February 18, 2009 8:47 pm at 8:47 pm #646360
Anon your research is more thorough than my thoughts 🙂 The only thing is that if a man marries 4 women, and two die in childbirth, I don’t think he marries 2 more, does he? But ultimately, I have no idea!February 18, 2009 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm #646361
anon for thisParticipant
SJS, not necessarily. But if there are an equal number of men & women, then this man’s four marriages means that 3 other men will not be able to marry at all, and won’t have the stabilizing influence of wives/ children in their lives. Really I’ve done no “research” on this at all, I’m just remembering facts I’ve read about it. But it’s a question I’ve had for a long time about how polygamous societies are sustained in the long-term (I can easily understand how polygamy would temporarily stabilize a society that loses a significant percentage of men, say to a war). I’ve particularly wondered about how Jewish polygamous societies work, since marriage/ having children is such an important mitzvah for Jewish men (and Jewish life is so family-centered), & it would seem that polygamy means at least some men will never get to do this at all.February 19, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am #646363
The Big OneParticipant
Re Jothar and chassidim and soulmates: in the Litvishe (pardon the expression but more yeshivishe) world, that’s not expected either. Men and women do pursue separate directions a good part of the time. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l would have some interesting input in that.
And frankly, I don’t feel that my husband is less than than my soulmate-soulhalf, etc. if he doesn’t accompany me everywhere, and the reverse is true too.
tzippi, Excellent point. Hagoen Rav Avigdor Miller (who’s not Chasidish) wrote in his book, Awake My Glory:
1095. There cannot be two kings. The marriage relationship is two-fold. 1) The wife is submissive. This is not only Jewish but natural. There can be no harmony when there are two commanders. Without this indispensable condition, the home is disordered. “Arrogance is unbecoming a woman” – Megillah 14B. For a man it is not an ornament, but for a woman it is as if she wore a mustache. 2) The second, but equally essential foundation: a man must always demonstrate respect for his wife. This is “the way of Jewish men that… honor and support their wives in truth” as stated in the Jewish marriage contract. “He honors her more than his own body” – Yevamos 62B, Bava Metzia 59A. He is the captain, but she is the First Mate whose counsel is respected. She cannot be made a doormat, she need not beg for money, she deserves some assistance in the house chores, and the husband sides with her against his kin. He must express frequent appreciation and give words of encouragement, and he should remember his wife from time to time with gifts, big or little. Husband and wife should always say “Please” and “Thank You” and never forget to be always polite to each other.
To an untrained observer, if not told the source, would possibly presume this is only a Chasidisha view; but in fact it is the Torah view and how we’ve succesfully practiced marriage throguhout our long history.
can anyone explain to me why it used to be perfectly ok for a man to have more than one wife? i have never heard a satisfactory answer to this and i would really like to understand this.
ames, To make it short and sweet, it is because the Torah says so. (I don’t think Sefardim have been mekabel Rabbeinu Gershum’s takana at least until in the last few decades. Some Yidden cane to Israel from Arab countries with more than one wife.) But this was the exception; most people had one. Its difficult enough affording one wife (hehehe ;-), how many people could actually afford more??
Jothar, which Chazal says that the ideal is one man, one wife. (It shtims, just want a source.)February 19, 2009 1:21 am at 1:21 am #646364
Joseph – you said “BasYisroel, It was said over that the Rebbe insisted on 2, while Rav Bick insisted on 8. (Not “at least 8-10″.)”
Well my Rav told me it’s 8-10.8 or 10 is a big diffrence from 2 or 3 dates?
The point is that a lot of Litvish Rabbonim and yes Gedolim have been advocating for longer dating time-not 2 or 3 dates!February 19, 2009 5:09 am at 5:09 am #646365
Big one, it was in the marriage books I read when I was in the parsha, with a good source. It’s clearly mashma like that with all the midrashim that the woman is the other half of the neshama, eizer kenegdo, etc.
Agreed 100% that Rav Avigdor Miller’s viewpoint is the authentic Jewish viewpoint on marriage. It’s tougher today, though, with educated women
Ames, of course women cared about their husbands spending a different night in someone else’s tent. Parshas Vayetzei, while keeping in mind we’re speaking about tzidkonios, clearly shows the strains that multiple wives can cause. While multiple wives are allowed, it’s not an ideal, and Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi goes out of his way to point out that multiple wives cause each wife to try killing the other with witchcraft- marbeh nashim marbeh kshafim. It’s just that the Torah is aware that humans are not always perfect, and it’s better to allow multiple wives than for the husband to be mezaneh. The Torah allowed yefas toar too, not that it was meant as a good thing.February 19, 2009 4:19 pm at 4:19 pm #646366
SJS, not necessarily. But if there are an equal number of men & women, then this man’s four marriages means that 3 other men will not be able to marry at all, and won’t have the stabilizing influence of wives/ children in their lives.
