A marriage that has ended is like the first set of tablets and the covenant they represented. They were given in love, but then they shattered. Still, Torah teaches that we carried them thereafter in the ark along with the second set of tablets which remained whole. As the two of you move into a new chapter of your lives, you carry with you hopes for new wholeness — and you also carry the broken pieces of your marriage, which are also holy.
At your wedding you vowed to betroth yourselves to each other in righteousness, in lovingkindness, and in compassion. May those same qualities be present as you disentangle your lives and separate from one another.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Scroll down to find resources for this lifecycle moment.
Dear God, I have loved and but love alone does not always sustain a relationship. I realize this relationship does not serve us well. Please give me the courage and strength to end this relationship gracefully. Help me to forgive, heal and move on with my life so that I may open the door to new happiness. Amen.
(with acknowledgment to Rev. Victor Fuhrman)
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who separates between the holy and the profane; between the light and dark. Blessed are You, God, who separates between the holy and the profane.
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
by Jack Gilbert (d)
Yah, you are my light, my savior,
Whom need I dread?
Yah, with You as my strong protector
Who can make me panic?
When hateful bullies gang up on me,
Wanting to harass me,
To oppress and terrorize me,
They are the ones who stumble and fall.
Even if a gang surrounds me
My heart is not weakened.
If a battle is joined around me
My trust in You is firm.
Only one thing do I ask of You, Yah,
Just this alone do I seek:
I want to be at home with You, Yah,
All the days of my life.
I want to delight in seeing You,
When I come to visit You
in Your Temple.
You hide me in Your Succah
On a foul day.
You conceal me unseen in Your tent
And also raise me beyond anyone’s reach.
And now, as You have held my head high,
Despite the presence
of my powerful foes,
I prepare to celebrate and thrill,
Singing and making music
to You, Yah!
Listen, Yah, to the sound of my cry
And, being kind, answer me.
My heart has said:
I turn to You,
Your Presence is what I beg for.
Don’t hide Yuor Face from me.
Don’t just put me down,
You, who have been my helper
Don’t abandon me, don’t forsake me,
God, my support.
Though father and mother have left me
You, Yah, will hold me securely.
Please teach me Your way
And guide me on the straight path.
Discourage those who defame me,
Don’t let me become
the victim of my foes.
False witnesses stood up against me,
Belching out violence.
[I would not have survived]
If I had not hoped that I would yet see
Yah’s goodness fully alive on Earth.
So, friend, you too, hope to Yah.
And make strong your heart!
And most of all — keep hoping to Yah.
Interpretive translation by R. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (d)
Ritual for Ending a Marriage, Velveteen Rabbi