Can I travel for work in shana rishona?

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Hello, I’m in my first year of marriage and frequently need to travel abroad for work for a couple of days each while my husband stays in our hometown. I read that this is halachically not allowed if the husband is the travelling one (except for a mitzva/unless his wife consents). Is there any guidance for married women who need to travel? Is it the same? Is the halacha different for women?

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Asked on November 27, 2022 9:10 am
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Mazal tov!

The Torah tells us that a chatan does not go out to war over the first year of marriage, so that he can "gladden his wife" (Devarim 24:5). Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvot, Positive Commandment 214) explains that this rules out solo out-of-town travel for him in general. However, as you note, he may travel for a mitzva purpose or, according to some authorities, with his wife's consent (Sefer Ha-chinuch 582). There is also debate as to whether he can travel for the purpose of making a livelihood. Radbaz (Responsum I 238) rules that he can, because having a livelihood is a prerequisite for rejoicing. Additionally, when a husband goes into the marriage with a career that requires travel, we can assume that the kalla married having in mind that his travel would be part of their lives from the beginning (Responsa Chatam Sofer EH II 155).

The question of how this halacha applies when the wife is the one to do the traveling is a natural one to ask, since the value of the couple being together and the potential effects of traveling in the first year do not depend on which spouse travels. However, rejoicing in the first year is formulated either as an imperative on the husband, or on the community who might otherwise draft him, and we have not seen any discussion of a comparable obligation of the wife.

In any case, it sounds probable that your husband married you knowing that travel would be part of the picture even in the first year. So there would be halachic grounds for your travel to proceed even if there were an obligation, especially if it makes an important contribution to your livelihood.

Following the spirit of the verse and ensuing halachic discussion, a couple in their first year of marriage should prioritize spending time together and weigh each trip carefully, minimizing as much as possible travel that separates them. The first year is a formative time, and the special joy often experienced within it can be a powerful strength for the couple to draw back on in future years.

In general, both spouses should come to an agreement about each other's travel when it may affect their ability to follow through on their halachic and marital commitments to each other. If one spouse objects to the other's travel, then that is a serious matter that should be worked out carefully, if necessary with outside assistance, with a goal of promoting shalom bayit.

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Answered on November 27, 2022 9:24 am