Is there an explanation in the Kabbalah as to why the Torah allows Polygamy?

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    I heard something in a shiur once. I can't remember it exactly. It was something along the lines of Yaacov's neshama was divided 5 ways, and 4 of those ways were his wives, and each brought a different aspect (Leah brought the "tears" of teshuva, for example). It might follow from this that those aspects' energy was huge then, and needed an entire person to bring it to the world, but nowadays, a single person can bring what's necessary to the marriage and so we only marry one, which has always been the ideal.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 11:41
  • 1
    I have read the same Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 15:42
  • 1
    I have heard the same Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 15:11
  • Why wouldn't the Torah allow polygamy (or specifically polygyny)? It is only allowed, not recommended.
    – N.T.
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 9:17
  • Why allow it if there's no mitzvah in it Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


From the Zohar below I think we can give an answer as to why Hashem permitted Polygamy:

זוהר חלק ב דף רנו/ב: ורזא דמלה, יעקב נטיל ארבע נשין, וכליל לון בגויה, ואף על גב דאוקימנא להאי מלה ברזא אחרא, דאיהו קיימא בין תרין עלמין, ורזא דכלא, כד יעקב נטיל האי היכלא דאיהו שתיתאה, נטיל וכליל בגוויה כל אינון ארבע נשין, ארבע מלאכין, וכלהו דבקי בהיכלא דא, אלין אינון ארבע רישי נהרין, דכתיב )בראשית ב י( ומשם יפרד והיה לארבעה ראשים, אלין ארבע רישין, אינון ארבע נשין דנטיל לון יעקב, ונטיל היכלא דא.

“The secret of the matter: Ya’acov took four wives and included them within him. Though we explained it through another mystery, NAMELY, that he stands between two worlds OF ATZILUT, CALLED ‘RACHEL AND LEAH;’ NEVERTHELESS, the secret of the whole matter is that when Ya’acov took this chamber, the sixth one, he included in it these four women, who were four angels, all attached to this chamber. These are the four sources of the rivers, as it is written, “and from thence it was parted, and branched into four streams” (Bereishit 2:10). These four branches are the four women Ya’acov married, who took this chamber (Zohar 2,156b).

The Zohar explains that the souls of Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah, were really four parts of one soul, called “Rachel.” This concurs with the tradition that all four were sisters. Rachel and Leah were even twins (Seder Olam Rabbah 2). The rectification of creation requires the reunification of all four parts into one soul. This is similar to how Ya’acov absorbed Esav into his being by first buying the birthright, and then receiving the blessings. The four holy wives of Ya’acov represent Ya’acov’s mission in the world to unify all these elements and thus rectify Adam, whose sin caused the fragmentation of the world. For the sake of this lofty rectification, Ya’acov had to marry four wives and deviate from the command not to marry two sisters. By joining together with one husband and overcoming the natural tendency of rivalry, Ya’acov’s four holy wives became as one unified person, enacting the highest tikun of creation.”

(Translation and explanation from https://www.berotbatayin.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/VayetzePolygamy.pdf)

I think that based on the Zohar we can maybe say that Adam's sin refers to two things: 1) the Eitz Hadaat, 2) How he wasted seed and caused all the demons and evil spirits to enter the world (Eruvin 18b). The message could be that are job was is rectify the sin of the eitz hadaat and was also to rectify the sin of Adam’s wasting seed, by having more than one wife in order to produce more Jews (since the Gemera in Brachot 6a says demons are more numerous than we are) who cause rectification and not destruction. To perform Torah and mitzvot, and not harm and kill people (Midrash Rabah Naso 12, Ibn Ezra Vakira 17, Brachot 43a). The reason Polygamy was prohibited Rabbinically was because people were causing more problems than rectifications (see here: When and why did we get rid of polygamy? for @sabbahillel who gives many reasons why polygamy is forbidden).

This is just a thought and answer that is possible. Hope it makes some sense :)

  • Great answer! I'm not sure you can say polygamy was prohibited miderabanan, at least not for all of klal Yisrael Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 9:53
  • @יהושעק, thanks! What type of prohibition was it, if not a derabbanan? And who in Klal Yisrael is an exception to this? Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 11:56
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    My pleasure, Avishai! Check out the answers here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11040/… Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 12:39

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