June 3, 2018 7:07 pm at 7:07 pm #1531625
Rav Avigdor Miller on Divorce and Regret
Q: What can we say to a couple who are fighting all the time and are now talking about a divorce?
A: And the answer is – ach, wouldn’t it be good if you could give a simple answer to that? The answer is they should go…not to a marriage counselor. I know a case of a woman who goes to a marriage counselor. So I asked who is it? It’s a she. Is she married? No. So what kind of marriage counselor is it? It’s like taking driving lessons from somebody who never drove a car. And sometimes, it’s even a failure in marriage, a divorcee. Even if she’s successful in her marriage, it usually is an ignoramus who studied some theories from books and had unrealistic approaches to life.
And so my advice is go to an older talmid chacham. That’s not me. I’m not old and I’m not a talmid chacham. My telephone is ringing all day long because of this. And I don’t advertise. There are good people to go to. Not me. An old talmid chacham. But don’t make a big mistake. Because when people go to a marriage counselor, or even worse to a psychologist or psychiatrist, they pay a big fee. But they expect an old talmid chacham to sit down for an hour and talk, and then they walk out and say thank you. Therefore, you make it your business to remunerate him generously, as if he liked money. You should pay a generous fee. There are talmidei chachamim, some of them who won’t take anything, but you can give it to their charities, their yeshivos. And they will give you a little bit of time a few minutes, that’s more precious than sitting for an hour at a silly marriage counselor.
And it can be pointed out to these people that no matter what, divorce is always going to turn out worse. It’s only because the grass seems greener further on. After it’s all over, they look back and regret. How many divorced women and divorced men have spoken on the telephone to me? And I ask them, “Will you reconsider the first one? Would you like to remarry the first one?” And they said, “I would like to, but it’s too late.” And therefore the time to reconsider is before you do it.
TAPE # 204 (February 1978)June 4, 2018 11:16 am at 11:16 am #1531959
As a family law attorney for many decades I agree with much of what Rav Miller said. Our CT courts require couples to undergo marriage counseling before granting a divorce.
That said, I have convinced the Chief Judge in our GA to permit that counseling to be performed by a ‘religious authority’ as opposed to a Pyschologist, LCSW or other Therapist.
I counsel clients that divorce should be the last resort.
However, sometimes it s necessary for the safety of a spouse and/or children. When one spouse has an addiction problem that has not been solved despite repeated treatment, or is physically violent to the other spouse and/or children divorce may be the correct answer…along with protective, support and custody orders.
I have had non-Jewish clients divorce and then remarry later. As a Justice of the Peace I have performed a number of these ceremonies.
I have only had one Jewish client (that I am aware of) who later remarried his ex wife and that was more than 25 years later when the 2nd marriages had both ended in divorce and the original couple kept seeing each other at family simchas and realized they belonged together. The male felt that he was pushed into divorce by his overbearing parents and the were no longer around to interfere with the remarriage.June 4, 2018 11:19 am at 11:19 am #1531966
A man may not remarry his ex wife if she remarried in the meanwhile.
It’s called מחזיר גרושתו, and it’s a לאו.June 4, 2018 11:44 am at 11:44 am #1531978
I can only perform civil ceremonies, religious marriage is left to the religious authorities. My ceremonies allow the couple to partake of civil benefits that require a civil marriage to be in place.June 4, 2018 11:46 am at 11:46 am #1531997
מסייע לידי עוברי עבירהJune 4, 2018 1:16 pm at 1:16 pm #1532025
Possibly in that case mutar bedeiavad because no real Kiddushin. Rav Henken disagrees.June 4, 2018 2:16 pm at 2:16 pm #1532056
Possibly in that case mutar bedeiavad because no real Kiddushin.
No, the issur on chaivei lavin applies even if there’s no kiddushin.June 4, 2018 2:17 pm at 2:17 pm #1532077
I wonder if this would be considered מסייע, since they have plenty of opportunity to pursue their chosen course even without CTL’s help.June 4, 2018 4:11 pm at 4:11 pm #1532505
I disagree, Marriage Councilors are trained professionals that assist in helping couples work through their issues without any bias.
