Judaism: marriage and divorce
Family and the home are central to Jewish culture and religion.
Marriage (kiddushin) is very important in Judaism because family and the home are thought to be great blessings.
A man without a woman is doomed to an existence without joy, without blessing, without experiencing life’s true goodness, without Torah, without protection and without peace.
The importance of marriage is emphasised in 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. ]:
A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
According to the Midrash (a collection of various Rabbinic commentaries) this is because:
God created the first human being half male, half female. He then separated the two parts to form a man and a woman.
The Jewish wedding ceremony is very short. The man makes a vow to the woman in which he says:
Behold, you are consecrated to me by means of this ring, according to the rituals of Moses and Israel.
A Jewish marriage takes place under a canopy (called a chupah), which represents the home that the new couple will share.
As part of the marriage the groom signs a contract (called a Ketubah) that contains his promises to his wife.
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,
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.
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.
|Year||Number of divorces||Year||Number of divorces|
|Year||Number of marriages||Year||Number of marriages|
|Year||Number of marriages||Percentage of marriages|
|1990||-||47% of all marriages|
|2004||184,910||68% of all marriages|
|2005||160,270||65% of all marriages|