Ezra Stiles was a Congregationalist minister in Newport, Rhode Island in the late 18th century. He was a frequent visitor to the Newport Synagogue and there met Rabbi Raphael Hayyim Issac Carregal, a meshulach [fund raiser] from Hebron. In his diary, Stiles relates a question he asked Rabbi Carregal that stumped the good rabbi. After the rabbi agreed that marriage partners would be reunited in the resurrection, Stiles asked whether a woman was married to more than one man, to whom would she be reunited in the Resurrection? Rabbi Carregal (whose name is misspelled at that point in the diary, but spelled correctly elsewhere) replied that there are several opinions, but he did not know the answer. What opinions was he referring to?

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    I wonder, did Rabbi Carregal know that Ezra Stiles was making fun of him? This is, word for word, the same question that Jesus was asked by the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-28 (= Mark 12:18-23). The point there was to demonstrate that the Sadducees are wrong, "because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God": there is no marriage in resurrection.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 22:31
  • (And by the way, when you refer to a woman being married to more than one man, you mean in succession. Being married to more than one man simultaneously is adultery. I imagine that anyone who reads this question will know that, but just to be sure.)
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 22:32
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    @ShimonbM: I think you're right that Matthew was Stiles inspiration, but his diary, to me, does not appear to show gloating. What is surprising about the NT there is that they've got the Sadduccees saying there is a world to come,when they didn't believe in it. My belief is that the early Christian gospels confused the rabbis with the Sadduccees. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 0:57
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    Maybe, though it's also possible that the motivation of the Sadducees was to catch Jesus out, seeing as they knew that he did believe in such a world, and seeing as their question was such a poser. Both versions (Matthew and Mark) introduce the question by noting that the Sadducees didn't believe in the resurrection themselves.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 2:49
  • @ShimonbM: No, I think its just another of the many mistakes in the NT. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 13:48

4 Answers 4


Rav Pe'alim 2 - Sod Yesharim 2 says that she will return to her first husband since before Techiyas Hameisim the Neshama returns to the Neshama of the first spouse therefore it will remain so after Techiyas Hameisim. He further says that the (Guf) body that will get up for Techiyas Hameisim is a new Guf and the previous connection with the second husband will be broken.

Sefer Anaf Yosef - Sanhedrin beginning Perek Chelek says that the death of the first husband is similar to a divorce and the wife will remain with the second husband after Techiyas Hameisim.

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    Was Rav Pe'alim only thinking about widows, or also divorced women? While I've seen a gemara that suggests that the first wife is the one G-d intended for you, I've also seen some disasterous first marriages where people clearly married someone other than the one G-d intended for them (or else He intended them to be severely punished in this world). Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 18:24
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    @BruceJames: It seems to me that Rav Pe'alim is only talking about where the husband died. Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 18:27
  • If she gets divorced, and neither her or her husband remarries, are the resurrected together? Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 18:47
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    These are great sources as answers to question of "to whose soul will the wife return to?" But with regard to the question of "What sources were Ezra Stiles' friend Rabbi Carregal referring to?", he certainly was not referring to Rav Pe'alim as it was written long after the death of Ezra Stiles. And I'm not sure what Anaf Yosef is (who wrote it when), but if it's the same guy as the Anaf Yosef on Midrash Rabbah and Ein Yaakov, then it's also too late to be considered.
    – jake
    Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 20:15
  • @jake - you got a good point! Commented Mar 7, 2013 at 20:19

R Shlomo Aviner answers this question basing himself on the Zohar

Regarding a Jewish servant, the verse says, "If he arrives by himself, he leaves by himself; if he is the husband of a woman, his wife leaves with him" (Shemot 21:3). This means that he enters the Resurrection of the Dead with his wife – his first wife.

There are commentators who explain that the meaning of the Zohar is that she will return to her true spouse, i.e. the most successful marriage (see note in Piskei Teshuvah). Thus, she will return to the marriage which was filled with the most love, fraternity, peace, and friendship.

  • But what if it doesn't quite match up? Say Leah marries Revuen who dies, then she marries Shimon. Now Leah's most successful marriage was still Reuven, but Shimon's most successful (possibly only?) marriage was Leah.
    – Nic
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:20

R Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky in his Gesher Hachaim (section 3, chapter 8) asks to whom a woman married to two men (in succession) will return? He writes that the Zohar (Bereshit) answers she will return to her former husband.

R Tucazinsky quotes himself (section 1, 6:3) that this only applies where she had not born children to either husband, or else had children from both, but not if she had children from the second and not from the first. Other conditions affect this as well.


Rav Chaim Kanievsky [Doleh U'Mashkeh pg.394] writes that the first wife will be reunited like it says in the Zohar(Bereshis daf 21).

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