Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Childless Couple Divorcing and Remarrying

A couple who did not merit having children came to Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein with the following inquiry: Should they get divorced and then remarried, for they had heard that this is a segulah for having children? The woman, however, was refusing because getting divorced was degrading to her. What should they do?

He cited proof from our Gemora that a divorce, even just for a few moments is degrading and therefore, the wife has grounds to refuse the divorce.

The Gemora (Kesuvos 81b) states: Rava sent the following question to Abaye in the hands of Rav Shemayah bar Zeira: Is it indeed true that the kesuvah of a yevamah was meant to be collected while the yavam is alive? But didn’t we learn in the following braisa: Rabbi Abba said: I asked Sumchus: If a yavam (after performing yibum) wishes to sell some of his brother’s properties (something that he is not allowed to do), what should he do?

Sumchus responded: If he is a Kohen (and he cannot marry his divorcee), he should prepare for her a feast (with some wine) and persuade her to allow him to sell the property (which exceeds the amount of her kesuvah). If he is a Yisroel, he should divorce her and then, remarry her (he can either sell the properties before the second marriage or afterwards).

Rava concludes his question: If the kesuvah of a yevamah was meant to be collected while the yavam is alive, let the yavam designate land for her which equals the amount of the kesuvah, and then, he should be permitted to sell the remaining property? This, explains Rashi is a much more preferable option, for getting divorced is degrading!

The Steipler Gaon, when asked the same question, said that a childless couple may try to divorce and remarry (and the husband need not be concerned that after the divorce, the wife will refuse to remarry); however, he personally never heard that this is a valid segulah and he has no opinion regarding its veracity.


Avromi said...

Rabbi Joshua Waxman discusses this piece at length here: parshablog

Avromi said...

I am not a strong proponent of chasing segulos, but why do you say that "it is bad"? Segulos can be traced way back in our heritage!

Also, they were two different incidents. The Steipler's case is brought in Pninei Rabbeinu Kehilos Yaakov p. 60.

Josh Waxman said...

There are indeed precedents way back in our heritage. And Judaism has always flirted with the two sides, of mysticism and rationalism.

My problem with many segulot, IMHO, is that they often (though not always) come into being as pop-religion, often as misunderstanding of the underlying principles or halachot. And with no basis, or theologically questionable basis, they approach or even reach the level of darkei emori -- in many a situation. And often they supplant the main intent/reason for doing things. It is hard to go into without concrete examples.

One example I intend to touch on soon is making a seuda on the night of the brit "lemazal hatinnok."

Avromi said...

In other words, you are really saying that one should be careful with certain segulos.

Let me know please when you post regarding the seudah before the bris. thanks

Josh Waxman said...

My issue is that segulot at large are not governed as closely as halacha is, and so *any* segula is free to develop wildly. And since it is already mystical, the direction it takes when unguided by the theologically sophisticated, is often not just silly but also theologically or halachically problematic.

A concrete example is shlugging kapparot, which developed the practice of demanding specifically a white chicken.