But if we go with the assumption that they are marrying down a generation, and you assume that each man has 4-6 daughters…then if he marries 3, there are still others available. This only works if they marry the next generation though.
I just don’t understand what has changed from the time when multiple wives were allowed to now. Are women different? Did they not care that their husbands spent different nights in another woman’s tent? Did women only depend on the husband financially and not emotionally?
Times were a lot different then. Survival was much harder. There wasnt really any time to relax. The men were out farming and the women were cooking/cleaning/preparing. Household work was MUCH harder – they didnt buy flour in the bag. they had to prep it. They had to light fires (no gas stove!). And they had to do this every day. Having help cooking, cleaning, raising the kids…it was probably a blessing more than anything. Sure, your husband wasnt exclusive to you, but unless your husband was a rare case (like Shlomo Hamelech), he may have had 4 wives? But no, I have no desire to share my husband (though someone is welcome to share the cleaning and cooking LOL).
The wife is submissive. This is not only Jewish but natural. There can be no harmony when there are two commanders. Without this indispensable condition, the home is disordered. “Arrogance is unbecoming a woman” – Megillah 14B. For a man it is not an ornament, but for a woman it is as if she wore a mustache.
I personally disagree with this, and could never be in a marriage like this. I am an equal partner in my marriage. What that means is we discuss the situation and decide how to go (in non-halachic matters). We generally end up coming to some sort of mutual conclusion, but in the rare case we dont, and both options are viable, we go with whomever feels more passionate about the topic. It has nothing to do with arrogance – sometimes people just have a different perspective that works better. Sometimes I know better, sometimes my husband does. When my son is old enough to give mature opinions, he may have the better answer. Wisdom is not based on gender.February 19, 2009 6:10 pm at 6:10 pm #646367
Multiple wives does not mean more lachatz (pressure). It means less – the husband can tell each wife that he is with the other wife, and then go back to work unhindered. (old joke, sorry)
ames, society is truly different than it was then. I’m not saying that women did not have the emotional needs that they do now. They certainly must have. But the fulfillment of those needs was not available through men. In general, society did not expect men to cater to the emotional needs of women the way it does now. That was true whether the man had one wife or four. Your expectations are based on today’s standards, which are quite different.
The Torah also does not demand that a husband fulfill his wife’s emotional needs to the extent that you expect based on today’s standards. It varies by the man’s profession. For example, if the man is a seafarer and he has four wives, he may only see each of them once in two years (one visit per 6 months).
I don’t know what the facts are relating to men forced to remain bachelors. I would expect that it is not so and that those men who wanted to marry and survived to marriageable age (i.e. men of property or means who did not die in wars) were able to marry. (Of course, society may have considered a good portion of men unfit for marriage, i.e. ineligible bachelors, but that is a separate issue).
There is also the age gap factor. Here (as opposed to the agenda taken on recently) I will throw my support behind the theory that if men generally married women who were a full generation younger than they, there would be a significantly higher population of marriagable women than men. But I could not say if the chicken laid the egg or vice versa (so to speak). I do know that until not too long ago in certain areas of Europe men did not marry until around 40, to women in their 20’s. The lack of polygamy created certain man/woman mismatch issues.
As to why polygamy “made sense”, I would posit that since women truly had no place in public society, marriage was the only possibility of life for them. Why then should a girl remain in the home of her parents, where she is little more than a liability (she can help with household chores, but I imagine that her net worth was not positive) if she can marry a man who will see her as an asset? A man with 3 wives can still want another asset. So they got married young, and to the best man they could get. Very, very different today.
To answer why men wanted multiple wives, try to think as a man in a polygamist society. Multiple wives shows status. Multiple wives means a large progeny, or dynasty. Obviously, a man would want to marry as many women as he can.
I’m sorry if the values of previous generations bother you. But our values would probably bother them much more. Do we think of our children as a sign of status or do we think of Lexuses (Lexi?) – at least they valued people more than things.February 19, 2009 7:59 pm at 7:59 pm #646368
I think a good way to sum up a lot of the recents posts is that nowadays, marriage is more of a “luxury” than it ever used to be. Not from a Torah perspective of course, but from a practical survival perspective. Allowing multiple spouses allowed multiple women to be supported.
