The Real Story Behind Rabbi Yuval and Noa Yaron Dayan’s Divorce (1-Minute Video)

The Real Story Behind Rabbi Yuval and Noa Yaron Dayan’s Divorce (1-Minute Video)

This past May, when my daughter and I visited Uman, we were surprised to discover that Noa Yaron Dayan was there as well, leading a group. Noa was a secular TV celebrity until she and her husband, Rabbi Yuval Dayan, became religious, and ended up inspiring and uplifting the lives of thousands of Israelis over the past two decades.
So, of course, I wanted to approach Noa and tell her how much I loved her books about the lives of baalei teshuva, and how awesome I think she is for always being so real, telling it like it is. But by the time I summoned up the nerve to approach her, I realized she and her group had gone.
And then, a few weeks later, I and all of Israel, heard the terrible news. Noa’s husband, Rabbi Yuval Dayan, was no longer religious, and he and Noa, the parents of 7 children, had gotten divorced.
What a tragedy!
What happened?
And now, since last month, hundreds of thousands of Israelis (including me) have been checking in each week to watch the show Yes Man, in which Yuval and Noa present the personal story behind the divorce that rocked Israel.
Yes Man is a reality show documenting what happens when the show’s participants agree to face their deepest fears. In their case, Noa and Yuval agree to publicly discuss their divorce in front of a live audience made up of their fans and students.
After watching this heartbreaking excerpt from that event, I want nothing more than to send the gorgeous, awe-inspiring, grieving Noa Yaron Dayan a huge, world-wide JewishMOM hug.

21 comments

  1. i think couples who expose themselves too much and who are always outside their homes are in great danger. instead of going to uman women should take care of their shlom bayit and of their husbands and kids. i never liked yuval dayan hes an opportunist and needs a good therapist and help from above if he wants to receive it

  2. Wow, Hashem should bless this woman and her kids. We need the Geula.

  3. Very powerful, thanks for sending. Are all her books in Hebrew only?

  4. Ahh, I’d love to see this and read her work, but as I saw, it’s not in English. Can you link to the TV show? Thanks!

    • the show is only in Hebrew, it’s about a bunch of different people, not just them. you can find it on youtube if you search for יס מן (yes man). I’m reluctant to put a direct link, since not all the stories are jewishmom.com-appropriate material

  5. I only got 50 seconds, is that all there is?

    • there’s a lot more, but all in hebrew (but with Hebrew subtitles, so it’s a bit easier). go to youtube and search for יס מן (yes man). there are 5 episodes so far there

  6. the horban is that they speak in public about their most intimate liife. its very commercial they certainly need money and the public is greedy for such stories. Poor 7 kids

  7. Happy to hear that I am not the only one intrigued by this story. It is very painful to see but I actually think it is important for Balei Teshuva to learn from their mistakes. Jenny you have always encouraged a date night… and I being goal oriented thought it wasn’t so crucial. Your words are only ringing clearer now. How much we need to work on building our marriage, and spiritual growth, and connection with mentors. Thank you for continuing your holy work!

  8. Going through a divorce is hard. and nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Yes you may need therapy and or a Rav but people will still not get the whys? Children whole other issue. As she says no schehina no shalom bayis even children get that feeling

  9. Dear Chana, Can you at least give us a summary in English of what caused this terrible divorce? Why did Yuval give up Torah observance? Couldn’t they have stayed married in any case? Please write an article summarizing what they said in your own words.

    With appreciation for all your great work,
    Sara Yoheved Rigler

    • Yuval says that he stopped being religious because his questions were bigger than his answers. That he was living in a constant state of self-criticism, never at peace, never feeling good enough. As a fellow rabbi nivin student, you will know what I mean when I say that he was living in a way that was extremely unauthentic. He went from being extremely secular to being extremely religious, and competely rejected everything about his old life.
      And this extreme, unauthentic transformation caused him (as Rabbi nivin always says) to become depressed and miserable. And, eventually, to simply crashing and leaving everything behind–the religion and his wife.
      Though I don’t think that the divorce was necessarily just because he stopped being religious. Most or maybe all of their children (it appears) look religious anymore. I think that Noa would have stuck with her husband (as she’s remained extremely devoted to her children) even if he wasn’t religious.

      Yuval says that what destroyed his marriage was that he and Noa cared so much about their mission of spreading Rebbe Nachman’s torah etc, and they would spend hours and hours working together on their projects. But they (he claims, and noa didn’t disagree) didn’t invest at all in זוגיות, in their life as a couple, romance, time having fun together. In short, they needed Kesher Wife!!!

      • Wow thank you so much for adding these details. It is such an important lesson, to be authentic, to not leave your “lower soul” behind when you get so into the spiritual. I feel there is a real need to talk about this more and I’m so grateful Rabbi Nivin does. Everyone should do his habura 🙂

      • Thank you for the explanation–and the reminder to be authentic. Such an important point! And continually working on one’s marriage is an equally important lesson. The main motto of our Kesher Wife webinar [https://sararigler.com/workshops/the-kesher-wife-webinar/] is: “My marriage is the most important thing in my life.”

  10. Sorry to hear – what happened? I guess all that glitters is certainly not gold. What do we know.? Curious if us English illiterate Hebrew wannabes can learn from this incident. Anything more to say? A matter of one opped out for a secular lifestyle? Surely there must b more to this story. Care to enlighten? Not Gd Forbid for gossiping sake but something we all can learn from? Thanks,🤔

  11. Chana Jenny –

    It’s the first time I’ve been on your blog and I’m sorry it’s due to this sad story. There is a lot that even an outside person can pick up from their public stories, but I only want to comment on one little piece. For whatever reasons (I’m sure there were more than one), this couple had a very hard time truly feeling a part of the chareidi world, and as they had decided for themselves that that was the “ultimate”, I imagine that this perceived rejection was profoundly painful.

    I think all of us know that when it comes to kids or others, the need to belong is so fundamental that when we can’t fulfill it, it’s a wound that it opens us up to all kinds of evil.

    We all have free will and we all suffer from rejections, here and there, so I feel it’s crucial to our spiritual health to stay aware of how we process these rejections. And even more so, and why I am writing today, to stay aware of those people in our communities who may be feeling “left out” and reach out to them, because the biggest tikkun is connection. It’s very hard to feel at peace when we don’t feel we fit in.

    No way to know, but I assume that the difference between them in how they related to their situation, was a significant feature in this story.

    I myself am a long-time BT and have suffered various “rejections” at points and am grateful that although I am, by nature, “a joiner”, I got really clear at a certain point that my Yiddishkeit was solely and essentially based on my relationship with HK”B.

    So although I am happy (B”AH) within the community (communities) I belong to, I know that my religiosity has has to transcend the other stuff. I used to joke that even if I wouldn’t be frum (klapei the community, externally), I would still be frum (internally), so I might as well stay where I am!

  12. I think this article of Noa’s is a good entre to her mindset and my comment above: https://iyun.org.il/en/article/a-faithful-mirror-the-condition-of-charedi-literature/the-voice-of-a-complex-truth/

    Whether or not you agree with her analysis, you see where the thought process is at.

    May H’ reveal to all of us how best to proceed in life!

  13. Tamar Shtrambrand

    I am on vacation with my family in Florida right now and have some downtime at the moment. It’s a rare moment of not needing to hustle, takr care of a million different tasks, and feel like my brain is going to burst from all the over-stimulation. It’s a perfect moment for me to share some of my insights and thoughts on this post.

    I am a baalat teshuva of about fourteen years. My husband is 43 and has been a BT since he was a teenager. Both of our stories are interestng as our family backgrounds are extremely diverse. If anyone wants to learn more, you can email me. The work of choosing t be religious is a daily job. You have to choose it again each and every day. You have to work on wanting it every second of your life. You have to put effort into being what you internalize as the lifestyle you’ve embraced and why you’ve embraced it, every single day, every millisecond, every waking moment.

    Something you said Jenny rang true with me: it’s that Yuval rejected his old life while embracing the new religious one, and that it was too much for him and not authentic. I understand this. I have struggled with it to help shape the identity I now embrace as an Orthodox Jewish. It’s the identity I proudly proclaim to the world each day, even though it’sm not something I proclaim out loud from my mouth but rather from my dress, my demeanor, my speech, and my value system that shapes what choices I make in my actions, large and small. It is impossible to reject your past, as G-d gave you everything about yourself that is true from day one of your entrance into this world. To attempt to shed that truth about where you came from, who you were, and how it influenced you to become who you are today is not only inauthentic, it is cruel and vindictive. As Rabbi YY Jacobson once said, Judaism is meant to be expressed in infinitely different ways and should be expressed differently by each of us as we are all unique lights in this world. Our pasts are nothing to be ashamed of, as they helped give birth to who we are now. We should be proud of our pasts, as Judaism is not a religion which shames people for being human and sinning. Judaism teaches us that our past mistakes actually become mitzvot for bringing us to a higher level of consciousness and make us vessels for bringing more good into the world if they led us to become religious.

    My heart aches for Yuval, his wife, and their children. I wish more people would learn from Yuval’ story in particular. No one should let their past make them feel ashamed. We seem to be so concerned about fitting in to cultural/societal norms and expectations within our communities in the religious world, that we forget who we are, where we came from, and what our job is here. We are here to inspire, uplift, and build others up and we can’t do that if we don’t allow ourselves to embrace the authentic self of who we are and where we came from. It’s part of the growth process as a human and as a Jew. May we all be zoche to be proud of our authenticity, embrace it rather than shun it, grow from it, and become the healthiest, happiest versions of us that we can be.

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