You shall not commit adultery

Texts and beliefs By Rabbi Jeremy Gordon 05th Jun 2019

As a newly ordained Rabbi, I wasn’t prepared for the damage adultery would wreck on families in the communities I have served – across multiple generations. 

The Talmudic tractate Gittin ends with a discussion on the grounds for seeking divorce. While Shammai permits divorce only for some terrible matter, Akiva believes that simply finding another person more attractive than one’s spouse should count as sufficient grounds to carefully and seriously break the bond of Kiddushin – sacred exclusivity – that is at the heart of married life. But not adultery! 

In pre-wedding meetings with the couples who ask me to officiate at their weddings (and as I write this I’m aware I may be driving others away!) I share this hopefully sobering instruction. Suppose, I suggest, you find yourself at some getaway event, maybe a work retreat at a fancy hotel, and suppose some combination of wine, music, sunsets and the like lead you to find someone enticing in a way that might threaten the sanctity of your marriage, and suppose you find yourself drifting towards this destructive sin – see my face, button up your clothes and get out of there. Get a divorce, if you feel the need. But not adultery! 

[This is part of the publication “The Ten (Masorti) Commandments.” The full booklet can be found here.]

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Behar Bechukotai