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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Skorka

Ki Tezte - The couple and the divorce in Judaism

This parashah is characterized by being entirely composed of general laws and, in particular, family laws. They include legislation about the causes of and procedures for divorce.

From the Genesis account it turns out that the ideal state of humanity is being a couple since God creates a man and a woman to accompany each other in the course of existence. Genesis 5:2 says: “Male and female he created them; and he blessed them, and called their name Adam.” From this Rabbi Elazar deduced: “every man who does not meet a woman cannot be called Adam, a human being” (Yevamot 63, a). Although polygamy is accepted in the Bible and was even obligatory in some cases (Deuteronomy 25: 5-7), when man possesses several women, these are called Tzarot, from the word Tzara, anguish, because there is misery among them (I Samuel 1: 6). This word reveals the difficult family situation that is created in such a case.

The love that a husband and his wife have developed since the years of their youth and eager for eternity, is seen by the prophets as a paradigm of sublime love that must exist between God and the people of Israel (Jeremiah 2:1-2; 31:2; Hosea 1; 2).

The possibility of a marriage failing is contemplated in this parashah. The divorce is formalized by the delivery by the husband to his wife of a "book of severance." The reasons explained in Deuteronomy 24:1-2 were the subject of discussion among the sages of the

Talmud (Gittin 90, a). There are those who argue that only very serious causes should lead to divorce, others are less restrictive.

It is worth mentioning that Jewish history records the development of the marriage contract and divorce proceedings with the purpose of defending women's rights against abusive situations and conflicting separations (Toldot Ha-Ketuba Be-Israel, LM Epstein, The American Academy for Jewish Research, p. 124). Current reality requires that more changes be introduced in this regard.

The Talmud divorce treaty (Gittin) concludes with a very eloquent phrase and a very significant message: "For everyone who divorces his first wife, even the altar (of the Jerusalem Temple) sheds tears for him" (90,b).

Shabbat shalom!


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