SA Organisations

When divorce is a mitzvah

  • MichaelSieff
Everyone knows that, unlike some religions that do not permit divorce, Judaism recognises its necessity under certain circumstances. The proper procedures are even built into the framework of Jewish law.
by MICHAEL SIEFF | Jul 20, 2016

What you may not know is that correctly executed for the right reasons, divorce is counted among the 613 mitzvot in the Torah.

This doesn’t mean that I am advocating divorce. It is always heart-breaking. The Talmud tells us that when a divorce occurs, the Temple altar - the symbol of Jewish unity and holiness - symbolically “weeps" as if to mourn this failed union.

But sadly, an increasing number of marriages fall into a destructive cycle of abuse and in those situations divorce is not only appropriate, it is a mitzvah.

A crucially important factor is when kids are watching and learning. Regardless of what we say to them, what we teach them, children watch our behaviour and learn from the example we set. 

When a little boy sees his father abusing his mother - verbally, emotionally or physically - he is learning how to treat a wife. And when a little girl watches her mother permitting abuse, she is learning about her own value as a female.

At the Chev we held our first “Family Abuse Awareness” week this week during which a light was shone, primarily, upon the subject of domestic abuse - a topic too often shrouded in secrecy and shame within our community. 

Women, in particular, (because in 90 per cent of reported cases they are the victims), need to be made aware that help is available and that they have options.

It is possible to transform a traumatic time of life into one of growth and joy, so while divorce is a tragedy, sometimes it is absolutely the right thing to do.

Much as we would like to deny that abuse is as prevalent in the Jewish community as in other communities, it is a sad fact, and needs to be addressed. As eminent psychiatrist Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski said in his book, The Shame Borne in Silence, “abuse occurs in a community that tolerates it”. Ours should not be one of those.

May our partnership continue to thrive!  [email protected]


PS: With the process of divorce in place, as a final act of vindictive control, a husband may sometimes refuse to give his former wife a Jewish divorce (get), without which she cannot remarry.  Make no mistake, this refusal is a serious act of abuse.



1 Comment

  1. 1 Matteo Coné 04 Aug
    Thanks for sharing.


  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
    Toolbar's wrapper 
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.


My Place advert 300px x 300px 110820




Yad Aharon GENERIC2020


Follow us on