From the Rav’s Desk: Leaving Israel during times of War


I am a Canadian citizen, and have the ability to receive a free flight from Israel for my family in order to escape the war. I would like to know what is the proper approach that I should follow? On the one hand, I and my family definitely would feel safer elsewhere, on the other hand, we feel it is not morally right for us to leave and are so to say managing with the current circumstances. What is the correct approach?



Absent of any other mitigating circumstances, as a general rule, the Rebbe directed people in Israel not to leave the country during times of war. Not only did the Rebbe state that there is no need to leave Israel, but that it is almost forbidden to do so. Practically, one should not leave Israel just to jump on a free opportunity to leave the country, and should only do so if he or his children are unable to properly function due to panic and fear for their safety, in which case one should try to move to a safer area within Israel, and only if not possible, should one contemplate returning to their native country. Even then it is recommended that one speak to his spiritual mentor or rabbi for direction.



The reason for the Rebbe’s instructions is twofold; 1) the land of Israel is given a special promise in Scripture to receive the providence of God on a greater level than any other land, and hence Israel is to be considered the safest of lands which is protected from all calamities due to a special providence from God. Hence, to leave Israel due to fear of one’s safety, when the danger is not palpable and present [as it was for example in the settlements of the Gaza Strip], would contradict this promise, and make one be considered Mikatnei Emuna, of small faith. 2) A second more severe reason explained the Rebbe is due to that there is a Biblical prohibition against showing and expressing fear and cause others to panic and fear during times of war, as doing so can destroy the morale of the country and Army which can lead to their downfall, Chas Veshalom. Just imagine if all citizens started fleeing the country due to panic of the war. Certainly this would have a depleting effect on the morale of the country and its soldiers, and hence on this basis the Rebbe stated that it is almost forbidden for one to flee during wartime. Nonetheless, certainly this only applies to the general public, and as always, if there are other mitigating circumstances, it is permitted for one to leave Israel even during times of war. Thus, if one were one’s children generally suffer from anxiety, and they are not able to handle the current situation in Israel, then they may consider leaving for the sake of their mental and emotional health, which is no different than leaving for the sake of physical health. However, everyone else should do their utmost not to panic and to strengthen their faith in God that He will keep them safe.


Sources: See Rambam Hilchos Melachim 7:15; Igros Kodesh Volume 24 Mavo 15-16

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