Shabbat Parashat Toldot| 5766
Wife Who Moved to Israel Without Husband and Refuses a Get (condensed from Piskei Din Rabbaniim- vol. VIII, pp. 97-103)
Case: A wife left home in South America and moved to
The halacha is that either spouse can initiate a move to Eretz Yisrael (=EY) against the will of the other (Even Ha’ezer 75). The question is whether one can place sanctions on the side that refuses to move and whether those sanctions include preventing the other side from remarrying.
The gemara (Ketubot 110) states, in proximity to the laws of one spouse forcing the other to move to EY, that a slave can do the same to his master. It is clear that the master is not “enslaved” to his slave. Indeed, the Rambam (Avadim 8:9) writes that the master can choose between moving to EY and selling the slave to someone who is. The proximity [as well as other sources] may indicate that in regard to spouses, as well, neither side can force the other to move to EY but rather each has the freedom to do so without being deemed abandoning his or her spouse.
The Mabit (who lived in EY), discussing a husband who wanted to go to EY against his wife’s will, says that he can force her to go. However, his rationale is that since it is a mitzva to move to EY, beit din can force anyone who lacks a legitimate excuse to fulfill the mitzva. The main reason, he says, that we don’t force people to move to EY is that they may be concerned about finding a livelihood. If the man is confident he can do so, his wife must follow. Others argue and say that we cannot force anyone to go. Rather, the one who does not agree to go is at a disadvantage in regard to the divorce settlement, should they not work the matter out. This is not to force or punish but to make it as feasible as possible for one to move.
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