The Mishna on Amud Beis states:

We do not marry a woman on the intermediate days of a Festival, not virgins and not widows, and we do not perform levirate marriage with a sister-in-law, if his brother died childless, because it is a joyous occasion for him (and we do not mix rejoicings, that is Yom Tom and Marriage; each one needs its distinct experience.) However, one may remarry his divorced wife on the intermediate days of a Festival, as this is not as great a joy for him.

Hon Ashir on the Mishna makes the following observation and comment:

The first part of the Mishna referring to regular marriage on Chol Hamoed is stated in the plural, while the last part referring to remarrying a wife from whom he was divorced, is stated in singular tense. This is because one in a thousand would remarry their ex-wife.

Aside from it being a brilliant linguistic deduction from the text of the Mishna, I began to think about the psychological and social dynamics of this kind of marriage. The main questions are  how often do they actually occur and how stable are they? On the one hand, if they didn’t get along the first time, what should be different for round two? On the other hand, this choice is such a specific and conscious one, perhaps it is the product of two mature individuals who have learned so much about life and each other that they would swallow pride, buck the trend and remarry. It is kind of romantic, no?

Nancy Kalish, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at California State University did research on reunited couples in 1993.  Her study was of 1,001 people across 50 states and 42 countries, ages 18 to 89. She wrote a book based on this study, “Lost & Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances” (William Morrow Inc., 1997).

Of the one thousand couples in the survey, only 6 percent of the participants said they married, divorced and got back with the same person. The others were old flames and other romantic attachments. Dr. Kalish’s data showed that those who married their ex-spouse fared better than typical marriages. It seems that the intimate knowledge and acceptance of the other leads to a stable union.

It is important to keep in mind that this group is self-selecting. Meaning to say, people who choose to remarry their ex spouses do so because of a certain type of psychological and emotional framework. The ones that actually overcome their own internal fears, the discouragement of their friends and family, and willfully choose to marry each other again have kind of gone through a trial by fire. It is therefore not so surprising that these relationships would be enduring. Against all odds, against all convention, they chose each other. However, one must be careful not to make the famous “tall boys and long pants” syllogistic error. That is, if all tall boys wear long pants, and you want your boy to become tall, you should have him wear long pants. Obviously it won’t work. Here too, do not make your decision to remarry an ex spouse because of Kalish׳s study. But if you are actually at the stage where you’re considering remarrying  your ex spouse, at least the study shows that you have a shot at it and you’re not crazy.

One final point, perhaps we don’t need to go through all the rigamarole of divorcing and then realizing that it is better to practice acceptance and wisdom and then remarry to find a stable marriage.  If we are able to reach that wisdom while still married, all the better.




Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation cool.)