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Jun 16, 2013

Beis Din paskens Eilat is part of Eretz Yisrael, but mother can't move there

There is a long-standing halachic debate whether Eilat is considered a part of Eretz Yisrael or not. According to Rav Aviner it is, and he lists a number of reasons to support his decision, while according to Rav Elyashiv it is not. I think the most common psak is that it is not halachically Eretz Yisrael, and this has ramifications regarding travel to Eilat from within Eretz Yisrael's halachic borders, and with regard to 2nd day of yom tov (though some who say it is not eretz yisrael still say to only keep one day of yom tov in Eilat).

This issue also has ramifications regarding divorce.

A divorced couple in Netanya went to a beis din to discuss this exact issue. The ex-wife, who is remarried, wanted to move to Eilat with her new husband and her three children. She said that her ex-husband does not pay his child-support payments regularly, and the job offer she received in Eilat with a higher salary would help her pay her bills. The ex-husband counter-argued that a) Eilat is outside of Eretz Yisrael and b) Eilat is a city with questionable moral standards and many problems with immodesty and is therefore inappropriate for her to take their children to live there.

While acknowledging that Eilat is far away and it would be difficult for the father to go to visit his kids, they concluded that Eilat is a part of Eretz Yisrael. At the same time, one cannot ignore the reputation Eilat has among the people. However, one can find similar issues in many places around Israel, like Tel Aviv and Netanya, and especially all along the coastal region of Israel, including Netanya, where the mother actually lives.

The dayanim concluded that just like Netanya has problems with beaches and immodesty, yet the mother finds it possible to live there and raise her kids properly in a religious community to be Torah-observant, so too in Eilat as well she is able to claim that she is moving to a Torah-observant community and raise her children there.

In the end the decision was to not let her move to Eilat because of the difficulty it would create for the father to visit his kids. Despite Eilat being, according to these dayanim, part of Eretz Yisrael.
(source: Bechadrei)

I wonder if they would have prevented her from moving to Kiryat Shmona or Metulla for the same reason. It seems reasonable to not allow a parent to move the children too far away to be reasonable for the other parent to visit, but the ex-husband should be pressured to fulfill his financial obligations towards child support payments. If she is considering moving to Eilat because she cannot afford to raise her children, the lack of child-support payments must be pretty serious.

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  1. If he doesn't pay his child-support payments, why should he get a say in his ex-wife's choice to make her own life more affordable and consequently improve her own children's standard of living? I hope there was a caveat that was not included here where he is required to pay what he owes her or the court will allow her to move.

  2. Why jumping on the father? Maybe his salary is not high enough to pay the alimony that the court settled??? (I hear it's about 2000 a child) I would assume that the courts are not obtuse in forcing a father (or mother) into being homeless in order to pay up. From what i understand, if the spouse is not paying (or not paying enough) the bituach leumi covers the difference BUT then the mother is prevented from finding any other work, like a second job, or cleaning homes, to increase her salary. I'm told that if a mother does try to increase her income with a second job, the bituach leumi reduces the alimony for that amount.

  3. the article isnt clear n that, but it sounds like he probably just cant afford it, and she has been reasonable enough to not turn it into a fight where she refuses to let him see the kids because of it. All it says on that matter is that he hasnt paid it regularly. beyond that I dont know.

  4. "Alimony" is specifically support for the ex-wife. The issue here is child support.

  5. rafi,
    why did you conclude that "the most common psak is that it is not halachically Eretz Yisrael..."
    i understand that most poskim differentiate between the agricultural mitzvot (that no trumot, maasrot are taken and shmita not observed) in the southern part of the country but with regarding the mitzvah to live in EY and having a 1 day yom tov, most do consider it part of kedushat eretz yisreal - as is the accepted practice among almost ALL Eilat residents (besides chabadnikim and certain other chareidi groups) to keep 1 day yom tov as the rest of the country.

    1. its just my impression that that is the most common psak. I didnt do a scientific survey. I could be wrong.

      That being said, even among those who say halachically Eilat is not part of eretz yisrael, there is still a difference of opinion on various halachic issues. some say still keep only 1 day yom tov, because of the "retzef", contiguous borders with eretz yisrael. as you say, truma, maaser and shmitta has differing opinions about them. So, just saying it is or is not halachically eretz yisrael does not really tell us much about anything, I guess


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