Mar 18, 2018

interesting psak: his mitzva gets him custody of child

A divorced couple were fighting over who would get custody of their child for the upcoming Pesach holiday.

This case is not like some other cases where we heard arguments based on one parent being religious and the other not. In this case both are religious - both are Haredi. And both the mother and the father want the child for the Pesach seder.

Why this was not worked out in the custody schedule I do not know, but it seems to not have been, and the beis din says their decision includes the considerations of custody arrangements (details of which are not mentioned) and the fact that the mother left the home, along with the following...

The beis din in Yerusahlayim decided the cased based on the mitzva of "vhigadta lbincha" - the father has the main part of the mitzva of retelling the story of thee exodus on the night of Pesach to his children, and this is not the obligation of the mother.

They go into great detail regarding the importance of the mitzva of every father telling the story of the exodus over to his children and concludes based on that and the fact that the father in this case says explicitly that he wants his son with him in order to be able to fulfill this mitzva properly, they are granting the custody for the first night of Pesach, with the seder, to the father, and the mother will get the child for the last holiday of Pesach. They do define the mother's part in the mitzva of retelling the story of the exodus as being very important, specifically in regards to transmitting her faith to her children, and specifically in the preparations in ridding the house of chametz and the preparations for the holiday in advance of the holiday including the cooking and the cooking amazing foods...
source: Behadrei

note: I only reviewed the psak briefly.. for more details see the behadrei article linked above.

Without knowing specific details of the arguments and of the custody arrangements and just assuming objectively equal arguments, I do find the decision based on the mitzva to be insulting and even degrading to the mother. She has to lose out being with her son because her ex-husband's mitzva is deemed more important? Don't we say in Pirkei Avos that we should not weigh mitzvas against each other as we do not know the reward for any specific miztva and do not know which is really more important than the other?  She gets the mitzva of cleaning and he gets the mitzva of sitting back and being with his son? Since when is the mitzva of ridding the house of chametz only on her? does a single mother not have a mitzva of retelling the story of the exodus to her children?

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  1. What in the world are you talking about? They live in separate houses (they are divorced) and each has to clean their own house. The son can see Pesach cleaning at whatever house he happens to be at in the time leading up to Pesach. (Maybe both houses.)

    The only issue is where he is spending the Seder (and maybe the first day of Yom Tov if the parents do not live all that close.) For that, the father has the primary mitzvah. Like the mitzvah to teach his child Torah or to give him a bris Milah. IF you find that degrading, then you have a problem with the Torah.

    (They are not saying his mitzvah is more important than hers. Everyone has the mitzvah of Maggid the night of the Seder. The special mitzvah is on the father to teach his son. And, yes, for that the father has the primary mitzvah.)

    1. I am talking about what they said. her mitzva is in the pre-pesach prep, the cleaning, which they said specifically, and his is in the retelling of the story. true, poor kid will probably have to help in both houses.
      does this mean every year dad will get boychik for the seder because it is his mitzva specifically for that night? she loses out because of his mitzva?

  2. Unfortunately yes.


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