Regardless if they are married, they were trained in that area. It’s like saying Rabbi
A Talmid Chachum is not trained and I know marriages ended because of the advice given.June 4, 2018 4:12 pm at 4:12 pm #1532098
It is foolish to dismiss the guidance of all professional marriage counselors or psychologists just as it would be foolish to unequivocally accept the guidance of any older talmid chacham as to whether to stay in a dysfunctional marriage. Ideally, the advice of both could be helpful but ultimately each of the parties needs to make their own decision based on what is best for them (and their children, if relevant). CTL offers some very cogent thoughts on the issue and how in some cases, the courts will accept the counseling efforts of a Rav, even one lacking in counseling “credentials”.June 4, 2018 5:29 pm at 5:29 pm #1532024
The little I knowParticipant
This statement by Rav Miller ZT”L was made in 1978. We are now 40 years later, and we must examine whether the facts on the ground are the same as when he made this statement.
At the present, there is a large and growing number of heimishe Yidden who enter the fields of mental health and counseling. Yes, they have most attended classes and read textbooks. And יש חכמה בגוים. And they are primarily Torah observant people, whose primary dedication is to Torah and its values. The ones I know do not push divorce. The ones I know are busy repairing marriages, not breaking them. The statement that the marriage counselors and certainly professional therapists are only book schooled is not true today.
From the opposite end, the average Rov, who may be a huge talmid chochom, may be completely clueless when confronted with an existing marital problem. Most rabbonim should not pasken shailos without having undergone שימוש in the subject, and counseling or guiding a couple in crisis is one of those complex areas in which experience needs to be a prerequisite to paskening or providing guidance. The painful reality is that the Rov, with the noblest of intentions, runs a significant risk of causing great harm to a couple that is struggling. I have seen some wonderful successes of rabbonim who get involved. I have also observed some seriously tragic results from bad advice (again from great people with the best intentions).
There are marriages that should not be saved, and the Rov who tries to keep them together is doing a disservice. There are those than can be saved, even in the conflict ridden situations, that should not be considered hopeless. Should college education be the requirement for this? Perhaps not. Then what kind of experience? What kind of training? Can a Rov be approached with a problem and say, “I don’t know?” In reality, not every Rov should be expected to provide every conceivable service to a kehila. It is quite difficult to be a jack of all trades. There should be no stigma to a Rov forwarding a complex issue elsewhere where there is expertise. This is actually legendary. In generations past, poskim would write their teshuvos on shailos, and refer them to additional rabbonim for concurrence or disagreement. Many of the historical greats would conclude a teshuvah with the instruction to only implement their psak upon agreement of others. And others refused to accept shailos in certain areas where they considered themselves inexperienced. A perusal through the archives of shu”t will show this.
There is a valid point that the consequences of divorce are too infrequently considered in the process. Divorce nearly always involves significant negative emotion. This blocks one from applying the best of intellectual processing in which one would make the consequences part of the consideration of how to resolve a problem.