Women are a lot more educated and financially independent than they used to be. This makes submission harder than it used to be. I’ve spoken to rabbeim who agree that this submission, while ideal, is just not going to fly in today’s world. The current recommended compromise is the man is in charge of ruchnius, the woman in charge of gashmius.February 19, 2009 8:49 pm at 8:49 pm #646369
They say marriage takes work. Do you think back when polygamy was the norm, shalom bayit standards were different? Did husband and wife love each other?
Absolutely they loved each other! Didn’t Yaakov love Rachel? I am sure he loved all his wives, each in their own manner.
I think back then though, kids didnt interact with their parents the way they do today. I think meals were much more segregated – men and then women. It wasn’t the atmosphere we have today.
I think marriage is harder today because we have more expectations. We demand more love, time, energy, compassion etc. We give more of the same too. Also, if you wanted space, your husband had other wives to go to. Nowadays, its either you or no one. So, even if you arent in the mood of hearing your husband’s long boring story, you really have to listen and he in turn will do the same for you.
Marriage definitely takes a lot of work, and I think plenty of marriages fail because people don’t want to make it work. One of my coworkers gets to travel all over the world because she is single and making nice money. Its nice to have no responsibilities also. But thats not the life you chose when you got married and I think people forget that sometimes. They want to live the single life while being married. I’m not saying you can’t go out with your friends alone (I do that plenty of times), but its just different.February 19, 2009 8:49 pm at 8:49 pm #646370
Ames, as much as we want to try to understand this, we won’t be able to get this understanding by looking at the Mormons. Maybe not even by looking at frum sefardim (e.g. Yemenites). The mindsets are just so entirely different than what we’re working with now. (And frankly, I don’t know too many men who have a clear understanding of marriage who would find it appealing.)February 19, 2009 9:25 pm at 9:25 pm #646371
anon for thisParticipant
Officially the Mormon Church is against polygamy, and few practice it today. The fringe groups that do practice it tend to marry off girls at a very young age, about 13 or 14, to elder (religious leaders) within the group who are decades older. Young men are often kicked out of the group so they won’t compete with the elders for wives. For these and other reasons, I really doubt polygamy, as practiced today by the Mormon fring groups, is anything like the polygamy practice in the Torah.February 19, 2009 9:39 pm at 9:39 pm #646372
SJS, sometimes you are in the mood to listen to your husband’s long boring story? Is it always boring, just sometimes you are in the mood? Oh boy, I am going to have to stop talking to women altogether.February 19, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm #646373
I though it’s the guy that has issues with the wife’s long boring story.
Husband and wife go through some experience together. He recounts the story to his friend in 4 minutes; 4 days later she still hasn’t reached the punch line.February 19, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm #646374
Squeak LOL. When I am not in a bad mood, I generally find his stories interesting. But when I am not…then they are long and boring 🙂February 19, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm #646375
Amongst the Yeshivish Litvishe and even more modern heimishe people in England, the average amount of shidduch meetings a boy and girl have is five – some less and some more. The parents make extensive enquiries about family, boy/girl, financial matters, etc. etc. before boy and girl meet, so that by the time boy and girl meet all they really need to see is if they like each others company and have same outlook in life.
this you can see in about four or five meetings.
the way it goes on your side of the pond does not seem better than this, you have divorces, broken engagements etc. even with weeks or months of dating, Here you don’t often hear of broken engagments/divorces and don’t go and say that people go around in unhappy marriages because that is not so, we are broad minded people here and counsellors etc are NOT HUSH HUST
Marrigage is all about working on your middos and giving in, What you can’t see in 4/5 meetings, you may never see in all your months of dating and may anycase only come out once you are married and living together so makes no difference how long you date for.
The shidduch crisis is definatly less severe here!
How about revamping your method, I heard R’ M Salamon – Lakewood Mashigiach would like to change to do european way…………February 20, 2009 12:36 am at 12:36 am #646376
From England, you also drive on the wrong side of the road 🙂February 20, 2009 1:26 am at 1:26 am #646377
From England – Gut Gezugt!
Jothar, Hagoen Harav Avigdor Miller was from, and wrote/spoke for our Dor. He said what was quoted above many times including recently. You can’t argue on Rav Miller based on unquoted, unsourced, unnamed rabbeim.February 20, 2009 3:55 am at 3:55 am #646378
Joseph, I can’t argue effectively enough for people to listen to me on this without quoting, but it is true that my rabbeim told this to me. As anything to do with shidduchim, anyone who doesn’t hav a rav or rebbe to speak to will flounder anyway. When approaching shidduchim, one simply needs a kesher with someone to talk to and make sure they’re doing the right thing. I can just imagine being on a date and saying, “I’m looking for someone to be submissive. Are you my bashert?” I’m not arguing on Rav Avigdor Miller. I’m just saying it takes the other side to agree to this, and good luck with that. My rabbeim also agree that Rav Avigdor Miller’s shita is the ideal. They just are aware that many of today’s girls are not as willing to abide by it as they used to be. I’m sure Rav Avigdor Miller would agree that it’s not me’akeiv the shidduch if the girl is a bit more independent-minded like we find today.
