Volume 15 Number 44
                       Produced: Mon Oct  3  0:19:01 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

divorce rates and the quality of marriage
         [Constance Stillinger]
         [Ellen Krischer]
"Marriage Part 2"
         [Zvi Weiss]
Translating Ish V'isha
         [Ilene  M. Miller]


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 1994 11:57:27 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: divorce rates and the quality of marriage

Shaul Wallach wrote:
> ...
>      Connie (Chana) Stillinger wrote as follows:
> >Although I agree that one serious problem with the modern world is a
> >failure to take marriage seriously,
>      The consensus I perceive among the other responses is the reverse
> - that we take marriage today too seriously; i.e. that we expect too
> much out of it. But I agree that marriage needs to be taken more
> seriously in the sense that more needs to be done to strengthen it.
> >                                    I think it is important to realize
> >that divorce rates may rise when individuals are given some freedom
> >precisely because they find the freedom to end lousy marriages.
>      Here again, this talk about "freedom" reflects modern, alien
> influences. Our Rabbis gave us this definition of freedom: "There is no
> free person but one who occupies himself with the Torah." 

Whoa, I'm more on your side than you think!  You and I are using
different definitions of the word "freedom," apparently.  I'm using it
in a very narrow way, to mean the real availability of concrete choices,
without judging whether it's good or bad to have those choices.

> In most cases
> it is not the marriage itself that is "lousy" but the devotion of the
> partners to Torah values. If they really behaved themselves the way the
> Torah teaches them, they would find the ultimate freedom within their
> marriage. On this point I will dwell at length in Part 3 of this series.

I think we agree that lack of devotion to Torah values can lead to lousy
marriages.  I just meant to point out that rising divorce rates in the
relevant traditional communities *might* be *diagnostic* of serious
problems in many of their marriages.

To my surprise, you actually seem to be suggesting that such communities
may be failing to inculcate important Torah values in the first place
(else so many marriages wouldn't be foundering).

I'll agree that the best solution to the problem of divorce is
prevention through the dedication of both partners to Torah values.  But
in the meantime, before this solution can be implemented, what should be
done about husbands/wives who are abused by their spouses?

Most importantly, what do we do for the *children* of such miserable
unions, and the (mis-) education about Torah values in marriage that
they're receiving from their parents?

Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger    <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University


From: Ellen Krischer <elk@...>
Date: 26 Sep 1994 14:10 EDT
Subject: Marriage

Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>  writes in: Marriage - Part 2
>       If parents had enough love between them to bring the children
> into the world, then they can find enough love to raise them together.

Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily take any love at all to bring a child
into the world.  Most of the time all it takes is a physical act. (Although
with today's technology...but that's another story...)

In fact, I think this was the point made by the original poster:  we want
to encourage 'happy' 'successful' 'pick-your-favorite-adjective' marriages
so that there *will* be love, intimacy and genuine caring between the
individuals.  Such a home provides the emotional support and stability
that children need.

So the $64,000 question is:
    How do we best ensure 'good' 'successful' marriages?  

And the answer is....(drumroll)
    No one answer is right for everyone.

Although I philosophically differ with Shaul on a number of issues, I
must say that I believe the outlook of marriage he describes is right ....
for some people.

Some people are very capable of making excellent choices in two weeks in
the face of parental pressure.  Others are not.  Some women are delighted
with the role of homemaker, mother, and wife, and their husbands are delighted
with the role of learning and teaching.  Others find the need to use
particular God-given talents in the community or workplace.  I believe we
can find examples of all of these types of people throughout T'anach and

We are all made in God's image, but that doesn't mean we are all make alike.

Ellen Krischer


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Sep 1994 12:02:31 -0400
Subject: Re "Marriage Part 2"

While I understand and hear Shaul's point of view clearly, I am a bit
more hesitant to blame "foreign influences"... If we assume that the
Torah is truly eternal, then it means that we can find guidance in all
social situations -- in the Torah ...AND, it should not be necessary to
adopt a "wagon train" mentality.

