Many people, both inside and out of Eretz Yisroel, are
bewildered by the recent events: should one come here or
There is the steady pressure of Palestinian violence for
almost twelve months, and the promise of its continuation into
the foreseeable future. While the Reform movement announced
very loudly that it was suspending its summer programs this
year, the religious schools and Torah centers of the Holy Land
are functioning at a level completely undiminished by the
How does one evaluate the situation?
There is certainly no substitute for the counsel of a Torah
figure in evaluating one's personal alternatives. Nonetheless,
and without eliminating the need for the personal advice of a
Torah sage, it is possible to explain an important general
principle that is clearly operative in this case, and is very
widely applicable throughout life.
This point is a chapter out of Mesillas Yeshorim
(chapter 9, "An Explanation of the Factors that Detract from
Zerizus and Eliminating Them").
"Another of the detractions from zerizus is great fear
of the events of the day. One time one may fear the cold or
the heat, another time he will fear accidents, another time
sickness, and other such threats. . . . Chazal already
criticized this approach and said that it is the approach of
sinners. Scripture supports them as it says, "Those who fear
in Zion are sinners" (Yeshaya 33). . . .
"Maybe you will argue that we see that chachomim
required that in any place one should guard oneself well and
not put oneself into danger even if one is a tzaddik
and has many good deeds . . .
"Now: there is fear and there is fear. There is an appropriate
fear and there is foolish fear. There is bitochon and
there is recklessness. . . .
"Whoever does not conduct himself according to the path of
reason and exposes himself to dangers -- this is not
bitochon but recklessness. And he sins thereby in that
he acts against the will of the Creator, blessed be He, who
wants Man to guard himself . . .
"However the guarding and fear that are based on the dictates
of reason and understanding are the appropriate ones. Of them,
it was said (Mishlei 22): `The cunning saw evil and
hid; the simpleton went ahead and was punished.' The foolish
fear is when a person wants to heap up caution upon caution
and fear upon fear, and makes guards to the guarding to the
extent that it interferes with Torah and avodoh. The
rule for distinguishing the two fears is what Chazal said:
`Where damage is frequent it is different.' For where danger
is common and well-known it should be guarded against; but
where there is no clear danger one should not fear."
People in Eretz Yisroel are able to lead normal lives and
perform all their usual activities. The violence is not a part
of day-to-day life for most people in Eretz Yisroel. Torah
activity proceeds with all its normal characteristics. The
gains to be had from the Torah power in Eretz Yisroel are
undiminished by the hate of Yishmoel, and even all his
despicable attacks, for all their horror, take a toll that is
less than a fifth of the steady toll of traffic accidents. The
threat from crime in many cities of the world is greater than
the threat from an Arab terrorist in Eretz Yisroel.
What a specific person or family should do will depend on many
factors. But the clear-headed analysis of the Ramchal of how
to evaluate situations for whether they are truly dangerous or
not can help us know what to ask and has application to many
other of life's challenges.