Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Ellul 5761 - September 5, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Is it Reasonable to Go Study in Eretz Yisroel in the Midst of an Intifadah?

Many people, both inside and out of Eretz Yisroel, are bewildered by the recent events: should one come here or not?

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 violence.

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.

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