Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Settling the Land of Israel

safety of living in Israel


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Nisan 22, 5771
I want to make aliya, but I can’t help but feel scared. Right now there are about 6 million Jews in Israel and every country around it is determined to destroy them, and they try more and more often, with rockets, bombs.. as we speak Iran is building nuclear bombs to destroy all of Israel. How do we know that Hashem will protect these 6 million Jews in Israel when He did not protect the 6 million in Europe? How do we know He will prevent Iran from sending an enormous bomb to wipe out half the country? Maybe some of us Jews should lay low in other countries, staying as long as they let us in whichever country is friendly at the time. Is it not endangering our lives to go to a place where terrorists try to murder us every day? Should we not try to raise our children in the safest place possible?
It is true that sometimes it's a little dangerous to be Jewish, nevertheless, over history, our forefathers even preferred death rather than so much as deny their Judaism. Even though it may be challenging, I wouldn’t give up my Judaism for anything. Thank G-d, in our generation, we rarely have to give our lives for the mitzvot, nevertheless, a mitzvah like aliya does call for a little self-sacrifice in terms of a little lower standard of living, serving in the army, occasional incidents, etc. The fact that we have enemies like Iran, shouldn’t scare us from doing our job of observing mitzvot like aliya, but just serves as a reminder that we are still, and always will be, the Chosen People, with a special biblical and historical moral mission, and that’s just another reason to make aliya, to be an active participant in the Chosen Nation in the Promised Land. In the exile, as you mentioned, 6 million of our brothers were slaughtered, but thank G-d, in Israel, we have an army and can defend ourselves, which again, is just another reason to make aliya, to participate in that all-important mitzvah of serving in the army. True, in 130 years of Zionism, we have gone through 7 wars and not a few terrorist attacks, but looking historically, those 26,000 casualties, with all the pain involved, cannot be compared quantitatively nor qualitatively, to even one week in Auschwitz. Even in the time of Joshua and David we had enemies attacking us every now and then, but that’s the price we were always happy to pay to live as the Jewish Nation in Eretz Yisrael. Regarding the nuclear threat, our rabbis teach us in many places that once we will return for the third time to the land of Israel (the first was from Egypt, the second from Babylon), there will not be another exile (Tanchuma Shoftim 9, Yalkut Shimoni, Hoshea 518). In the time of Ezra, the 42,000 who came back are considered a “return”. How much more so, today, when more than 100 times (!) that many Jews have come home, that we are undoubtedly witnessing the third and final return, and that we’re here to stay. Our rabbis actually deal explicitly with the modern threat which you mentioned, and tell us not to fear (Sanhedrin 106a). To the contrary, Iran should worry about themselves: “Woe to the nation who tries to prevent the Father from redeeming His son, Woe to the fool who interferes with the Lion who wishes to mate with His beloved lioness (after such a long 2,000 year separation)!” Thank G-d we know in the end that it’s worth it to be the Chosen Pople in the Chosen Land. The benefit of being the sons (who are also the queen!) of King of the Universe, is sure to come and we have nothing to fear! Yes, we must pray, do tshuva, and improve our observance of mitzvot (yet another reason to make aliya, and not to stay away!), yet we have no doubt, that just like Pharoh, Haman, Antiochus and the rest, Ahmadinijan, y’mach shmo, is also “going to get it”, as he surely deserves. I don’t know how, but he won’t be around in the future, yet “Judea will be settled forever and Jerusalem for all generations” (Yoel 4, 20). The safest and surest way to live is to follow the mitzvot, of which one of the most important ones is living in the Land of Israel (“Equated with the rest of the mitzvot combined”, Sifre, Dvarim 12). If you would have asked 150 years ago, or 1,500 years ago, when there was no economy, scarce water, and no protection, I would have answered that “that” would be dangerous. Thank G-d, Israel today is extremely livable, and 6 million citizens, and constant aliya and conversions can attest to that. In every Jewish family which will be around in the days of Mashiach, there will have been one member who had the vision, the idealism and the “guts” to make aliya and move the family tree to its final eternal destination. Be that member and your legacy will live on forever! Lehitra’ot baAretz! Rav Ari Shvat
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