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 Izchak Zion ben Leah
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How Soon May a Widow or Divorcee Begin Dating?

The Shulhan Aruch, in the Eben Ha’ezer section (13), codifies the prohibition for a woman to get remarried within ninety-two days of her divorce or the death of her husband, Heaven forbid. The Sages enacted this prohibition so that we will be able to definitively determine the father of a child born after her remarriage. After ninety-two days have passed, we will know whether or not she had conceived from the first husband before the death or divorce. If she marries within ninety-two days, and she gives birth in the seventh month after her remarriage, the child could be the result of either a nine-month pregnancy from the first husband, or a seven-month pregnancy from the second husband. The Sages therefore required a widow or divorcee to wait three months after the death or divorce before remarrying.

This Halacha applies even to Kiddushin (betrothal); a woman may not even accept Kiddushin before ninety-two have passed since the divorce or first husband’s death. Even though the marriage is not completed with Kiddushin, and cohabitation does not take place until after the wedding, the Sages nevertheless forbade even this first stage of the marriage process until the passage of ninety-two days. The woman may, however, date and conduct a courtship within the ninety-two days, provided that it is made clear to both her and the suitor that they cannot marry until after ninety-two days. As long as this is understood from the outset, it is entirely permissible for a woman to begin dating after divorce or her husband’s death, even within ninety-two days.

Summary: Although a woman may not remarry within ninety-two days of divorce or being widowed, she may date during that period, provided that she and the suitor understand from the outset that they may not marry until after the ninety-two-day period.

 


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