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Based on Hashem "divorcing" Klal Yisrael after we turned to avoda zarah recounted in Yirmiyahu (3:8)

וָאֵ֗רֶא כִּ֤י עַל־כָּל־אֹדוֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר נִֽאֲפָה֙ מְשֻׁבָ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שִׁלַּחְתִּ֕יהָ וָאֶתֵּ֛ן אֶת־סֵ֥פֶר כְּרִיתֻתֶ֖יהָ אֵלֶ֑יהָ וְלֹ֨א יָֽרְאָ֜ה בֹּֽגֵדָ֤ה יְהוּדָה֙ אֲחוֹתָ֔הּ וַתֵּ֖לֶךְ וַתִּ֥זֶן גַּם־הִֽיא׃ I noted: Because Rebel Israel had committed adultery, I cast her off and handed her a bill of divorce; yet her sister, Faithless Judah, was not afraid—she too went and adulterated.

How could Hashem 'remarry' Klal Yisrael if Devarim (24:4) writes it is assur to remarry a divorcee after she strayed with another husband?

לֹא־יוּכַ֣ל בַּעְלָ֣הּ הָרִאשׁ֣וֹן אֲשֶֽׁר־שִׁ֠לְּחָהּ לָשׁ֨וּב לְקַחְתָּ֜הּ לִהְי֧וֹת ל֣וֹ לְאִשָּׁ֗ה אַחֲרֵי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֻטַּמָּ֔אָה כִּֽי־תוֹעֵבָ֥ה הִ֖וא לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וְלֹ֤א תַחֲטִיא֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָֽה׃ (ס) Then the first husband who divorced her shall not take her to wife again, since she has been defiled—for that would be abhorrent to the LORD. You must not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a heritage.

  • 3
    Are you assuming God is bound by halakha? Why would you assume God is bound by anything; least of all, halakha? Why would you assume that metaphorical marriage and rebellion have the same guidelines in halakha as technical marriage, even if God were bound by halakha. It isnt clear what exactly you are trying to ask. – mevaqesh Jul 2 '17 at 9:08
  • Precisely, that seems to be my cousin's question. It could very well be that Hashem doesn't 'need' to keep the Torah, although the gemara not using such an answer (yoma 86b) implies He might restrict Himself to keep that halacha. – NJM Jul 2 '17 at 12:22
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    Who is your cousin? He / she is unmentioned in the question. Also the passage in Yoma is unmentioned. Editing in all this information, would greatly improve it. – mevaqesh Jul 2 '17 at 16:55
  • @mevaqesh a metaphor is better if all the details fit. If there's an aspect of the metaphorical marriage that doesn't fit with a literal marriage, it needs an explanation, or it's a bad metaphor. – Heshy Jul 2 '17 at 17:39
  • @Heshy Not sure what your point is. If your point is that the question is unclear, I agree. – mevaqesh Jul 2 '17 at 17:41
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In Sifrei Devarim 306:2 it says (towards the end):

שוב למחר עתידה שתאמר לפניו: רבש"ע, כבר כתבת (ירמיה ג) לאמר הן ישלח איש את אשתו והלכה מאתו והיתה לאיש אחר! אומר לה: כלום הכתבתי לך, אלא איש! והלא כבר נאמר (הושע יא) כי אל אנכי ולא איש! וכי גרושים אתם לי, בית ישראל? והלא כבר נאמר (ישעיה נ) כה אמר ה' איזה ספר כריתות אמכם אשר שלחתיה, או מי מנושי אשר מכרתי אתכם לו?

Afterwards Israel is destined to say: But You have already written (Jeremiah 3:1) "If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, can he return to her again?" He: Did I not write "a man"? And have I not already told you (Hoshea 11:9) "for I am G-d, and not a man!" And have I divorced you, house of Israel? Is it not already written (Isaiah 50:1) "Where is your mother's bill of divorce by which I sent her away, or to which of My creditors have I sold you!"

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NOTE: I am looking for a more developed answer than this one - which I initially considered offering my cousin who asked the question.

  • A) Hashem doesn't necessarily need to 'keep the Torah'.

  • B) Klal Yisrael and Hashem seems to be a metaphorical husband-wife relationship which isn't bound by halachos of a husband-wife.

  • C) The gemara Yoma (86b) seems to ask this very question at the top of the daf

אמר ר' יוחנן גדולה תשובה שדוחה את לא תעשה שבתורה שנאמר (ירמיהו ג, א) לאמר הן ישלח איש את אשתו והלכה מאתו והיתה לאיש אחר הישוב אליה עוד הלא חנוף תחנף הארץ ההיא ואת זנית רעים רבים ושוב אלי נאם ה' § Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Great is repentance, as it overrides even a prohibition of the Torah. How so? As it is stated that God said: “…Saying: If a man sends away his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again? Will not that land be greatly polluted? But you have committed adultery with many lovers; and would you yet return to Me, said the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:1). Indeed, the Torah states: “Her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after she has been made impure” (Deuteronomy 24:4). The relationship between the Jewish people and the Holy One, Blessed be He, is compared to that between a husband and wife. Just as it is prohibited for an adulterous wife to return to her husband, it should be prohibited for the Jewish people to return to God from their sins, yet repentance overrides this prohibition.

However, my cousin responded that this gemara appears to go against Devarim (4:2) as Rav Yochanan seems to be removing the issur via teshuva:

לֹ֣א תֹסִ֗פוּ עַל־הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אָנֹכִי֙ מְצַוֶּ֣ה אֶתְכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א תִגְרְע֖וּ מִמֶּ֑נּוּ לִשְׁמֹ֗ר אֶת־מִצְוֺת֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶֽם׃ You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I enjoin upon you.

  • NJM, if you like an [your] answer, consider marking it correct. – ezra Jul 2 '17 at 13:23
  • It is a metaphorical reference not a halachic reference. – sabbahillel Jul 2 '17 at 14:47
  • @sabbahillel My initial thinking was with you - if you have a source for it, please let me know! – NJM Jul 2 '17 at 19:05
  • @sabbahillel Just mulling over that Gemara over Yom Tov. Had exactly the same question and exactly the same answer - great minds think alike. :) – DonielF Oct 1 '17 at 1:25
  • I would argue that the very fact that the gemara takes this metaphor literally supports the premise of the question. Much ink has been spilt discussing the relationship between halachah and spiritual realities. That Hashem is talked of as a husband to Israel isn't just a "nice" metaphor but may be seen as an extension of the halachic reality of marriage. Just as the relationship to ones parent's also mirrors the divine avinu malkeinu. – Isaac Kotlicky Oct 1 '17 at 3:11

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