I am writing this letter while on a rabbinic mission in Israel bringing with me over 200 packages of thermal undershirts and underwear, 80 G-Shock watches, hundreds of letters and an abundance of l love from hundreds of families in Oceanside. It is true that we are sometimes forbidden to put ourselves in a dangerous situation when we may not rely on miracles. However, I do not believe that it is dangerous to visit Israel now and we provide so much strength and support to the citizens of Israel by our visits so we should try to go if we can.
But what if we are afraid to travel to Israel? I think that there is a difference between an individual and a community. I am not afraid and I don’t think people should be afraid to travel to Israel, but I should not judge someone else’s feelings. If he or she is afraid then it’s understandable why he or she may decide not to travel to Israel at this time. But the Jewish community as a whole must not be afraid to travel to Israel. If we do, then we let terror win and we weaken the resolve of our brothers and sisters in Israel. And we must not allow this to happen.
– Rabbi Jonathan Muskat is the rabbi of the Young Israel of Oceanside, a rebbe at Shulamith High School, and a pastoral health care liaison at Mount Sinai South Nassau.
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In general, our sages understood that all travel may include some elements of danger, thus our wayfarer’s prayer – Tefilas Haderech. Travel, in today’s troubling environment, has become far more difficult than ever before. Travelers to and from Israel continue their visits in spite of the current war, though not in the same numbers as before the war.
Many young people from the United States and Canada are continuing their study in yeshivot and seminaries in Eretz Yisrael. My close friend asked his son if he will join the fight? The young man’s response “What do you think we are doing; we are fighting by learning Torah.”
I proudly note that the president of my shul has just embarked on a trip to Israel to volunteer in the south with Hatzalah. We sent him with our blessings.
Life goes on. Like so many of us, I have many family members close and far who are living, studying and serving in the midst of this current war. We pray for them, but visiting with them and supporting the Israeli economy in a first-hand manner turns prayer into action.
If we truly believe in the very purpose of creation, that is the Torah and Israel (the people and the land; see Rashi, Parashas Bereishis, Genesis 1:1) we will understand that we have less to fear from travel to Israel than to any other destination in the world. May Hashem shine His countenance on our brave chayalim and give them strength and Heavenly protection in their quest to victory.
– Rabbi Yaakov Klass is chairman of the Presidium of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at [email protected] and [email protected].
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It certainly is dangerous at this point to be in a country that is at war. Not to say anywhere is safe – the world is becoming a lot less safe for Jews. Nevertheless, there certainly is a higher risk factor and therefore if someone is afraid, no one can say to them “you have to go,” “you should go,” or “it’s right to go.” A person has a right to say, “I am afraid and I don’t want to do it.”
There is a concept that if a hezek (source of damage) isn’t readily seen, if it isn’t common or known, then bitachon demands that we do not be afraid of such things. In other words, we are not allowed to be afraid of things that are very uncommon or very unlikely, and if there is something that is a very far-removed possibility, one has to overcome those fears and ignore it because that’s not proper hishtadlut. However, here we are dealing with a significant danger, it certainly to be prudent and proper if a person is afraid not to go.
Again, that is not to say that it is not dangerous everywhere else as well, and if we were to assess the danger, we might find it to be more dangerous in other places. Nevertheless, if a person is afraid, they are allowed to act on how they feel and there is nothing wrong with that.
– Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier is founder of The Shmuz and author of 10 Really Dumb Mistakes That Very Smart Couples Make (available at theshmuz.com).
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It is forbidden for a Yid to put himself into a dangerous situation needlessly. Although Eretz Yisrael finds itself in the midst of a war, most places there do not rise to the level of a “makom sakana.” While statistically there might be a slightly higher chance of harm being there over other places in the world; a Jew must know that his years are numbered by G-d and when the time comes the time comes; if it’s not the time he will remain alive. This is a level of bitachon in Hashem that we should all strive to live by.
Aside from reasons of bitachon and hashkafa, it seems that going to Eretz Yisrael gives those who live there a sense of encouragement and chizuk. It shows them that we are with them in their moment of difficulty and we all share in that tzar. Anyone who has reason to go is encouraged to. At the same time, at the end of the day, someone who is afraid is afraid and it makes sense to postpone their travels.
May we all be zoche to great the Mashiah b’karov.
– Rabbi Yehoshua Heber is Rav of Khal Tomchai Torah at Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Dayan at Bdatz Mishptai Yisrael.