When divorce is a mitzvah
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! Feedback@jhbchjev.co.za
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.