Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Chinuch: A man should divorce his wife when she is no longer useful to him

Chinuch (#579): Divorce requires a document: ....The basis of this mitzva is that since a woman was created to help her husband and she is to him like an desirable utensil. A similar idea is expressed in Sanhedrin (22b), A woman does not make a covenant except with one who makes her into a utensil. Since a woman is there to serve a purpose, it is the will of G d that when he is disgusted with this utensil he should remove it from his house. Because of this reason there are some of our Sages who say in Gittin (90a) that even if she burns his food he is able to divorce her i.e., for a trivial matter since she is nothing but a valued utensil in his house. However others Sages say that since she is in G-d’s form and image and G-d prepared her for her husband’s needs and honor – with eyes to see and ears to hear and intelligence – it is not right to reject her and send out of his house except for a major reason. This is as the verse says, “Because he found in her ervas davar (something disgusting).” Nevertheless according to all the Sages, if he finds some major problem with her it is correct to divorce her. That is because of the reason I mentioned, that she was only created for his sake. And since she is causing him upset and he is disgusted with her there is no necessity for him to remain with her. The Jewish approach is not that of some of the non-Jews who make a strong binding commitment to marriage that is only ended by death. A man should not be afraid to divorce his wife if she does something repellent and destroys all that is in the house and burns down all of his possessions. However the Torah commands that when she is sent away that it shouldn't be done by words alone because this can lead to much trouble and immorality in our society. Because a wife who is committing adultery could simply claim that she was already divorced. In addition if divorce is too easy to do then it becomes very common. Consequently the Torah requires that a divorce be based on a written document and that there be witnesses who testify and that all those who claim to be divorced can show it. An additional advantage of a complicated written procedure over an oral agreement is that the delay and effort can cause the man’s anger to dissipate sometimes and he will decide not to divorce his wife and great is peace...

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