When a couple divorces, "even the altar cries tears because of it [Gittin
90b]." Divorce is trauma and makes those concerned cry. There once was a bond
and any normal person is torn when his/her marriage bond is torn. But why
does the gemora add that "EVEN THE ALTAR CRIES TEARS BECAUSE OF [DIVORCE]?"
The altar was used for sacrifices in the Holy Temple, where dumb animals
were brought as gifts for Hashem or for atonement of sins. A divorce is using
the altar for the SACRIFICING OF THE CHILDREN. WHEN YOU USE IT FOR THE
SLAUGHTER OF YOUR INNOCENT CHILDREN, YOU MAKE G-D'S ALTAR CRY!
I know a divorced woman who had a bitter marriage and divorce. However,
her children emerged psychologically in-tact because she diligently shielded
them WITH SELF-SACRIFICE from the viciousness of the break-up. They were
still fairly young at the time. She basically explained, in a way that the
children could understand and assimilate, that she and tatti were not able to
be happy together. All of the fighting, bickering and anger were kept away
from the children (e.g. in bais din, on private after hour phone calls and by
venting frustrations in counseling). She did all she could to assure that the
children saw normal life, except that tatti moved and they saw him twice a
week at his new location. She received less of a financial settlement than
she might have with a desperate "tooth and nail" battle. However, having
myself seen those kids grow up to be normal, over the last 16 years since the
split-up, I have to state that her unselfish and wise self-sacrifice
constitutes greater good in the long-run than what she lost 16 years ago. To
her, "human wreckage" was not worth monetary advantage; "human good" was
worth more than "monetary good."
I see troubled and terminal marriages in my marriage counseling work. I
receive shailos as a rabbi. I co-consult with dayanim. I see the cases
described on the Agunah Page. I hear what is going around. It is vicious out
there. Either party can escalate or be a cause of their own troubles or
disadvantage in their situation, with no one to blame but him or her self. A
recurring and destructive part of the steadily worsening divorce scene is the
harm done to the children. The parents think nothing of using the children
for spite, punishment or maliscious brainwashing; or as a pawn in court cases.
I've written about how the Torah prohibits harming any other Jew and
requires guarding against causing any harm that one may be capable of
inflicting. This applies to all forms of harm: bodily, psychological, hurt to
feelings or reputation, intangibles such as wasting someone's time or
CHILDREN NOT STEADILY SEEING THEIR FATHER because their mother wants a more
ZOFTIG [fat] financial settlement or more control over divorce arrangements.
Any form of harm IS NOT AN OPTION (I am not talking about a VERY OCCASIONAL
violent or unstable parent from whom a child JUSTIFIABLY must be protected).
My conclusion in the question of harm done to children, when parents break-up
their marriage, is that it is a Torah duty to do all that is necessary, no
matter what the sacrifice or cost, to guard and save the children from any
and all harm.
This is not a matter of which of the parents is right or wrong. It is a
matter of: IF YOU HARM A CHILD, YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY WRONG! You might be
right in other aspects of the case. But once you harm, deprive or diminish a
child - even psychologically or morally - you switch from being right to
being wrong. You are a mazik (damager), and, in Torah law, one who damages is
automatically and entirely wrong and accountable. It is entirely possible for
there to be two people who are wrong in a break-up which damages that