Jewish View on Marriage and Divorce
Torah is the fundamental source of all Jewish beliefs, and the point of reference that they always look up to in order to find answers with regards to maters touching on the aspects of life like marriage and divorce. However, it offers very little guidance regarding the procedures of marriage. Information on the method to be applied in finding a spouse, the form of the wedding ceremony, and the nature of the marital relationship are illustrated in the Talmund.
According to the traditional Jewish beliefs, marriage is regarded as a contractual bond that is commanded by God, whereby man and woman come together to form a relationship. God is directly involved in every marriage relationship. A Jewish marriage is expected to fulfill the commandment of child bearing through procreation. When a man and a woman come together in a union of marriage, they become one soul. In fact, man is considered to be ‘incomplete’ if he is not married, according to Jewish beliefs.
Jewish law requires that every marriage plan should begin with engagement (shidukhin). This refers to a contract between a man and a woman where the two mutually promise to marry each other sometime in future. Besides, the engagement also aims to set out the terms of the marriage. The promise may either be made by the intending parties or even their respective parents, or other relatives on their behalf. This promise is documented in a formal document known as the Shtar Tena’im (The Document of Conditions). It is then read, then the mothers of the bride and groom to-be break a plate.
The Jewish tradition and beliefs dictates that there are marriage rights and obligations that must be observed by both parties. These are clearly set out in the Holy Bible. Traditionally, the husband is obligated to provide for the wife and family. A detailed report of all the rights and obligations of the two are spelt out in the Ketubot in the Talmund.
Divorce is viewed as a spiritual amputation in Jewish culture. In the event that it takes place, the husband and wife are separated from the one soul that they became during their wedding. Based on how painful divorce is, it is considered as a last resort when issues between the two cannot be resolved. Even though it is not looked at favorably in Judaism, it is not prohibited and at times encouraged. Rabbis of the Talmund considered marriage to be a holy matrimony or contract, such that the decision to divorce would be an unholy act.
Regarding divorce, rabbis of the Talmund quote prophet Malachi, ‘’the Lord has been witness between you and your wife of your youth against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, the wife of your covenant.’’ According to the Holy Bible, a husband has the right to divorce his wife, but a wife cannot begin the process of divorce. According to Jewish law, marriage is not dissolved until a bill of divorce; get is exchanged between the husband and wife.
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