Friday, February 26, 2016

Why do good people do evil things in divorce cases? A lesson from Shlomo HaMelech

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

In several divorce case that you have covered, there has been some serious unbecoming behavior that some of the divorcing parties have perpetrated. To those of us who have had interactions with these people, it often does not make any sense. People who generally act with kindness, consideration and fairness act in self-centered and mean-spirited ways. How does this come about? How do good people go so wrong? The Gemara relates, that the stories mentioned in Tanach are instructive to each and every generation. While there were many more stories and prophecies that were not recorded in Tanach, only those that are relevant to all generation were transcribed. We may find an interesting answer there.

King Solomon was only twelve years old when he succeeded his father as the king of Israel. At that point, Hashem appeared to him in a dream and gave him a blank check offer. Hashem told Shlomo Hamelech that he can have whatever he would like. With awareness and recognition of his youthfulness and inexperience, Shlomo asked Hashem to provide him with the wisdom to be able to understand how to properly lead the Jewish people. More importantly, he asked for the wisdom to be able to properly differentiate between right and wrong. Being that Shlomo’s request was completely selfless, Hashem told Shlomo that He will give him the wisdom to be the wisest man ever – in addition to other gifts.

Immediately thereafter, the young Shlomo was put to the test. The Radak explains that the case that he was asked to rule upon was to show all of us his great wisdom. Indeed, the whole nation was watching him and eyeing this case to see Shlomo’s ability to rule. There were two single mothers who shared a room. Both had given birth to baby boys. However, unfortunately, during the third night one baby died beside her mother. Sad, upset, hurt and distraught at having lost her precious child, she quietly switched her dead child with her roommate’s sleeping child. She intended to raise this child as her own. She was going to shower the baby with love, warmth and motherly care. When her roommate awoke to take care of her baby, she saw the other mother's dead child beside her. She immediately realized that this was not her child! Her child was alive and well at the other side of the room. Naturally, a custody battle ensued. They took their battle to King Solomon. The nation would now witness Shlomo Hamelech’s – the wisest of all men – wisdom.

Listening to both mothers, Shlomo wisely declared that “We must split it evenly. Cut up both children – the one who and the one was alive! - in half!” It worked! The mother of the dead child agreed to cut both children up. However, the mother of the living child begged Shlomo to keep her child alive. She would rather her child live, even with a woman who had kidnapped him, rather than her child being killed. It now became obvious who the rightful mother was. It was self-understood to all observers that the real mother was the one who wanted to keep her child alive.

The Novie relates that now, through his ruse and ruling, the whole nation saw Shlomo Hamelech’s amazing wisdom.

In one of his famously inspiring shmoozen, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz asked: “Shlomo! How did you know?! How did you know that this woman would be willing to cause the murder of this child – a child she wanted to raise as her own? Just because she was willing to kidnap this child should not mean that she was willing to murder the child! Had your ruse not worked, you would have looked childish and foolish.”

It is apparent that the reasoning in this case is one that is applicable to people in all generations – otherwise it would not have been transcribed.

Obviously, Shlomo Hamelech in his great wisdom understood with absolute certainty, that once a person is willing to wrongfully take a child away from their parent – even if it is to satisfy a deep emotional hurt – at that point, they have become willing to murder the child. Indeed, depriving a child from their parent is emotional destruction of the child.

Yes, there may be organizations, movements and good friends who may encourage divorcing parents to use their children as leverage, as a weapon of war and deny their children their other parent. It may be bring about interesting results.The downside is, that at that point they have become willing to completely destroy their child. They have chosen the other objective over the well-being of their child. This may very well be the underlying cause of how good people fall into behaving so wrongly in divorces.


  1. Who is the girl in that picture????

  2. Madeleine McCann I think

  3. Funny, never seen that picture on Google....

    RDE, who is the girl in the picture??

  4. please -where is in print -is rav chaim's zt"l amazing insight?

  5. That does not answer the question
    Who is this child? And if it's not related to the lost, why is she pictured here???

  6. Google image search points to this page:

  7. I tell you but you must promise not to tell anyone, it's top secret. This a slightly computer altered picture of JonBenet Ramsey. The eyes have been slightly rounded and the cheeks rosed. This is only for sod H' lireiov.


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