It seems that Rabbi Menshe Kline claims (here) that Jews were first to institute monogamy.(a ban on polygamy)

If I understood incorrectly, What is he really saying?
Is he exaggerating(or literal)?
Are there other (Jewish) sources which say the same thing, also of what he really is saying?

  • 1
    Jews only (mostly) "instituted" monogamy about 1000 years ago, so this seems pretty unlikely.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 15:07
  • @DoubleAA so he is exaggerating?
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 15:12
  • 4
    Reading the text, it doesn't appear to say what you are understanding. The idiomatic expression "היה כל העולם נשא נשים רבות" in context means that polygamy was a widespread, common practice. It doesn't mean Monogamy didn't exist. Historically speaking, polyandry (either multiple wives or multiple husbands) was common across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and India. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 17:20
  • 2
    polygamy: one spouse having multiple partners. Polyandry: one wife having multiple husbands. Polygyny: one husband having multiple wives.
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:24
  • 1
    I don't know if he's exaggerating or literal. Interesting to note is Wikipedia (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Emden) claims the following about Rav Yaakov Emden: "He wished to revoke the ban on polygamy instituted by Rabbeinu Gershom as he believed it erroneously followed Christian morals, but admitted he did not have the power to do so". Their source: Louis Jacobs (1995). The Jewish religion: a companion. Oxford University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-19-826463-7. Not sure where in his writings he says that. Assuming it's true, it sounds like the Jews weren't the first to advocate it.
    – robev
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


I don't think that you can infer your conclusion from his text. All he said (at least from the page you linked to) is that other nations begin to imitate us after the Cherem.

That statement doesn't exclude the possibility that prior to Jews, some other culture had some ban, formal or informal, but no one followed that ruling. And, more likely, numerous cultures probably practiced monogamy without specifically issuing a ban. Many cultures, historically, as well as today, see the advantages of monogamy, or, rather, saw huge disadvantages and problems with polygamy. (Personally, I've always wondered how the wise King Solomon managed with all those wives. Ah yes, Kohelet kind of explains things :-)


I decided to post my comments as an answer:

  1. It weren't "Jews" it was just one Rabbi Gershom's ban that was eventually accepted in all European communities but totally ignored in all others (Eastern and Southern) till today.

  2. The reason was truly circumstantial, it was done out of convenience, not ideology.

It should be noted that the Gemmorah does have monogamous opinions [R' Gershom based his ban on] but they were not widely accepted as a binding Halacha:

"אמר רבי אמי: אף בזו - יוציא ויתן כתובה, שאני אומר: כל הנושא אשה על אשתו (מבלי רשותה) - יוציא ויתן כתובה. רבא אמר: נושא אדם כמה נשים על אשתו; והוא, דאית ליה למיזיינינהי [לזוּן אותה]. (Yevamot 65a)

  • +1 Maybe related רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, אֲפִלּוּ מָצָא אַחֶרֶת נָאָה הֵימֶנָּה
    – hazoriz
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 0:38
  • 1
    I don't feel like this constitutes an answer. At the end of the day, members of the Jewish people accepted upon themselves a ban on polygamy. The circumstances which prompted the ban are irrelevant to the OP's question: did any other group besides Jews ban it earlier? Or, are there any other sources besides the one brought that claim the Jews did it first?
    – robev
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 0:50
  • The assertion regarding this ban that it was “totally ignored in all others [European and Southern] till today” is totally wrong.
    – Oliver
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 1:13
  • @Oliver [it was a figure of speech to refute the claim that "Judaism" did so] But, please, continue, how did the others react?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 7:50
  • @AlBerko (No need to resort to untruths or “figures of speech” to refute a claim when facts would suffice.) There are quite a number of responsa from Rishonim where R. Gershom’s enactment was recognized, perhaps not absolutely binding but definitely halachically recognized and sometimes enforced. Besides, in Moslem Spain -not North Africa- polygamy was not accepted in that era.
    – Oliver
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 19:15

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