Four years ago, Perry Netter feared his divorce from his wife, Esther, would end his career as a rabbi. Sitting in his office at Conservative Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, he said he knew that people want their rabbi married. Congregants like to gaze upon the rabbi's family as the ideal Jewish family.
Perry Netter's wonderful title comes from the preeminent biblical commentator, Rashi, who in the 11th century said of the biblical command to write out a bill of divorcement: "Divorce is a mitzvah." A divorce is not to be pursued, Netter comments on the commentator, but should a separation between husband and wife be warranted, obligations are imposed upon the spouses that contain all the weight of God's commanding voice.