It is told of the Ohr Someyach – Meshech Chochma, that a couple approached him about an amicable divorce, where the two were unwilling to remain together. In passing, they reported they had a son, perhaps 8-9 years old. The Rov asked to speak to the son in their presence. he asked the child how he would feel to see his father once a month, have no one to take him to shul, no one to review his learning in cheder, etc. The child’s bitter tears were only matched by the tears of the parents, who decided to return to marriage and learn how to be happy in it. Yes, there are consequences, and this gadol simply added that consideration to the formula.June 4, 2018 5:30 pm at 5:30 pm #1532076
MDG, I think you’re referring to a case where the original marriage was without קידושין. If the original marriage was with קידושין, however, she would be אסורה עולמית to the original husband once she was נבעלת לרצון [or even באונס if the first husband was a כהן] whether or not the second union was considered a Halachic marriage.June 4, 2018 5:30 pm at 5:30 pm #1532692
there is a real place for experienced counselors when the issues are more complicatedJune 4, 2018 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #1532736
Regret doesn’t actually mean that one made the wrong decision. People have a tendency to look at the past with rose colored glasses.June 4, 2018 8:52 pm at 8:52 pm #1532753June 4, 2018 9:30 pm at 9:30 pm #1532756
R Avigdor Miller probably didn’t mean people should only ever go to their normal Rov. Firstly you have to choose a Rov who is known as being good in this area. Secondly, the Rov may well decide to refer on to a psychologist/counsellor he recommends based on his experience. I have no sofek R Avigdor Miller would have no problem with that.June 4, 2018 9:34 pm at 9:34 pm #1532759
Anyway I think its obvious that the thing to do is what will get the most positive results. If you know that between you and your spouse either a Talmid Chochom /Rov is better than a counsellor, do that. If the counsellor will be better, do that. DON’T do one or the other just because you have a shitto that way. I think R Avigdor Miller’s main point is that you shouldn’t automatically go to a counsellor, first try a Rov and see what he recommends, unless there is a specific preference on your/your spouses part for a counsellor only.June 4, 2018 9:40 pm at 9:40 pm #1532767
No, he’s saying to go to an older talmid chochom, and not to a marriage counselor.June 4, 2018 9:55 pm at 9:55 pm #1532769
Go To Rav Miller’s “Talmid Muvhak”, who deals extensively with marital issues, and has a lot of Hatzlocho. I am in frequent contact with this Talmud Muvhak, but assume that may not publish his name in this coffee room.June 5, 2018 2:27 am at 2:27 am #1532801
Unfortunately times have changed since this statement of Rav Miller Z”L.
There are very few elderly talmidei chachamim that make themselves available to the public to address sholom bayis issues. The few talmidei chachamim that are open to the public are very hard to get ahold of and one needs to get an appointment in advance for a few minute meeting. Now, no matter how great chochom they are it’s almost impossible to understand and evaluate a dysfunctional marriage in a few minutes.
In the previous generation Rabonim were much more accessible. As Rav Miller mentioned that he got many phone calls each day about sholom bayis issues. Even if there would be a Rav like Rav Miller nowadays, it wouldn’t be possible to call him and just have a conversation.
However, on the other hand marriage counselors can be terrible. Many salvageable marriages have been destroyed due to marriage counselors. They usually join a course for six months and with that training they break up marriages.
Currently the only solution in my opinion is that moshiach should come and solve all of our problems.June 5, 2018 2:29 am at 2:29 am #1532807
If you go to an older talmid chochom with marriage concerns, he instantly becomes a marriage counselor.June 5, 2018 9:57 pm at 9:57 pm #1534213
Find a respected rav (or rebbitzen if that makes a woman more comfortable) with some professional training in counseling, domestic relations and family matters. As others have noted, we are fortunate today to have many rabbonim and rebbitzens with professional training and who are qualified to provide advice informed by daas torah. Trying to get an appointment with some chashuve rebbe and convey the facts of your situation in 5-15 minutes and obtain meaningful advice is a joke.June 6, 2018 12:11 am at 12:11 am #1534231
It is Time for TruthParticipant
My apologies to DY ,Joseph, and Neville C,
Difficult to jive CTL’s post with any semblance of a Classic LitvakJune 6, 2018 12:11 am at 12:11 am #1534230
It is Time for TruthParticipant
“I wonder if this would be considered מסייע, since they have plenty of opportunity to pursue their chosen course even without CTL’s help.”
One could in the end matir almost anything on that basis
What about a kohen with a divorcee ?How would you go about it?June 6, 2018 7:34 am at 7:34 am #1534272
I have incredible respect for Rav Miller. It’s important to say here that Daas Torah is not universal on this topic.
When I got married, my mashgiach took my aside and asked me if we had spoken with a relationship counselor. I told him that everything was going great with the shidduch, but he told me that his Rosh Yeshiva once gave him this advice, and now he gives it over to his talmidim. Shortly, before the wedding, go to a good frum counselor – and he had a few that he recommended. Speak out your fears, your concerns, your hopes and dreams. Learn to work on your communications from the start, and you will continue growing.
Most importantly, these weren’t just people who gave eitzos. They had both degrees and were real yarei shamayim. This isn’t not something to play around with.
