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Can a divorced couple remarry each other?

by Rabbi Eyal Ravnoy

  

Library » Intimacy » Marriage | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Not only is it permitted, it is considered a Mitzvah to remarry a divorced spouse. 


There are two exceptions to this rule:


1) A Kohen may not marry a divorcee1, and this applies to remarrying his own divorcee as well.


2) If the wife married another man after divorcing her first husband, then she may never remarry her first husband (even if she later became divorced or widowed of her second husband).2


The above law proves how sensitive Judaism is to the human condition. It is mandated to avoid two potential harms to society: open marriages and irresponsibility3.


Imagine a couple who get a little bored with each other. Instead of finding out what is wrong in the marriage, or getting help in improving it, they say to each other: "Let's get divorced and marry other people. If that doesn't work out, or if we miss each other too much, we'll divorce again and get married to each other for the second time." This is not only a lack of commitment, but also unfair to the partner of the second marriage. In other words: The Torah wants people to understand that when they get married, they are making a commitment for life. If it doesn't work out, they are allowed to divorce--but there is no back-door exit to marriage, through which one can pass freely as he or she wishes.


The Torah wants people to understand that when they get married, they are making a commitment for life. If it doesn't work out, they are allowed to divorce...
Without this law, the following far-fetched scenario might be anything but. Imagine a greedy couple meeting a rich single guy. The husband and wife make an indecent proposal to each other. They get divorced. The wife then gets married to the rich guy--and then divorces him, collects half of his total assets, and goes back to her original husband. They're rich and still in love with each other, building their fortune on the ruins of the formerly single guy's life. Irresponsible ideas like this one is what the Torah strives to cancel out.

Footnotes

  • 1. Leviticus 21:7
  • 2. Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
  • 3. See Nachmandies Deuteronomy 24:4

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COMMENTS

What if the woman didn't remarry but simply had a partner during the separation

Posted by: Carolina on Oct 05, 2006

Is it allowed for a jewish woman to remarry her first husband if during the time they were separated (not divorced) she had another partner, but didn't marry him?

Editor's Comment

The technical answer is no. Any married woman who willingly had a relationship with another man cannot resume her marriage with her husband. Separation has no halachic meaning whatsoever; until the husband hands his wife a "get" (halachic bill of divorce), she is considered 100% married. However, every case MUST be judged on its own merits, and a rabbi MUST be consulted in any such case. There just might be a halachic clause which can allow the husband and wife to be reunited. That said, if after the wife was divorced she had a relationship with another man, that would not prevent her from remarrying her original husband. Only another marriage disqualifies her from again marrying her first husband.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Divorce

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.