click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

An Inconvenient Truth
Mom with a View

An Inconvenient Truth

Lessons from the Gores' divorce.


The sorry saga of Tipper and Al Gore’s separation continues to fill the airwaves. After the initial shock came the speculation: Why? The scandal – with The Star reporting details of an alleged affair. And the contagion, with their daughter announcing a split from her husband of 13 years.

But more than all these issues (which are real and relevant and each deserve their own column) are two prevailing emotions: sadness and fear.

The sadness reflects a loss of hope. Despite the rising divorce rates, we remain optimistic. Young girls still dream of marriage (even high-powered career women still dream of marriage) and couples still get married in record numbers -- just ask anyone who has tried to book a hall in June! We like stories of love and happily ever afters. We believed in the Gores, we believed in the power of their 40 years together and we feel hurt by their split.

This leads us to the deeper consequence -- the anxiety and fear. “If it could happen to them…” It’s a threat to our stability and world view. Certain couples made us believe it was possible to have long, loving relationships. The dissolution of their marriages threatens our whole belief system, throws us off, challenges our expectations.

We begin to second guess -- first them, then ourselves. We start to analyze and overanalyze. Was it too many years? Did they lead separate lives? Did they take each other for granted? Even the absurd -- did they never recover from the 2000 election loss?

We are desperate to get to the bottom of it – to learn what went wrong, not to titillate but so we can avoid the same mistakes.

But perhaps it’s not necessary. After all, who can really understand the ins and outs of anyone else’s relationship? And who can judge?

Yes, there are times when divorce is necessary. It’s the “after 40 years” that stuns us. I have no idea what happened inside the Gore home but I can comment on some of the common reactions to their break-up.

Perhaps the most frequent response has been to suggest that marriage was never meant to last this long, people are not created to be monogamous for that many years, our longer life spans permit us to lead two separate lives, one after the other…

This is a convenient excuse for the lack of one thing -- a true understanding of the meaning of commitment. And it can’t be blamed on longer life spans. Our world is full of people who lived to a ripe old age and stayed married for a wonderful 60 years, and sometimes even longer. Our forefather Abraham and his wife Sarah had their first child when she was 90 and he was 100 – their marriage survived hardships and challenges that we can’t even imagine. There is no suggestion of boredom or the need for novelty – that is the part that is new. Sarah never says “What about my needs?” That is the part that is new. Their friends don’t encourage Abraham to dump Sarah for a younger model. That is the part that is new.

Not only did Abraham and Sarah understand the meaning of commitment, they also knew what gratitude was. They would be shocked by the all-too-common phenomenon of the woman who puts her husband through medical school or raises the children while he’s jumpstarting his career and is then cast aside for a trophy wife. They didn’t focus on variety or witty repartee or drifting apart. They just dug in their heels, faced their challenges, and made it work. They were willing to put in the effort – constantly, always – for as many years as they had.

We’re disappointed by the news about the Gores. And we’re frightened. But are we willing to deepen our own understanding of commitment and to really do the hard work for the long run? Perhaps their unwillingness to do that, perhaps the unwillingness of many of us to do that, is the most inconvenient truth of all.

June 19, 2010

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 17

(17) jgarbuz, June 25, 2010 3:43 PM

All marraiges are doomed to fail....

unless there is a strong commitment to stick to it regardless, just out of principle. In Jewish law, marriage is a contract. But the contract can be dissolved under certain circumstances. We do allow divorce. But the reality is, that people get older and change, mentally and physically, and that is why it is so important that BEFORE there is a marriage that they really learn all they can about each other. Often, the use of an impartial and mature "shidduch" can actually lead to a longer lasting marriage.

(16) Rachel, June 25, 2010 1:56 AM


The Gores' marriage is the Gores' business -- and no one else's. If you want to write about marriage, please do -- but leave these people alone!

(15) Anonymous, June 24, 2010 6:33 PM


Wow. I did not understand this article at all. You wrote, "Who can really understand the ins and outs of anyone else’s relationship? And who can judge?" and yet, throughout, judgment and assumptions about the Gores' marriage abound. As someone commented already, there are many reasons for divorce. And whether it happens a year after the wedding, or in this case, 40 years after, means nothing. Of course it's all over the tabloids and the news and everyone is eager to jump in and have their say, but really: Aish, too? I thought when I saw the head-line that it would be a more generalized commentary, perhaps focusing more on role models and how to learn from their example, not a commentary on how selfish Al and Tipper Gore are. This did not teach me anything, least of all compassion. I'm just very surprised - I never feel compelled to comment on articles here before. It read like a complete judgment call, with very little actual insight, and a lot of slander. "Perhaps their unwillingness to do that... is the most inconvenient truth of all." How do you know what went on in their actual marriage? Why make such a stretch just to teach a lesson, if in the process you're spreading more judgment when there's already enough out there? It just seems so antithetical to the message you're trying to spread.

(14) Anonymous, June 23, 2010 2:16 AM

Marriage consists of two people

Sometimes, no matter how committed one spouse is, the marriage just does not work.A marriage is to consists of two separate individuals who both must work at the relationship. The relationship must evolve over time with committment from both spouses. If one spouse gives everything and more to make it work and the other does nothing...not committed. This is not a marriage that Hashem created. It is difficult to have a marriage when only one person is committed and the other is not committed even after many years. That's the reason for divorce as painful as it is. My heart goes out to anyone divorced or staying in a marriage in which only one person is committed.

(13) Rachel, June 23, 2010 1:39 AM

Gore Marriage - Yawn!

I'm not disappointed or frightened by their impending divorce. Tipper is fortunate to be getting rid of him. I wish her well. And sorry, but I don't think Avraham Avinu & Sara have anything to do with the Gores.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment