Isn’t it obvious that dating/spousal abuse is bad?
After all, the Torah says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) Shouldn’t you love your significant other even more than your neighbor?
In his insightful book, Jewish Wisdom, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin outlines Judaism’s prescriptions for healthy relationships. He retells the Talmudic story (Sanhedrin 75a) of a man so obsessed with a woman that he will perish unless she submits to him. Doctors recommend that the man must be allowed to have a relationship with the woman. The rabbis repeatedly refuse to allow the contact, saying, “Let him die rather than that she talk to him [even] from behind a fence.”
Telushkin quotes Hyam Maccoby who wrote: “What the story is really telling us is that no woman is required to sacrifice her status or dignity for the sake of a madman.”
Okay, so a stranger need not submit to abuse under any circumstances. But what about those involved in more intimate relationships?
The Jewish sages were all too familiar with relationships that were abusive and urged the Jewish people to take even greater care of their partners. For this reason they felt a need to repeat the adage from Leviticus above and to add to it: the Talmud says, “A man should love his wife as himself and honor her more than himself.” (Yevamot 62b)
Read first-hand accounts of abuse in Jewish relationships in "Jews Who Abuse: Dating Violence on Campus"
Get more information:
Jewish Women International
Jewish Family & Children's Services