This is a very personal question that implicates Jewish values as well. Certainly, to share in the anguish of others is a primary Jewish value. Every Jew must try to reinforce his/her fundamental identification with the Jewish people. And even seminary students who remain in Israel can contribute in enormous ways (e.g., there is a shortage of volunteers in senior residences). Every Jew everywhere must feel part of the war effort and that the war affects each of us personally.
We should reject that notion that Israel is a spiritual amusement park where we go to enjoy and refresh and grow and have a good time. The Nevi’im taught us that the return to Israel at the end of days would not be cost free. That cost must be borne by all Jews and to be poresh min hatzibur is usually criticized.
Yet, the prevailing anxiety today in general can become especially pronounced in wartime or other stressful situations. Those students who feel overwhelmed should do what is necessary to maintain their physical and emotional safety, even if that requires temporary relocation. Of course, they should perceive it as not “going home” but as “leaving home” to seek refuge elsewhere.
But this is a very personal question and much depends on the temperament of the student. No one should unfavorably judge anyone who leaves, as Chazal taught (Avot 2:4) we do not stand in their place, with their personalities, needs and dispositions.
May Hashem preserve His people and His land!
– Rav Steven Pruzansky is Israel region Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values and author of six books, including the recent “Road to Redemption,” available at Kodeshpress.com.
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As with all questions such as this, every situation needs to be examined based on its unique factors and circumstances.
On the one hand most gedolei Yisrael in Israel who are aware of the situation advise those here to stay here, as Eretz Yisrael offers special spiritual protection. The situation for Jews world over is fraught with danger, and leaving Israel to England or the U.S. does not necessarily afford one greater safety.
However, the emotional state of the boy or girl who are terrified to stay and are experiencing real trauma must be taken into consideration, as well as the emotional state of parents who are genuinely and intensely nervous about their children. Aside from the health issues to the children and parents involved, there may be kibbud av v’eim issues to consider.
An additional factor to consider is the exact location in Israel the child is to be and the location he will be if he returns home, weighing the amount of potential danger in each location.
The financial considerations and missing out on a year of study in Eretz Yisrael should also be considered, as well as what the child will do if he returns home (how productive will it be for his future compared to finishing his year in Israel).
May we see the yeshua swiftly and hear only besoros tovos both here in Eretz Yisrael and around the world.
– Rabbi Zev Leff is rav of Moshav Matisyahu and a popular lecturer and educator.