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Remarrying One’s Divorcee

I have been studying the Bible much more seriously in recent months to try to understand Moses’s words in their original context. Can you explain to me the basis for the law that one may not remarry his divorcee?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Much success in your studies first of all!

The Torah does not forbid remarrying one’s divorcee per se. It only forbids it if she married someone else in the interim (and then her second husband died or divorced her; Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The Torah states that she becomes “defiled” through her second marriage. What makes her defiled if she had a perfectly legitimate marriage to her second husband?

Several of the commentators explain that the reason the Torah forbids this is to prevent lewdness. If a woman could marry one man, then leave him for a second man and then come back to the first, it would enable much immorality. In the most extreme case, if two couples would desire each other’s spouses, they could simply divorce for a day, marry the second spouse, then divorce each other and return to their original marriages – all without technically breaking Torah law. Needless to say, this would completely undermine Judaism’s notion of the sanctity of marriage. Thus, the Torah forbade remarrying one’s divorcee (if she married in the interim) – reinforcing Judaism’s notion that marriage is eternal.

(Sources: Ramban and Sforno to Deut. 24:4, Sefer HaChinuch 580.)

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