A few years later, I was having a hard day and wasn’t happy with how I spoke to my wife. I consulted my mashgiach, and he asked me if we had gone back to the counselor. I had completely forgotten! We now make it a point to go every few years for a “tune up”, especially when things are going well. A relationship requires constant nurturing. Not just dates and walks together, but working on your relationship itself. These sessions aren’t a walk in the park and they can run upwards of $100 a pop, but the atmosphere at home is so much better afterwards.June 6, 2018 9:08 am at 9:08 am #1534294
The little I knowParticipant
I commend you for your openness and honesty. Your mashgiach has been giving valuable advice, and your experience is testimony.
It is a sad state that the preparation for marriage involves just a class in halachos. There is so much more needed. Neither bochurim nor girls have had the experience in socializing with the opposite gender (under ideal circumstances), and many unfortunately lack the parental role models to intuitively know how to manage the challenges of married life. Men and women will never think the same. This is a subject of much humor, but it is also absolute truth. Our Chazal address this many times throughout Shas. The guidance needed must include strategies for solving problems, communication, dealing with in-law families, managing anger, and making one’s spouse the most important person in your life.
Issues such as private life, finances, and in-laws are often blamed as the source of the trouble. All professionals know this is not true. These are simply areas in which the problems play out. Solving these issues will not repair a marriage. helping the couple to solve the matter together will bridge the two, and have them partnering on the issues they face. That is marriage. Sadly, when these differences are brought to a Rov, the tendency is to view this as a Din Torah, in which there is one who is right while the other is wrong. This simply manages to make the Rov part of the divisiveness, not the solution.
Marriage requires constant work, as life presents a constant stream of differences and challenges. Involving a professional (or a competent substitute) is a useful way to renew the commitments and hone the skills needed.
Today’s world involves challenges that never existed before. There are countless cases where devices have achieved number one status, higher than the spouse. This is likely even for men and women, and makes technology a serious threat to a relationship (excluding the negative material that may exist in cyberspace). No mashgiach or professional could have told you 50 years ago that one should shut off their cell phone when having family time with spouse and children.June 6, 2018 9:54 am at 9:54 am #1534343
I wonder if this would be considered מסייע, since they have plenty of opportunity to pursue their chosen course even without CTL’s help.
It would be assur regardless, it’s a machlokes whether d’rabbonon or d’Oraisa.
It’s certainly no better than wishing success to someone plowing during Sh’viis.June 6, 2018 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm #1534535
“MDG, I think you’re referring to a case where the original marriage was without קידושין. ”
I’m assuming that there were no kosher Eidim, therefore no Kiddushin according to some.June 6, 2018 1:22 pm at 1:22 pm #1534559
I have a question about the quote of Rav Miller, zt”l from the article:
>I know a case of a woman who goes to a marriage counselor. So I asked who is it?
> It’s a she. Is she married? No. So what kind of marriage counselor is it? It’s like taking
> driving lessons from somebody who never drove a car.
I’m in no position spiritual, experiential or educational to argue; I’m just trying to understand.
This logic doesn’t apply universally. Patients needn’t seek treatment from only those physicians suffering the same condition nor are only plumbers whose faucets leak qualified to repair them.
Yes, can certainly see the need to avoid those who don’t adhere to daas Torah in spiritual matters like marriage. Perhaps one should seek out only those counselors/rabbanim who have themselves gone through divorce?June 6, 2018 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #1535023
Patients needn’t seek treatment from only those physicians suffering the same condition nor are only plumbers whose faucets leak qualified to repair them.
You wouldn’t go to a doctor who wouldn’t be able to heal himself or a plumber who couldn’t fix his own leaky pipe. The fact that the doctor is well and that the plumber’s pipe isn’t broken has no negative implications as to their abilities. In fact, perhaps it indicates that they are good at preventing problems.
Perhaps one should seek out only those counselors/rabbanim who have themselves gone through divorce?
No, that would be moare analogous to a plumber who couldn’t fix his own leak.June 7, 2018 7:27 am at 7:27 am #1535091
Even by the Torah prohibition of לפני עיור (and certainly by מסייע) there is considerable discussion in the contemporary halachic works when dealing with not yet religious person if failing to provide a service will cause animosity and the issur is one which they are not aware of.
