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Passionately Peculiar

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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Passionately Peculiar

There was a yeshiva that would typically have their dinner in the springtime. However, it was during an economic crisis and the Rosh Yeshiva reconsidered having a dinner since the usual contributors wouldn’t be attending. However, one of the wealthy supporters of the yeshiva, named Avraham, objected and said that this year especially the dinner should be held. He said further that he will be responsible for all those missing contributions that generally come as a result of the dinner. At the dinner, Avraham spoke and mentioned the following explanation from R’ Shalom Schwadron.

The mishna[1] records different opinions concerning what sort of infraction on a wife’s part is considered valid grounds for divorce: Beis Hillel’s opinion is that even if she simply burned his food (אפילו הקדיחה תבשילו) he may divorce her.[2] How are we to understand this? What makes this mishna more problematic is that Beis Hillel is the school of thought associated with chessed (kindness), leniency, and yet here they allow for a divorce just because a wife burned the food?!


Burning food occurs occasionally in every marriage. The question is how the wife reacts. If she is a good wife, she will remove the burned part for herself and give her husband the tasty part. However, an unkind wife will split the burned food with her husband. An even worse wife will give her husband the burned food, and keep the good part for herself. Beis Hillel’s opinion is that if she burns his food (הקדיחה תבשילו), meaning she considers it his and gives him the burned portion, that is grounds for divorce, because it shows what type of shalom bayis they have.


Avraham explained that this applies to the current situation. When we have an economic crisis in our business, we offer that to Hashem. That is to say, we consider it Hashem’s money and the yeshivos, organizations and shuls are the ones that lose out. But we don’t cut back on our lifestyle. The level above that is where we split the losses: we cut back on our contributions to the yeshivos and shuls and also on our lifestyle. Then there is the optimal level where we assume the full responsibility of the yeshivos and shuls irrespective of our losses.

[1] Gittin 90a.

[2] R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky would say that anyone who would divorce his wife over burned food doesn’t have much of a marriage to begin with. Therefore she would be better off without him.

Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français
Author of Five Books including the recently released “Magnificent Marriage Insights: Captivating Torah Essays about Marriage”

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