACTION TO A DYING MARRIAGE" (the bold is for you).

    Regarding your reference to it a "dead marriage", I'll be dan l'kaf zkhus that you did not purposely slip in a judgment. Rather, like a number of the commenters seem to have understood, you really thought I saw it as effectively deald . Sorry if I misled you. I will now say it clear: I gave the Rav no indication whatsoever that it was over. I had actually wanted to present to him a 2 page, thoroughly spelled out proposal for how we could deal with her issues out of the state rabbinical court (it's kangaroo character is for a different post!), if only she would agree to at least a few counseling meetings... but this neighbor (a Mashgiakh in a Yeshiva Ketana) said that the Rav will only look at a few lines, so I let him write what he wrote.

    In retrospect, that note might have been part of the problem. It's not the time now to go into detail, but let me say the one clear chiddush from that meeting was that the neighbor's words underscored that she had turned to a "Mizrachi feminist organization" to represent her, with the hope that he'd say something to passul that move - but he didn't! On the other hand, the note did NOT make clear the nature of our relationship, my core feelings for her, what made her suddenly turn with such vengeance, and how much I and the kids have suffered by the way she's fighting in and out of BD (refusing to speak a word with me, nor to ANYone in our community who asks to help, while throwing every lie and trumped up accusation she can at me in BD).

    That's why I was so blown away by his crass dismissal. I'm sure he meant it for my good, in the sense that he picked up bad, bad blood and was letting me know it would be totally kosher to high tail out of there. But no - I do not see him as a divine oracle whose every gesture must be obeyed in stark literalism. I was respectively offended by his lack of even minimal interest in the fine HUMAN aspect in the PROCESS of deciding if a marriage is dying, limping, heal-able or dead.

    1. Faithful - this guest post is not about you. I specifically asked for a post that was not about you but addressed a general issue or principle. However your above comment indicates that you are in fact primarily concerned with justifying yourself and showing that you are right and she is wrong to the readership of this blog. In fact this article has no impact on your wife or the cosmic scales of justice. A blog is a place to share information and ideas - it is not a court of justice. If the concerned was with deciding who was right - it would be necessary for your wife to present her point of view.

      Bottom line - the article is about the divorce process not about you.

    2. Daas Torah - the question seems to be whether your subtitle is factually correct. In order to objectively "share information and ideas" in this case, we need to be clear about whether the issue was presented to the Rav, as the author puts it, as "dying, limping, heal-able or dead."

    3. DT,

      As the comments show, the reality of a specific case that was briefly presented to a Gadol IS important to the readership. Either way, your subtitle is WRONG. The issue at hand is not about a "dead" marriage (there's been no psak whatsoever about divorce, and as said, she has finally just indicated willingness to go to couple counseling) but a very intense and complex downturn in a long, and by all accounts viable marriage until the last few years.

      Thus again, for the sake of accuracy (and not justice seeking, as you mistakenly claim), please change the subtitle.

  28. Rav Dovid Eidensohn,

    Can you please explain what makes a wife a moredes and more importantly what Halacha says we do about a moredes?


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