I have read that Abraham gave Hagar a divorce but the source was disreputable and I could not find a reputable one.

The context here is that I am learning Iyov and thinking about the misfortunes that some must bear. The talmud says "Anyone who divorces his first wife - even the Altar sheds tears." (Gittin 90a-b)".

edit: we can ask why Iyov is afflicted/punished by one means but not another. Here I am asking why Iyov was not afflicted/punished by divorce and who was. The first question posed -- who was -- is historic, but it sets up the second question posed (what does the tradition say regarding these marriages) that is certainly Judaic/theological.

  • I don't think there ever were any who divorced their wife. Many remarried after their first wife died, but I don't think there's any that just divorced them.
    – ezra
    Sep 1, 2017 at 4:17
  • Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin had a heter meah rabanim: hamodia.com/features/day-history-9-elulseptember-4 -- I once heard that he got advice from a chassidic master not to get the heter meah rabanim, and R' Tzadok attributed his childlesssnes to ignoring that advice.
    – Menachem
    Sep 1, 2017 at 6:37
  • Moshe Rabbenu was divorced (some say twice!) Sep 1, 2017 at 11:23
  • 1
    The seridei esh. The beit halevi. R. Dov schwatzman.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 1, 2017 at 12:29
  • partial dupe judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22360/759
    – Double AA
    Sep 1, 2017 at 13:28

2 Answers 2


The Biblical source for Abraham divorcing Hagar is Genesis 21. The word גָּרֵשׁ (which means divorce in other contexts, such as Leviticus 21:7). Though some bring an opinion that Abraham remarried Hagar, who was later called Keturah (Rashi on Genesis 25:1).

Moses also divorced his wife Zipporah and took her back (Exodus 18:2). Again, the word שִלַּח is used for divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1 and Malachi 2:16. This also seems to be how Rashi understands it.

Rabbi Yosi Hagelili is another (post-Biblical) case of divorce, as told in Genesis Rabba 17:3 and Leviticus Rabba 34:14. To quote the story from Wikipedia:

Jose's married life was unhappy. His wife was malicious and quarrelsome, and frequently insulted him in the presence of his pupils and friends; on the advice of the latter he divorced her. When she married again and was in straitened circumstances, he was magnanimous enough to support her and her husband.

  • ...and then (according to the Midrash) Moshe divorced her again, and she wasn't happy about it.
    – Heshy
    Sep 1, 2017 at 12:03
  • How do you see that Rashi understood that Moshe divorced Tziporra?
    – robev
    Sep 3, 2017 at 22:49
  • @robev The wording is "לכי לבית אביך", which is actually more ambiguous than I remember it when I checked it
    – b a
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:50
  • Maybe he meant go to your father's house while I redeem the Jews? And I'll get afterwards?
    – robev
    Sep 4, 2017 at 12:04
  • @robev Yes, for that reason it might be ambiguous, though some other commentators (e.g. quoted in Ibn Ezra, short version) do explicitly understand it as divorce
    – b a
    Sep 4, 2017 at 12:20

The biblical source for Abraham's divorce from Hagar is as cited in the first answer; the traditional source is the Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer (ch. 30) where it is stated that Abraham was instructed by Sara to write a bill of divorce for Hagar and he complied. This is subsequently echoed in Targum Yonatan (Gen. 21:14).

With regards to other great figures, @Ezra , with respect, is wrong. R. Yaakov Loberbaum (author of the 'Netivot Yaakov') was divorced twice, see here & here. I recall [reading or hearing that] R. Elchanan Wasserman too divorced. R. Menashe Klien divorced and remarried sometime later (source: I know the family). If I tried spending more time refreshing my memory I'm certain I can recall other examples.

Additional: R. Aaron Rokeach (previous Belzer Rebbe), R. Shmuel Salant.

  • Consider adding sources or links for these assertions.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 3, 2017 at 19:09

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