I agree that it is wrong to describe marrying a 12 yr-old as pedophilia
as the Gemara clearly feels that it is a great idea.  At the same time,
it is legit. to comment that the CURRENT social situaiton does not
easily permit such a set-up.  Shaul make this point clearly but I do not
see any need to get involved in a discussion of "rasha 'arum" here.

There may be a "positive correlation" between rising divorce rates and
men/ women working together -- BUT that could ALSO mean that WE (men and
women) are not observing the relevant halachot for such situations --
and not that the situation is, per se, "evil".  Again, when citing the
Gemara, keep in mind that the gemara also points out that one must not
even look "improperly" at the "little finger" of a woman... regardless
of one's situation.  It is possible that the citation re "conversation"
refers to "socializing" (which *is* frowned upon even to the extent of a
man asking another man about the second man's wife) -- but may not apply
to "needed conversation" i.e., professional interaction -- assuming all
other halachot are kept.

Perhaps, the women in Yemen did not demand "freedom" because they were
at least as well off as the Arab women...  This, in no way, reflects
upon the actual benefit/cost of such freedom.  The Arab society over
there does not appear to be something that most of us want to

Shaul appears to display intolerance in dealing with his translation of
"Ish V'Ishto"... There is no reason why one cannot translate it as "Man
and his Woman" or as "Husband and his Wife" -- in fact, Shaul admits
that "Husband and his Wife" would be a better choice... To use a
translation that offends one -- AND IS NOT EVEN THE MOST ACCURATE -- on
the grounds of fighting "alien ideologies" -- appears to display a
certain degree of insensitivity that is not needed here.  Whether
ORthodox women of 30 years ago would have reacted that way is not the
point...  Obviously, the other writer felt offended by the translation
as used -- presumably because of an implied slight toward the woman --
that does not [IMHO] justify this sort of response.  Whatever happened
to "D'racheha Darchei noam"?  There MAY be an alien influence here.
There may be serious stuff to clear up... That does not mean that one
has to be "nasty" about it.  I, for one, do not understand why
"Husband/Wife" should not be used when referring to marriage.  It is
accurate; it is inoffensive; it [usually] keeps us from getting hung up
on semantics -- which tend to deflect the main issue.

I think that Shaul dismisses too easily the notion that freedom allows one
to terminate bad matches.  It is true that freedom also allows one to end
a "good" marriage too quickly -- instead of working on the necessary tikun.
BUT we do know that in Europe, there were cases of husbands deserting their
wives (read some of the anecdotes in Sippurei Chassidim) and it was NOT
totally idyllic even then.  When we discuss this sort of a matter, there is
a big temptation to idealize the "good old days"...  We should be careful
about that as such "mythmaking" does nothing to help us.

Personally, I think that there is a combination here... In some cases,
there WERE bad matches -- because they were made for the wrong reasons
(cf. the Shulchan Aruch about determining a proper match ...)... In some
cases, Shaul is correct that people just did not feel like working it
out..  What disturbs me is that neither side here seems willing to
"give" a bit... It is not always so "black and white"!

I can clearly see why people would take offense at the suggestion that
womens' freedom... is a threat to marriage.  I would agree.  The issue
is NOT the freedom.  It is how we HANDLE it.  Shaul claims that he finds
this statement disturbing because he sees here an alien culture that is
at total variance with Torah.  I would suggest that the issue is that we
have not applied the eternal truths of Torah as Society has changed
around us.  Rather than castigate "foreign influences", apply Torah to
what is happening around us.

Shaul has problems with therms like "freedom" and "equality"... I think
that it is more accurate to discuss HOW the Torah deals with "freedom"
and "equality" rather than simply treating them as "foreign"

BTW, if anyone has a copy of "Concepts of Judaism" -- which has
[translated] essays of Isaac Breuer ZT"L , there is an EXCELLENT essay
about the "difference" between the "axioms" of a Torah-based society and
that of a non-Torah based society.  He was writing in response to a "Get
Case" in Germany (in the 20's -- I think).  I believe that his ideas are
VERY relevant here.



