Parshas Ki Teitzei – The Beauty of Divorce

This week in the Torah:

The laws of divorce.

Mishnah (Gittin 9:10):

“The Academy of Shamai says, ‘One should not divorce his wife unless he finds, in her, actual immorality.’…The Academy of Hillel says, ‘Even if she [intentionally] ruined his food, [he is permitted to divorce].’…Rabbi Akiva says, ‘Even if he found another woman more attractive [he is permitted to divorce]. For the verse (Deuteronomy 24:1) states, “If she does not find favor in his eyes…”.’”


Man’s soul is compared to the male aspect, in contrast to his body (and its surroundings), which are compared to the female aspect. (For, the soul is the giver of life and meaning to the recipients – the body and its surroundings.) Everyone’s soul is “married” to its body and surroundings to elevate them and make them something welcoming to G-d Almighty. This is the soul’s mission on Earth.

Hence, a Chassidic interpretation of the above Mishnah:

“The Academy of Shamai says”:

When can a person change his current spiritual service? Only as a last resort, resulting from “actual immorality,” i.e. clear and extreme opposition to Torah law in his current situation.

“The Academy of Hillel says”:

Even if just his personal “food,” i.e. his spiritual faculties, are being ruined, he can change to another Divine service.

“Rabbi Akiva says”:

Even if he merely does not enjoy his current Divine work, he may choose a different, “more attractive”, enjoyable spiritual service.


The law is in accordance the Academy of Hillel. One must persevere even if at the moment he does not enjoy his G-dly labor. But if it’s ruining him, then, “by law,” he may search for a more accommodating service. All the more so, if his current situation opposes Torah.

This is by the letter of the law. Most preferably, however, is when:

Even in a situation that seems to oppose Torah, he should not be hasty to leave. Indeed, due to self-pity, desiring easier service, he might be misinterpreting a potentially viable situation for something that opposes Torah. Since he was Heavenly ordained to be there, upon careful analysis he might find the situation redeemable after all, and make the “marriage” work – thereby drawing the Divine Presence into it.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4, Ki Teitzei)

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