Submission works when there is the other side- a mechabed ishto yoseir migufo on the part of the husband. If one is properly mechabed ishto yoseir migufo, one sees his wife being more submissive in appreciation of her husband’s tzidkus. Otherwise, if the husband isn’t doing his role, why should she do hers?February 20, 2009 4:08 am at 4:08 am #646379
Jothar, the point is how to act in marriage; Rav Miller is not particularly discussing anything about Shidduchim. Baed on Rav Miller, this midda is expected to be a given; not something to be “discussed” (with a shadchan or whoever.)February 20, 2009 4:33 am at 4:33 am #646380
ames, ideally the husband should be the primary breadwinner. Rav Miller ZT’L always said that the wife should give her paycheck to her husband to cash.February 20, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm #646381
Joseph my paycheck gets direct deposited. R’ Miller and I never seem to be on the same page (or in the same book)…
I think in todays day and age, many couples are working for similiar/equal pay. My husband and I trade off who is higher based on our yearly raises.February 20, 2009 1:57 pm at 1:57 pm #646382
Of course the wife should give her earnings to her husband, he does own it (her earnings) as per the Takanah of Mezonos Tachas Masse Yadyim (Many places in Shas, including BK 8B). She does have the right to reject this Takanah, but her husband may not be happy about it.
It has nothing to do with shidduch dating.
Ames: The wife should be submissive and the husband has the last word.
“Yes Dear” 🙂
Seroiusly, Rav Miller is talking when the woman’s advice is valued, thought over, and they discuss the issue. Then they (husband and wife) come to an agreement (or at least understand each other’s reasoning), and they implement. Not much different than equals (assuming they are willing to be agree they like each other enough to give in on the silly stuff and follow halacha so they agree to ask a Shaila on the important stuff).
The problem is whan one side (either husband or wife) is a Moshel over the other side and does without a discussion on what the best method is. “My way or the Highway” should not be in the vernacular of a Jewish home. The husband MUST allow his wife to make him into a better person, and Vice Versa.February 20, 2009 2:01 pm at 2:01 pm #646383
Re Joseph: so are you saying the men should go out to work and the women stay home with the family? What a radical idea!
And about Rav Matisyahu shlita saying that America should look to the English way for shidduchim: I would like to know the exact context. I doubt he is recommending the 3 -5 date shidduch system as much as the European mindset. I don’t know what it’s like with European boys now but they had a much more wholesome mindset and different expectations of women and marriage then many American boys did.February 20, 2009 3:21 pm at 3:21 pm #646384
Joseph, if ideally the husband should be the breadwinner, are you saying kollel is not ideal? 🙂
This is the thing about power- the less you use it, the more you have it. Parents who rarely yell at their kids find their rare yells have more power than parents who yell at their kids all the time. Yonasan rosenblum wrote recently in Mishpacha how all the recent kol korehs pushed by askanaim have weakened the hold of the gedolim on the amcha. It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s true. Respect and submission have to bearned. Rav Avigdor Miller also writes, if I remember correctly, how the key is vitur. The gemara in yevamos 63a says “In Eretz Yisroel when a man marries a woman, they ask (or tell) him,’found’ or ‘find’? Found means ‘He who found a wife found good’, and ‘find’ means ‘and I find womankind worse than death'”. I forget my girsa deyankusa, but one of the meforshim there says that they are in fact telling the man that if he’s mechebed ishto yoseir migufo, it will be good. Otherwise, it’s worse than death. Sure, the man is “tzurah” and the woman is “chomer”, and tzurah acts on chomer not vice versa. This submissiveness is supposed to be a given. So is the mechabed ishto yoseir migufo. You can’t have one without the other, or you have an abusive relationship. In other words, if submissiveness is a sine qua non of marriage, so if treating one’s wife with the utmost respect. The Gr”a writes in Parshas Chayey Sarah that the kashe zivugo shel adam kekrias yam suf is because the husband has to always calculate if something is worth putting his foot down, or if he should be mevater. As the marriage books say, marriage is about giving, not getting- ahava is “ana hav”. If you give kavod, you then get deference and respect. If you don’t believe me on this, please read “The River the Kettle and the Bird” and other such works.
