Daf Yomi Yevamos 78
Jessica and Justin wanted to initiate divorce proceedings.
“We just don’t love each other like we used to,” they told me.
“But what about your kids?” I inquired.
“They’ll be fine. We’re going to do this very amicably. We wouldn’t want them to suffer.”
I thought to myself, ‘Sadly, I’ve heard that one before. . .’
The Book of Samuel states, “And there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year.”
The first year King David announced to the nation, “Perhaps there are idol-worshippers amongst you?” They searched but found none.
The second year, David said, “Perhaps there are lewd people amongst you?” They searched but found none.
The third year, David said, “Perhaps there are those who publicly pledge charity but do not fulfill their word?” They searched but found none.
David said, “The matter is dependent upon me.” He immediately went and sought Divine counsel.
“And G-d said: This is due to Saul and the house of blood for he killed the Gibeonites.”
The Gemara asks: Where do we find in Scripture that Saul killed the Gibeonites?
The Gemara answers: Saul killed Nob, the city of priests, and the Gibeonites had been providing them with food and water. Now they remained without means of support. Therefore, Scripture considers it as if he had killed them too.
Collateral damage is real. Saul didn’t actually kill the Gibeonites, and yet the Scripture considers it as if he had killed them, because he removed their source of parnassah (livelihood). The sin was so great, that it brought famine to the entire land!
Whenever you commit to a course of action, you need to ask yourself, firstly ‘Is this the right thing?’ and secondly ‘What might be the consequences of my actions?’ No doubt the Gibeonites didn’t even enter Saul’s mind when he decreed the destruction of the priests of Nob. And yet, he was held responsible.
No matter how you cut it, it is near impossible for children of divorce not to suffer as collateral damage. Parents begin – often even unwittingly and unconsciously – to strive to outdo the other parent. It’s hard enough to work as a parenting team when you’re together, let alone apart!
Unless your spouse has committed some terrible, unforgivable sin against you, by divorcing you are failing to put these precious children first. And when you brought them into the world, you promised to put them first. You chose to marry this person – you owe it to your children to be on your very best behaviour at least until they are adults at which point you can make whatever choice you want with your life. Then, they won’t be collateral damage. But now, unless they are currently living in a toxic environment that divorce might spare them from, they will needlessly suffer by breaking up the home.
Always consider your actions. And always imagine what the butterfly effect consequences of your actions might be. May you merit always making the right decision to have the happiest outcome for all those in your innermost circle and outermost circles!