Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Religious Studies

Judaism: marriage and divorce

Divorce , remarriage and cohabitation

Jewish marriage is intended to be for life but it has always been accepted that sometimes things do not work out. If the marriage breaks down and divorce [Divorce: The legal ending of a marriage before the death of a spouse. ] appears to be inevitable, the man has to give his wife a get. This is a document of divorce and has to be presented at a rabbinical court (Bet Din).

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her… he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,

Deuteronomy 24:1

The divorce then takes place after three months to make sure that the woman is not pregnant. Without the get the couple cannot be divorced in Jewish law. After a divorce there are no restrictions on the man and woman remarrying.

It is possible for a man to refuse to get to his wife. Most Progressive Jews see this as unfair and will allow the woman to apply for a get.

The Torah [Torah: Law; teaching. The word Torah can be used in a narrow sense to mean the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (The Five Books of Moses) and also in a wider sense to include the whole of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. ] warns Jews about marrying outside their religion:

Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4

However a growing number of Jewish men and women do marry non-Jews. When this happens in an Orthodox family the father may say kaddish (the memorial prayer said at funerals) to show that his child is now dead to him.

Couples who do not have a Jewish wedding would be cohabiting [Cohabitation: Living together without being married. ] and this is not approved of.

Back to Human relationships index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.