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The mishnah on Gittin 90a lists two starting reasons that could be grounds for divorcing one's wife:

ובית הלל אומרים אפילו הקדיחה תבשילו שנאמר כי מצא בה ערות דבר ר' עקיבא אומר אפי' מצא אחרת נאה הימנה שנאמר (דברים כד, א) והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו

[He may divorce his wife] even if she burned his dish, as it is stated: “Because he has found some unseemly matter in her” . Rabbi Akiva says: even if he found another woman who is prettier than her, as it is stated “And it comes to pass, if she finds no favor in his eyes” (Deuteronomy 24:1).

2 Questions:

1) Aren't these 2 reasons- burning her husband's food, husband seeing someone prettier- ABSURDY shallow?

2) Doesn't divorcing for one of these reasons run counter to the EXACT reason why Chazal instituted a Ketubah? (Ketubot 11a- "So that she will not be inconsequential in his eyes, enabling him to easily divorce her")

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    I don't understand question 1. Has anyone claimed they aren't shallow? – Double AA Apr 29 at 19:13
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    I don't understand question 2. Has anyone claimed that it was hard to divorce before the Ketubbah was enacted? – Double AA Apr 29 at 19:14
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    To the "modern" person today, these reason may seem petty. (though, truthfully, currently, people divorce their wives for even "dumber" stuff than burnt food, but that's a separate problem.) I think you (and I) need to view in more detail what was considered the husbands obligations to his wife as well as his rights as a husband. From my recall, the husbands obligations to his wife were so enormous that the Gemarah considered it his right to have tasteful food. I'm pointing out that if you were to balance obligations vs rights, it may put perspective to this. – DanF Apr 29 at 20:35
  • For point 2, isn’t that exactly the reason the rabbis made a decree, because biblically it was so easy? – Menachem Apr 29 at 22:24
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    @alicht -- Isn't it just a way of saying that a man may divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever, or even for no particular reason? (He must then compensate her per the terms of the ketubah.) – Maurice Mizrahi Apr 30 at 1:37
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I heard a fascinating explanation.

You could ask an even better question: Both R' Akiva and Hillel were champions of the "Love your neighbor - don't do unto other" weltanschauung. How could they possibly allow one to divorce one's wife for "nonsense"?

The answer given is that by codifying that one may divorce a wife for "nonsense", it essentially protects her.

The other opinion (of Bet Shammai - which you didn't quote) says that you can't divorce unless she indulges in inappropriate behavior. Thus if a woman gets a divorce she is automatically branded as a loose woman; who would want to marry her, now?

Come along the opinions you state and say "you can divorce for any old reason" - so if a woman gets divorced there's no reason to suspect she was sleeping around. Maybe she didn't cook to her ex's liking. Thus she isn't automatically excluded from the Shidduch scene.

So how do you prevent "divorces for shallow reasons"? You institute a Kethuba; this makes the husband think twice before divorcing her. If he still decides he's better off without her then (1) she doesn't get a bad name and (2) she is probably better off not being married to him.

(Keep in mind that it's not rocket science to frame your wife for inappropriate behavior, or to pay off some bum to actually have an affair with her, if you would pasken like Bet Shammai. So this solution is much better for her.)

  • solid stuff- shkoyach! Would you happen to have a link? – alicht Apr 30 at 10:08
  • You should try to address the subject of how marriages are classified, meaning the subject of 1st marriage and what the nature of the relationship is (wife from your youth, etc.). That’s what this is really about. – Yaacov Deane Apr 30 at 11:02
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I once heard an explanation (I don't remember the source): If he considers the fact that she burnt the food an issue in their relationship, it is a strong indicator that their relationship is almost worthless, and warrants divorce. If finding somebody else prettier is an issue for him, then it is a sign that something is missing in his relationship.

In other words, these scenarios are not reasons for divorce, but indicators that the relationship is a shallow, hollow shell of what marriage should be.

  • This doesn’t follow the commentaries on this subject in Gittin or elsewhere. – Yaacov Deane Apr 30 at 11:43

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