Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What was this man's sin?

One of the frum neighborhoods is buzzing about a man recently stricken with a serious cancer. He lives in Arizona, with his second wife, where he moved after his divorce. The first wife and his five kids are back home in the frum neighborhood. Its a matter of common knowledge, that this man cheated on his first wife with the (non Jewish) woman who became his second wife. The divorce was halachic, and the get was given with no argument or difficulties.

After the man became ill, some friends from the frum neighborhood traveled to Arizona to visit him in the hospital. They came back saying the man had declared that his cancer was a divine punishment for his sins, specifically they sins he committed against his wife.

No doubt, the man was speaking emotionally, and its clear he behaved like a cad, but (presuming the story I've summarized above is the whole story) what was his sin? From the perspective of the Jewish religion, he didn't commit adultery, and his marriage to the non-Jew is meaningless per Jewish law. The only thing he may have done wrong in the eyes of the Torah is sleep with a woman who was neither Jewish nor married, but I'm not sure that such behavior is even forbidden. (Is it?) Certainly, its not a capital offence, so the idea that the cancer is a divine retribution seems fanciful.

I understand that the man is contrite about offending the values of his community and culture, and perhaps this is what he meant, but did he offend Torah values, too?
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