There is a famous story with the Chazon Ish ZT”L, that his wife once came in while he was having a meeting with someone else and said that she doesn’t have the ingredients for chicken fricasee, so they’ll have to have plain chicken. When she left, the Chazon Ish ZT”L told his visitor, “I don’t like chicken fricasee.” This after years of marriage- he never put his foot down.
Years ago in my yeshiva days, I had a roommate who bought a hamster. (Yes we were both litvaks so we weren’t makpid on being mistakel bebeheima temeah.)He expected the hamster to give him adoring love and affection right away. Once he got upset at it for not being that way, and he got a bite and a sphincter release on his hand for his efforts. I treated it nicely, and got the love and respect from it.February 20, 2009 6:09 pm at 6:09 pm #646385
Ideally we should be living the life of a southern planter, and then we would have the time, but that all ended with the war of Northern Aggression 🙁
JKFebruary 20, 2009 8:02 pm at 8:02 pm #646386
Rav Miller was clear that a man (ideally) should be the breadwinner. With a Kollel family, that ideal may be unattainable. Kollel is ideal too for those that can.
gavra, I’m not sure what you mean she has a right to reject a Takana of Chazal. She might reject it, same as she might reject kashrus.
Jothar, it has nothing to do with “power”, its all about how a marriage naturally works and what the Torah expects. Of course both points are a sine qua non of marriage; Rav Miller said so befeirush in the quote from his Sefer above.February 22, 2009 2:39 am at 2:39 am #646387
I believe the way my rabbeim put the partnership is 51%-49%, not 100%-0%. It’s chochmah and bina working it out to come to daas, not chochmah overriding binah.
The takana of chazal gavra_at_work was referring to was a takana for her benefit. She gives her husband the maasey yadayim, she gets redeemed if she is captured. the gemara is clear that she has the right to say “no”. It’s not like rejecting kashrus- the gemara gives her the power.February 22, 2009 3:05 am at 3:05 am #646388
No one said anything about overriding anything. My Rabbeim always put it as a 100%-100% partnership.February 22, 2009 5:40 am at 5:40 am #646389
R’ Miller calls the husband “captain” and the wife “first mate”. That’s a definite power to the man, but a close second for the woman.February 22, 2009 9:03 pm at 9:03 pm #646390
I once heard a speaker put it very nicely. The husband and wife are as if in a play. The husband of course is the main actor. However, the wife is the scenery. The the backdrop in teh play is sunshine than even if the main actor wants to come in shivering and act cold, he can only do in the play as the backdrop allows. So the one that sets up the backdrop is actually setting the stage for the act that the main actor can play.February 23, 2009 2:57 am at 2:57 am #646391
Getting back to the original topic, I got a chance to speak to my rav and poseik tonight. Unfortunately, there was a line of people needing to ask more important shailos. I asked him about the change in dating styles and he told me that today’s people can’t handle the old style when their parents set them up. He told me one of his chassidishe friends told me if he had a choice he would allow his daughters to date the American way, except then his daughters would never get married. As always, ask your LOR.February 23, 2009 8:19 pm at 8:19 pm #646392
I have relatives who meet their husbands/wives once or twice before they marry them; the main difference is expectations.
Getting engaged on other people’s word of middos is moronic. Do you know how many guys I dated that were supposed to be “selfless, giving…” blah blah and proved otherwise on the very first date? (But we only called 2 ref the most)
The guys I did no research about turned out to have better middos than the ones who promised to be sooo nice and special and yadda yadda.May 14, 2009 7:58 pm at 7:58 pm #646393
i think that dating for a short time or long time has nothing to do with a good or bad marriage- i know plenty of ppl that dated for months and got divorced and i know ppl that dated for very short that are very happy.
on a date, any man with common sense will act like a mench, even if hes rotten inside, you cannot tell whether or not their stingy, mean, insensitive etc.
a man never acts himself when hes on a date- even if he is a good man-hes still not thesame, bec their nervous and they are told to put up a show.
so by dating 1 or dating 8 times- you wont know the boy better-
A personal story-
i know a girl, she was really against short dating and she told her parents that before 7-8 dates dont even discuss a lchaim. well she met a boy, and after the first time she was ready to get engaged- after the second she told her mother to call the shadchan to move on with the shidduch- it was very ironic how the whole situation turned out.when the right one comes, you know its the right one.so whats the point in waiting even longer? and if your not sure then go on a 2nd or even a third but 8 and 9 times i think is ridiculous. oh and btw this girl is one of the happiest married girls i know!!!May 26, 2009 1:16 am at 1:16 am #646394
yeah but plenty of times you are dating someone great but there is so much confusion. i know many of people that have great dates but are so unsure if it is their bahsertMay 26, 2009 1:53 am at 1:53 am #646395
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