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A Tale of Two Wives

The “Loved” and “Unloved” Spouse in the World of the Vilna Gaon, Reb Chaim Volozhiner, Reb Shlomo Kluger & the Alter Rebbe

1 hr 55 min

From left to right: A portrait of the Vilna Gaon (1720-1797), and an unknown photo of the Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehudah Berlin (1816-1893).

Class Summary:

"If a man will have two wives, one beloved and one unloved, and both the loved and unloved wives have sons, and the firstborn son is that of the hated one; on the day that this man wills his property to his sons, he cannot give the son of the beloved wife birthright preference above the son of the hated wife, the firstborn. Rather, he must recognize the firstborn, the son of the hated one, to give him the double portion in all his property."

These verses are perplexing and enigmatic on many levels. The most disturbing question: Why present such an unfortunate scenario to tell us a simple law? The class explores a fascinating story and commentary by the Vilna Gaon, denied emphatically by the Netziv. We explore an identical verdict by Reb Chaim of Volozhin and the objections of Reb Shlomo Kluger. We discover the brilliant defense of the Klei Chemdah, and at last, the psychological interpretation of this mitzvah in the writings of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schnuer Zalman of Liadi, exploring the romantic vs. the struggling soul.


This class was presented Sunday, 8 Elul 5776, 9-11-16, at Ohr Chaim, Monsey, NY.

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