Q & A - WITH RABBI RISKIN
Q: Driving throughout Yesha (Judea, Samaria, Gaza) has become so dangerous. Does the mitzvah of "guarding one's life" obligate us to limit our travels wherever possible in this situation?
A: The Gemara in Massekhet Berakhot 3a records a fascinating conversation between Rabbi Yossi and Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet).
Rabbi Yossi had been traveling and stopped to pray in one of the ruins of Jerusalem. Eliyahu Hanavi stood at the entrance and waited for him to conclude his prayers. He pointed out to him that he should not have prayed in a ruin, but rather should have prayed on the road. When Rabbi Yossi argued that he had feared the highwaymen who might have harmed him, Eliyahu instructed that in that case his prayer on the road should be kept short.
It would appear to me that the message here is clear: Eliyahu, traditionally known as the figure who will bring tidings of the future redemption, is teaching Rabbi Yossi that redemption will not come unless the Jews themselves start the process of using the roads of Eretz Yisrael. It is forbidden for us to avoid progressing toward redemption because of the threat posed by enemies who seek our harm.
Two other points should be kept in mind:
Our enemies are testing our level of endurance. There can be no doubt that those who can remain steadfast will inherit the land; we cannot falter. Statistically, the danger of road accidents is still greater than the danger of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Petach Tikva or Sderot, to our sorrow. We must demonstrate ownership and control of our roads and our land, and behave like people who dwell in our own domain.
At the same time, one should take care to recite "Tefilat Haderech" and "He who trusts in Hashem - he shall be surrounded with mercy."
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