To Divorce or Not To Divorce?

Dear Rabbi

My wife and I have a terrible relationship. We are fighting and screaming all the time. I think our marriage is doomed but I am concerned about the social stigma. We are a frum family and in our circle it will affect our two children as they grow up and want to marry. People shy away from kids from divorced homes. Is that reason enough to stay together?


Dear FD

Your obvious first port of call is professional counselling. You mustn’t throw in the towel until such point as someone objective who stands outside the relationship can look in and determine whether there is hope going forward. I would argue you should consider someone religious as yourselves who always appreciates the complexities in a frum family lifestyle. That said, I think it is utterly absurd to consider staying together purely for the sake of sparing your kids some supposed stigma. Aside from the sad fact that divorce is more of an acceptable norm today, there is the far more significant point that your kids, growing up in a hostile environment will find it so much more difficult to form meaningful relationships of their own. They will develop in the belief that screaming and abuse is one way to resolve problems, and will likely find themselves in the same vicious pattern as yourselves. The greatest gift parents can give children in order to give them the edge to become a winner is that Mommy loves Daddy and Daddy loves Mommy, through tenderness and sensitivity. When a child is raised in a home where they see care, love and respect, they will grow with care, love and respect. When they see constant criticism and arguments they will grow to be critical and argumentative. To that end, it’s not about what other people are going to say. It’s about giving your kids the best chance in life. And sometimes it is better to come from a broken home than to live in a broken home.



Is this another Jewish superstition?

Dear Rabbi

My grandfather passed away a while back and my grandmother wants to give his several pairs of shoes, all in good condition, to a charity shop. I was once told you can give away clothing but never shoes. Is this another Jewish superstition?



Dear Raymond

It’s not about not being allowed to give them away it’s about whether someone is allowed to wear shoes of a deceased person. A great 12th century scholar, Rabbi Yehudah HaChasid wrote a tract in which he discusses numerous customs based on deep spiritual and some practical significance. There he writes that one should not wear the shoes of a deceased person. However the reason for it was rather ambiguous: Some suggest a more spiritual reason based on the Talmudic statement that when one dreams of a deceased person coming to take away any object it is a positive sign, unless it is a pair of shoes. Dreams tend to be generated by daily activity and as such wearing a deceased’s shoes could generate such thoughts whilst sleeping, which is a bad omen, hence to avoid it altogether. An altogether different and more practical interpretation of this injunction is that leather could be a transmitter of contagious diseases. It would follow therefore that if the person did not die of a disease, say an accident, then there would be no such concern and wearing the shoes should not be a problem. On balance, Rabbi Yehudah HaChasid was a deeply spiritual person, so I would err on the side of caution and avoid it altogether.



Would it be permissible for one to walk to a football match on Shabbat?

Dear Rabbi

Would it be permissible for one to walk to a football match on Shabbat if they didn’t carry anything or break Shabbat in any way and picked up their ticket at the ground?



Dear James

And what if you are a Spurs supporter and after you arrive, you watch them lose, slipping further away any title race or an Arsenal supporter watching them lose again, never quite making it to the top (I’m trying to offer realistic scenarios here). Bang goes your Shabbat enjoyment! How’re you going to deal with that? Bottom line: Beyond all the practical dos and don’ts of Shabbat, there is an overriding principle of the “spirit of Shabbat” that has to be maintained. Doing any sort of such mundane activity is not in keeping with that spirit. Why do you think they don’t put Match of the Day on till after Shabbat goes out?