From: Ilene  M. Miller <75107.146@...>
Date: 26 Sep 94 15:53:38 EDT
Subject: Translating Ish V'isha

In Volume 14, #90, Shaul Wallach was criticized for using the phrase "man and
wife". In vol 15, #14, he defended himself in these words:

>     In this particular instance, "husband and wife" would have been
>a better choice of words for the usage intended. But I will use "man
>and wife" as a translation of "ish we-isha" (like R. Kitov's "Ish
>U-Veito"), not "woman and husband", in a "general sense to refer to
>marriage" when this is appropriate, and I will make no concessions to
>modern ideologies. I believe that no Orthodox Jewish woman would have
>reacted in the above manner 30 years ago, and that the comment reflects
>a foreign influence that must be recognized and dealt with openly.

If I understand him correctly, he agrees that in this particular
instance, "husband and wife" would have been a better choice, but that
in general, "ish v'isha" should be translated *not* as "husband and
wife" but rather as "man and wife".  I vigorously disagree.

As a demonstration of translation techniques, I would like to begin with
a line which is on one of the posters in my sukkah: "Mi shelo raah
Simchas Beis Hashoeva lo raah simcha miyamav." As I read this line on
the first days of Yom Tov, the translation was quite plain: "One who has
not seen a Simchas Beis Hashoeva has not (ever) seen simcha in (all) his
days." Now, that is certainly a literal translation, and quite
appropriate where the goal is to help someone who knows just enough
Hebrew to try and match the words together in order to learn more. (Like
in a linear translation for example)

But sometime that is not the goal of the translation. Sometimes the goal
is to remain totally faithful to every word of the text, but also to
capture the emotions and nuances of the culture. Now, the translation I
gave above is quite literal, and not difficult to understand, but it
does not have the flavor of the original. The sentence structure found
here, of "one who has (or has not) (done whatever) therefore has (or has
not) (done this other thing)" is quite common in rabbinic Hebrew. (Maybe
in current Israel as well.) But it is not found in English.

English does have a different phrase which accomplishes that same poetry
as intended by the Hebrew. And so I offer an alternate translation which
carries a rhetoric similar to the original: "If you've never seen a
Simchas Beis Hashoeva, then you've never seen simcha." I submit this not
as a interpretive translation, but as a *literal* one, only that it is a
literal translation of the whole sentence, and admittedly not of the
individual words.

My point is that when translating you've got to catch the context as
well at the words. "Ish v'isha" is a construction which deliberately
uses the masculine and feminine forms of the same word, in a parallel
pairing. Now I will admit that there is no common Hebrew word for wife
other than "isha" which actually means "woman". (My own wife suggested
"raayato", but I think that is a poetic and flowery word not often used
in learning or in conversation.) There is a word commonly used as
"husband", however, that being "baal".

Now, I think we'd all agree that the phrase "baal v'ishto" (using the
possesive ishto) would go as "husband and (his) wife". But that is not
the phrase Mr.  Wallach is referring to. "Ish v'isha" uses no possesive
forms, and avoids all of the various words which refer to the
marriage. In the most basic literal translation of the individual words
there is no way to translate "ish v'isha" other than as "man and
woman". If one wishes to include the flavor and nuance of the language,
as explained above, then I would suggest "husband and wife", to
demonstrate the marriage relationship.

Everything I have written is, IMHO, strictly on the basis of the meaning
of the words in their basic meaning and their context. It has absolutely
nothing to do with any "foreign influence". I agree that "no Orthodox
Jewish woman would have reacted in the above manner 30 years ago", but
that is neither to the credit of that generation nor to ours. Thirty
years ago, the English phrase "man and wife" was not perceived of as
sexist and *may* have been an acceptable translation - at least for the
vocal male establishment! Our generation has grown sensitive to certain
issues, and where the Torah supports a certain viewpoint, we must not
complain that it was foreign influences which sensitized us to them.

I would love to continue the above train of thought, but it will have to
wait for another article. My point here is that "ish v'isha" should not
be translated as "man and wife", but as either "man and woman" or
"husband and wife".


End of Volume 15 Issue 44