Question Part I

I work with a frum person who does a LOT of counseling. He has recently asked me if I can clarify the different shittos in hadrachah amongst the Rabbanim in terms of how they advise couples as to when to follow through with a divorce and when to keep trying to work it out. Can you help with this or alternatively steer me to someone who can? The question is coming from this person who has been told by numerous people he works with different approaches that they have been told by their rabbis. He wants me to help him do a birur so he knows more directly what the common shittos are on issues like the difference between married with kids, without kids, age factors, types of irreconcilable differences and defining them, etc. Anything you can do to help me on this point would be greatly appreciated.

Answer Part I

I cannot give an all encompassing rule on this — I need to have a therapist (or party involved) speak to me about the individual situation. In general, I am extremely dissatisfied with the results of most therapists; and I am the rabbi who is always encouraging people to go to them. I refer very few therapists — and feel that many are not very competent. I also have found little correlation between the extent of a therapist’s training and degrees and their level of competence. I also feel that if both members of the marriage are psychologically sound, they should be able to resolve their own marital issues (albeit they may require a proper therapist to assist).

Question Part II

Have you dealt with any clear cut situations where it was obvious that the people needed to get a divorce and why?

Answer Part II

Yes. Here are a few:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Where he was unable to physically perform satisfactorily
  3. Where one party was no longer observant to a point that a marriage could exist.
  4. Where one party suffered from OCD to the extent that they were completely wrapped up in themselves and could not listen to a conversation about anything that did not revolve around themselves.
  5. He is physically neglectful to a point that I would consider it abuse.

Question Part III

I am surprised to find no mention in your answer above of the cases in the gemara about her having a problem of ervas davar (to varying degrees). Have you encountered or heard of any of those and the ramifications?

Answer Part III

I have never had any cases that resulted in geirushin. The reasons for this are generally because:

  1. The guy is probably not holding by a higher standard of tzniyus then this from his own wife.
  2. He is not makpid on her indiscretions for some other reason

Remember that we are discussing cases of lack of tzniyus dress and style. I do know of some real znus cases that ended in divorce, and some that did not and probably should have. I also know of a guy, a real malach, whose (very frum looking wife) was carrying on with another (very frum looking) guy, but no aveiros chamuros were violated.

Question Part IV

Do you know to what extent the beis din or rabbanut require efforts in order to continue with proceedings?

Answer Part 4:

The Eretz Yisroel Beis Din will grant an automatic 6 months if either side requests time for shalom bayis counseling. Of course, this is often used as a negotiating/delaying tactic.