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MODERATOR Posted - 04 September 2002 16:04

Here's a clarification to the above clarifications:

Simply put, "tenaim" is an agreement that you two will get married. If you break up after that without getting married, you break your promise, and that is a problem.

However, when a couple is married we hope they will stay married but there is no promise that a divorce will never happen. Therefore if a couple gets divorced, it is painful, but nobody broke a promise.

Everyone makes tenaim - it’s a minhag yisroel. However, many people, in particular non-Chasidim, make it right before the chupah, at the kabbolas ponim (when the mothers break the plate). They do this so that there is like no chance of a breakup before the wedding.

If an engaged couple wants to break up (where they did not make tenaim), it is also painful, but again, no broken promises, because even though engaged couples hope to get married, there is no formal promise.

But Chasidim usually make tenaim at the "vort" (which means "word", as in "giving your word"), so that now they have promised to get married.

After that, if someone wants to break up, they would be breaking their promise to the other party. So the better option is to get married and then immediately divorced. That way, nobody violates a promise.

It’s a pretty good lesson in how important honesty is, and commitment to one's word.

Rabbeinu Yonah says that keeping your word is form the "basic [requirements] of the soul". Meaning, even in a case where the halachah allows you to break your word, it is still bad to do so, since the rightness of keeping your word is not just because of halachah but because it is part of what your soul needs.

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