My Husband or Israel?
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
On your comment to my previous post, you write that you want to live in Israel, but that your husband does not, and you ask what should you do?
Please understand that this blog is not an “Ask The Rabbi” column. First of all, I am not a rabbi. Secondly, personal and halachic matters like your question, which deal with Jewish Law, cannot be adequately answered over the Internet. I suggest you seek the advice of an Orthodox rabbi in Chicago who understands the centrality of the Land of Israel to Judaism.
There is no question that moving to Israel is the biggest and toughest commandment, demanding a total life overhaul requiring great Emunah.
If this is not possible, you should try to contact a rabbi in Israel. Having said this, and with the understanding that I am not presuming to give you an authorized rabbinic ruling on your question, I will venture a few words of guideline.
Jewish Law states that if a wife wants to make Aliyah to live in the Land of Israel, and the husband does not, then the Jewish Court can force the husband to grant her a divorce and he must also pay her the full sum of the Ketubah marriage contract (Rambam, Laws of Marriage, 13:19; Shulch Aruch, Even HaEzer, 75::3). We can see from this ruling the supreme importance the Torah gives to Eretz Yisrael, placing the commandment to live in Israel on an even higher sanctity than marriage.
Nevertheless, divorce is not a simple matter. Our Sages tell us that the altar of the Temple sheds tears when a Jewish marriage is annulled. Therefore, you should do everything you can to preserve your marriage and also come on Aliyah with your husband. This may take a lot of love and patience, and a lot of education. It may be that he simply never learned about the vital connection between Judaism and the Land of Israel.
Because of our almost 2000 year exile among the nations of the world, we stopped learning about Israel. Even in yeshivas devoted to Torah study, the centrality of the Holy Land to the full Torah life of the Holy Nation was ignored, and we became reconciled to a shrunken Torah lacking the plethora of commandments that can only be performed in the Land of Israel.
We became reconciled with being scattered Jewish communities around the world, minorities in other people’s countries, instead of a being a united holy nation in our own Land, the cornerstone of the Torah. So it may be that your husband may change his mind after studying the Torah of Eretz Yisrael. (The IsraelNationalNews Judaism-section archives is a good place to start.)
Also, come on a trip to Israel together. Meet with Americans who have made Aliyah. Speak with rabbis. Have your husband listen to some classes at a Zionist yeshiva that has an English-speaking program, like Machon Meir in Jerusalem. If after learning about Israel, he still doesn’t want to come, it may be because other factors are pulling him away.
If a wife wants to make Aliyah and the husband does not, a Jewish Court can force the husband to grant her a divorce and pay her the full sum of the Ketubah.
There is no question that moving to Israel is the biggest and toughest commandment, demanding a total life overhaul requiring great Emunah (faith). It is not a simple matter to leave one’s birthplace, extended family, language, culture, job, etc and start all over again in a new place. He may simply be afraid, and this is perfectly understandable. But ever since our forefather, Avraham, left his birthplace and family and moved to the Land of Israel, the potential is in our genes.
In short, do everything you can to save your marriage, and give your husband a chance to understand why you feel the way you do about living in Israel. If all of your efforts fail, and he still refuses to budge in his stance, then ask a real rabbi and not a mere blog writer like me.
For articles related to the holiness of the Land of Israel and also the holiness of a marriage relationship, see my site: JewishSexuality.com