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  • Family and Society

Is divorce bad or wrong as it seems from Malachi?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tevet 13, 5775
If divorce is not a sin according to Judaism why does God say in Malachi that He hates it?
Yes it’s clear from Malachi 2, 14 that divorce is generally negative and considered an affront and offensive to “your companion, the woman with whom you made a covenant”. If it’s very wrong to offend anybody’s nose or weight, how much more so is it offensive to tell your partner, “I can’t stand living with you”, especially after all she did for you, including revealing her innermost secrets and intimacy. One cannot say this isn’t offensive or a moral problem. In addition, a normal couple who decided to get married, obviously at one point did have certainty and clarity that the match has a good and workable starting-point. If they both invest the proper love, altruism, giving and mutual consideration, that positive partnership will definitely gradually grow stronger and stronger with every occurring pleasure and challenge. If it doesn’t, that clearly infers (although not always, but generally) that there was not proper effort or patience invested in those aforementioned essential and indispensable issues. The Rambam points out that the Tanach generally refers to the average case and not to the exception, and the above lack of effort, giving and tolerance, is clearly the most common scenario which leads to divorce. It could have and should have been avoided, and all would have gained. In addition, it is clearly painful to the children involved, so obviously, when possible otherwise, it’s clearly not the preferable or moral choice. Nevertheless, Judaism differs strongly with Catholicism, in that almost all mistakes in life where man chose wrong, he can correct by choosing right, including that rare case when one clearly married the wrong spouse. The most common scenario is when one’s choice was blinded by secondary factors, like being overpowered by intensive physical attraction, which should not be the most decisive issue, for that inevitably weakens with time (albeit the physical separation laws of family purity, when practiced properly and together with the aforementioned proper meta-physical love, giving and mutual consideration, which can significantly extend it’s vitality). Just like anger is also generally negative and undesirable, but in that rare case, sometimes it’s necessary.
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