The gemara in Gittin 90b has a memoir that says if a man divorces one's wife the mizbeach, the altar, cries over this. Why and how is the mizbeach connected to marriage and the separation of man and wife?


I heard R' Tuvia Weiss (Ga'avad BD"TZ Yerushalayim) observing that the Mizbe'ach is used to seeing animals becoming sacrifices however, beacuse divorces cause children to be become sacrifices, even the mizbea'ch finds that painful.

  • Very nice, just wanting to know what it means by causes children to be sacrifices?
    – Russell
    Jun 17 '20 at 16:36
  • He was refering to the unfortunate effects divrorce has on the children of the couple.
    – terryg
    Jun 18 '20 at 16:44

The Chidushei Agadata of the Maharsha points you to the same memoir in Sanhedrin 20a.

There he explains that the Mizbeach - usually - gets the bird offerings that a wife brings, mostly from the first wife.

I.e. once she is divorced, the Mizbeach gets fewer offerings, hence the Mizbaech being upset over their divorce.

I guess "second marriages" tend to be with older ladies, hence less chance of the Mizbeach getting a lot of bird offerings as a result. (I'm open to other explanations.)

כל המגרש כו' אפילו מזבח כו'. הוא משל כאלו המזבח בוכה עליו שהמגרש אשתו אשת נעורים ממעט אכילת זבחים דאשת הנעורים מצויה שמביאה קיני זיבה ולידה למזבח והיינו דקאמר קרא מאין פנות אל המנחה שהיתה מביאה בזיבה ולידה ואמר על כי העיד ה' בינך וגו' לפי שודאי אם מצא בה דבר ערוה מצוה לגרשה כדאמרינן בסוף פרק המגרש לזה אמר כי העיד ה' בינך ובין אשת נעוריך וגו' כדאמרינן זכו איש ואשה שם י"ה לא זכו אש אוכלתן וזה שמסיים והיא חברתך ואשת בריתך שלא בגדה בך להפריד את השם מביניכם ואסור לך לגרשה למעט אכילת המזבח בזיבתה ולידתה ועיין בזה עוד בחדושי הלכות סוף מסכת גיטין וק"ל:‏

  • But what does that even mean surely the mizbaech gets offering anywhere, there is no 'lose' and decrease in offerings on the Mizbaech?
    – Russell
    Jun 15 '20 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Russell it loses the offerings that a woman brings when she has kids, since she won't have any more (unless she gets remarried).
    – Heshy
    Jun 15 '20 at 10:22
  • @Heshy So the main problem is the side of the woman bringing offerings but not the side of the Mizbaech still getting offering
    – Russell
    Jun 15 '20 at 10:43
  • @Russell if the woman doesn't bring them the mizbeach doesn't get them...
    – Heshy
    Jun 15 '20 at 10:44
  • @Heshy So it the side of the Mizbaech not getting offering from the woman
    – Russell
    Jun 15 '20 at 10:45

I had a chidush about this once, building off the anthropomorphic nature assigned to the Mizbeach in this Medrash.

The Mizbeach was not the only edifice originally allowed upon which to bring sacrifices. One was also allowed to sacrifice upon a Matzeiva, aka a Bamah. In fact chazzal said the Matzeiva was beloved in the times of the Avos, but fell out of favor. See here

מצבה שאהובה לאבות שנואה לבנים

So, in a sense, Hashem was courting the alters upon which we could have a relationship with him. Ultimately the Mizbeach was singled out. The Mizbeach therefore, more so than any other vessel from the Mikdosh, understands the feelings a person has when they choose to marry, having been chosen from amongst all other perspective suitors. And therefore the mizbeach is the one that cries when that bond is dissolved. There was never an alternate ark to the Aron, candelabra to the Menora, or table to the Shulchan from which the ones for the Mikdash were chosen. So they can't commiserate with this emotion. The Mizbeach, as noted, can.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .