Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Settling the Land of Israel

Where to live - Jerusalem or Other Parts of the Land


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 22, 5779
If a Jew were to choose to live in Jerusalem or any other part of the Land of Israel, which one should they choose? In other words, does it make a difference? How do you know?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The underlying assumption you make – that a Jew is certainly going to live in the land of Israel, and is now merely choosing where in Israel to life – is a wonderful one! May we be blessed to see more and more Jews from all over the world having to make such decisions – where in Israel to live. As to your question. There is a preference to living in Jerusalem. The Mishna (Ketubot) states that in an argument between a husband and wife as to where to live, the one who wants to live in Israel as opposed to outside Israel, has the upper hand. And so too, within Israel, the one who wants to live in Jerusalem has the upper hand. The Talmud explains that this is so even if living in Jerusalem would entail a lower standard of living. Although there is some discussion as to whether this law applies only when the Temple is built, or at all time – there are certainly opinions who rule that this law applies today. Based on this, one could say that one should choose to life in Jerusalem. This would be based on the sayings of the Rabbis that Jerusalem was blessed with a higher level of holiness. Also, closeness to the Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt in our time) would also be a reason to choose to live there. On the other hand, it is clear that not all the Jewish people are expected (or even encouraged) to live in the capital. From the very beginning of the settlement of the Land, the tribes where spread out, each tribe given it's own parcel of land. The Talmud relates that this division was inline with the inner makeup and temperament of each of the tribes. Even today, different segments of the people are more suited to live in different parts of the Land. Some of us are more suited to being farmers, and should live in countryside. Some like the cold, and some heat. Some people love the seaside, and others the mountains. (What a great country that we are blessed with all different climates so close to each other). More than just the geography, different parts of modern Israel are socially suited to different types of Jews. Those from Crown Heights will feel at home in Kfar Chabad. Those from Monsey perhaps in Bnie Brak or Ramat Beit Shemesh. Teaneck NJ, maybe Efrat. A Jew from France will love the “Riviera of Israel”, Netanya. An idealist of a different nature may want to settle in a Kibbutz. A secular Jew may feel at home in Tel Aviv, as too might a family who wants to work in “outreach”. In short – while there is a special level connected to Jerusalem, at the same time the land of Israel calls all the Jews back home. Blessings.
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