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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ki Tetze

Parashat Ki Tetze

Everyone may force to go up to the land of Israel...

Dedicated to the memory of
Asher Ben Chaim
Many of the mitzvot appearing in Parashat Ki Tetze deal with relationships between men and women, several dealing specifically with marriage. According to the beginning of the Talmudic Tractate Kiddushin, the first verse of Chapter 24 : ki yikah ish isha, "when a man takes a wife", serves as the textual basis for the contracting of marriages. The Sages throughout the generations have elaborated upon many aspects of the relationship between husband and wife.

One striking source concerning this relationship is a rather cryptic statement in the very last Mishnah of Tractate Ketubot>Hakol ma'alin l'Eretz Yisra'el, "Everyone may force to go up to the land of Israel..." According to the Babylonian Talmud (ibid., p. 110b), the Mishnah means that both marriage partners have the right to coerce his or her spouse to immigrate to the land of Israel. If a woman refuses her husband’s request to live in Israel, he may divorce her without paying her the value of her ketubah. If a man refuses his wife's request to move to Israel, she may demand a divorce and the full payment of her ketubah.

In practice, contemporary Rabbinic courts are reluctant to enforce these Talmudic rules. If one searches hard enough, one can find authorities who argue that, for one reason or another, the obligation to live in the land of Israel does not apply nowadays. Moreover, it is abundantly clear that a husband and wife who are devoted to each other will work out the difficult issue of whether or not to live in Israel without recourse to a Rabbinic court. Nevertheless, as an indicator of the halakhic ideal for a couple that takes Judaism seriously - the Talmudic passage speaks volumes.


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