Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Considering a Divorcee or Widower

by Rebbetzin Nomi Travis


Dear Shadchante,

I am a single girl who has been in shidduchim for more years than I want to mention. I've reached the point where I feel that I should consider previously married men, i.e. widowers and divorced men, but I do not know how to go about this research. By now, my family does not get so involved in my social life and I feel like I need tools for researching dates, for processing the dates and sorting out what I feel/think after a date...

Another point I wanted to air concerns: my family and friends. I sense that a lot of people who are close to me feel burned out and keep their distance about discussing/ suggesting shidduchim for me. It IS a sensitive topic for me but I feel like I need someone to speak to in a non- pressured free and easy way. Can you advise all the "well intentioned eitza-givers" to play it cool. Not to pressure the mature girls/fellows in shidduchim, yet to stay connected to us??

Thank you in advance,

I hope you can help the situation . . .

P.S. I follow your column religiously....

Single and trying to stay sane"


Part II


I expressed to a renowned posek the impenetrability of getting to the heart of things, to the core of the causes of divorces. How do we find out exactly what went on and what happened?

Each side has their version of what went wrong. Even when both parties are heard out, it's difficult to imagine what really went on behind the four walls. Each carries a heavy load of bitterness, rage, frustration . . . I had on occasion met separately with each party and their accounts were so contradictory that it was nearly impossible to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

When asking a so-called "neutral party," like a neighbor, what guarantees that the report is totally unbiased? Does he have the full picture? A shalom bayis therapist won't be allowed to reveal what went on in the sessions because of basic professional ethics. There are exceptions, but usually a relative can't be expected to be objective either.

Someone you know to be respected and trusted will have a much more valid report than a mere reference that is unknown. But in any case, ask the informant what his impression is based on. Before asking any questions, elucidate the relationship the reference has with the person asked about. That will give weight to his account, indicating if he is coming to justify one of the sides or if he can give over what went on, factually, without distortions.

Since the halochah dictates that the more serious the relationship, the more information is revealed, don't expect to be told all the details before meeting. Obviously it is not necessary for everyone to know everything, but we hope that yirei shamaim will ask shailas and not withhold what must be said.

The key response I received is that judges are one of the main sources of information. A reliable Beis Din will look into the situation rather then automatically give the divorce, unless it is an obvious and urgent need. When there is hope for reconciliation, they try to influence the couple to go for counseling. Otherwise, a file is registered for the separation process. There are clear-cut cases where a spouse had a severe emotional problem — being abusive, unstable and non-functional, among the most serious.

It is recommended to ask for help from someone you know who has experience in making inquiries and who is well connected. He might have better tools than you to get to the information available. If this relative or acquaintance has a respected communal position he will have an easier time to get to the judges that were involved in the divorce.

Do not undertake to make all the decisions alone. Find someone that can advise you, which you look up to and who has experience in guiding others in shidduchim. It is a critical period in your life and the situations you might face are quite intricate. By all means, only open your heart to capable, understanding, caring contacts. If you brainstorm, you will come up with a relative, teacher, neighbor, etc. who really cares and will be able to assist you. It is a rapport that has to be developed.

Don't expect to simply approach the acquaintance and it will be automatically clear what is needed. You must be able to respect such a mentor and feel at ease that there is mutual understanding of what you are looking for and what are your concerns. For that you need to be willing to confide, keep in touch and even more important — receive guidance!

"Well-Intentioned Eitza Givers"

My wise mother says that if opinionating were not free, it would have been given much less. Although nine out of ten speech measures were given to women, both beings like to talk and voice their opinion. Yes, even when it is not requested.

When we want to give, we have to ask ourselves not what we would like to do, but what is wanted! Even when someone opens up, in general, the need is much more to be heard, to feel warmth and love then to be told what to do.

If we would think twice before we open our mouths, we would transgress onaas devarim much less. Although we might be strict in other areas of religious law, we tend to forget that there is endless room to be stringent on bein adam lechaveiro. Being older and single is painful enough; we have to be careful not to add pain to the wounds . . .

Therefore, rather then intruding, the worst you can do for an older single is to treat her like a nebech, claiming to be the all powerful that has just the right solution or segula to her predicament. Positive encouragement and friendly cheerful words go a long way and can literally save the day when someone is down. What you can and should do is pray and try to think of appropriate suggestions!

(Rebbetzin Travis has many years of experience and success in helping people through shidduchim. Please note that all names have been changed unless specified, with the exception of well-known public figures like Gedolim and educators. Any comments, questions and stories can be sent to: or at (02) 656-3111)


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