Don’t you guys think CTL would have asked his Rav a Shaila about something like this?June 7, 2018 7:31 am at 7:31 am #1535092
“It’s certainly no better than wishing success to someone plowing during Sh’viis.”
I’m not so sure
1) The Mishna’ot in the 5th Perek of Shv’is permit selling / lending farming implements to people who are choshud al Sh’viis provided that there is some other possible use for the tool. Those farming implements are obviously used for farming most of the time, still Chazal where lenient mpnai darchai Shalom. Only those tools which have no uses other then farming are prohibited to sell / lend. There are benefits to being civilly married even if the couple is celibate.
2) Even those farming implements that where permitted to sell / lend mpnai darchai shalom did enable working the land. Given the current societal standards (lack of standards) it’s doubtful that a civil marriage enables anything.
3) Wishing someone success at the time that they are actively engaged in a prohibited behavior is another matter altogether.
Your posts are generally very thought out, I assume you considered the above and disagree. I would be interested to know why.June 7, 2018 8:19 am at 8:19 am #1535110
Don’t you guys think CTL would have asked his Rav a Shaila about something like this?
I don’t know that it occurred to him. When someone publicly states that he did something which appears problematic, they should say that they had a heter, and what it was (if possible).
Your posts are generally very thought out, I assume you considered the above and disagree. I would be interested to know why.
I think performing a civil ceremony falls into category 3.June 7, 2018 9:12 am at 9:12 am #1535119
YW Moderator-29 👨💻Moderator
CTLawyer- Just noticing your absence, hoping it is voluntary and you and the Mrs. are well.
<<sidebar>>June 7, 2018 10:10 am at 10:10 am #1535164
Charedi kby soldierParticipant
DaasYochid said: No, the issur on chaivei lavin applies even if there’s no kiddushin.
See kiddushin 78a which states that rava and abayei both agree by machzeer grushaso שאם בעל ולא קידש שאינו לוקה דרך ליקוחין אסרה תורהJune 7, 2018 10:20 am at 10:20 am #1535209
I stand corrected. Kiddushin is required for there to be a lav.June 7, 2018 11:03 am at 11:03 am #1535272
DaasYachid: You wouldn’t go to a doctor who wouldn’t be able to heal himself or a plumber who couldn’t fix his own leaky pipe. The fact that the doctor is well and that
Quite right! But I think the analogy to the non-driver is weak in this detail. If the unmarried counselor is analogous to one who has never driven, then the first-time married is merely analogous to the first-time driver.
Licensed doctors, plumbers and drivers are (or are expected to be) trained – and independently tested – in addressing the challenges they are expected to face before being allowed to practice their profession/trade/skill.
What training/testing does the freshly smicha-ed pulpit rabbi candidate receive in order to qualify to give counsel in this area? Does being married and also a brilliant talmudic and halachic scholar suffice? Is there a formal apprenticeship-like training requirement?June 7, 2018 11:03 am at 11:03 am #1535276
“I think performing a civil ceremony falls into category 3”
How? When a person is working on Sh’vis they are doing a prohibition. What prohibition is occuring during the preparation and execution of civil legal documents?June 7, 2018 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm #1535330
Replies to all, especially Moderator 29.
My absence does have to do with Mrs. CTL’s health, not the topic and/or controversy.
Mrs. CTL was hospitalized three times in the past two weeks, had surgery and has to have another surgery tomorrow.. Bina Chana bas Sorel Rivel (yes that is a slight change from two years ago, we found some documents that corrected her name when going through my late MIL’s things this fall.
For those who questioned civil remarriages of formerly married partners who had a civil divorce and subsequent marriages also ending in civil divorce. Yes, I checked with my Rav. These are to gain civil benefits (e.g. Tax advantages). The couples were already living together before I signed the licenses and performed the ceremonies as a Justice of the Peace. None of the men have been Kohanim (to the best of their knowledge and my investigation). None have been frum, ans ALL are past child bearing age so mamzeruz will not be an issue in the future.
I do not now when I shall be able to read or post in the coming week. Please do not think I would post and run, just trolling or stirring the pot.June 7, 2018 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm #1535339
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