4

As the famous Gemara (Eruvin 96a et. al.) states:

כל מקום שנאמר 'השמר פן ואַל' - אינו אלא בלא תעשה

Anywhere that it says Hishamer, Penn, or Al, it is a "do not do."

May one live in Pennsylvania, as Penn indicates a "thou shalt not"? What about Alabama and Alaska, since Al indicates a "thou shalt not?"

Obviously if you're going to learn Torah or otherwise do mitzvos, we'd say that the positive mitzvah overrides the negative one, so surely going to the Philidelphia Yeshiva would be okay. But other than that, may one go?


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  • 1
    Alaska is AK which is just a miut – wfb Mar 15 at 15:45
  • 1
    קרא למה לי, סברא היא. – user6591 Mar 15 at 19:08
1

Having lived in one of those locations, Hishamer (which is in PA), I recall the scriptural support for living there.

Dev. 4:9

רק השמר לך

Only go to Hishamer

I follow the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer (Nida 7) that we may not create comparisons between rabbinic and biblical. Therefore the source you brought did not interfere with my dwelling decision. Plus, I was on Mi Yodeya at the time, so it was basically leshmah!

ורבי אליעזר ... ורבנן מדאורייתא לא עבדינן קל וחומר

As far as Alaska is concerned, if you’re part of the tribe of Dan (sounds like you are), you should be fine. As is allotted in Yehoshua (21):

וּמִמַּ֨טֵּה־דָ֔ן אֶֽת־אֶלְתקֵ֖א וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶׁ֑הָ אֶֽת־גִּבְּת֖וֹן וְאֶת־מִגְרָשֶֽׁהָ׃

From the tribe of Dan, Alaska with its pastures, Gibbethon with its pastures,

  • So Hishamer is already forbidden as it’s in Penn! Or are you saying this is an exception to the rule? – DonielF Mar 15 at 18:21
  • ..we derive penn from Hishamer – Dr. Shmuel Mar 15 at 18:22
  • Ah, I see, כל דבר שהיה בכלל ויצא מן הכלל ללמד לא ללמד על עצמו יצא אלא ללמד על כלו יצא. At that point, we can make a צד השוה between Penn and Hishamer from which to learn out Al. – DonielF Mar 15 at 18:24
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Pirkei Avot provides good guidance for this answer in several areas:

The end of Chapter 6 (Well, OK, it's actually a Braita, not part of Avot, but, it's called "the 6th chapter" in our Siddurim) advises that one should live only in a place that has Torah people.

There are several other places in Pirkei Avot that mention interactions with people in various ways such as:

"In a place where there are no people, strive to be a person (man)."

and

Be like Aharon by pursuing peace and bringing people close to Torah.

So, to do this, I would start by viewing the statistics regarding the Jewish population of the 3 states that you mentioned.

Clearly, you can see that between 1899 and 2018, both Alabama and Alaska are near the bottom of the list n terms of population growth - 0.2 % and 0.8%, respectively. That doesn't indicate much of a good environment for being in a Torah type community. Yes, I understand that Montgomery and Birmingham, AL have some shuls there, but it's still tough to find a solid Jewish community where Torah is expanding. My point is, that if you're going to try to bring people to Torah, you have to have as many Jews around to do that to maximize your potential and success, right?

Alaska is a poorer Jewish environment than Alabama. I think Fairbanks has a shul. Someone from my neighborhood was there about a year ago and told me that they barely get a minyan, and in the entire state, you won't find many Jews. Worse, look how much barren land is in Alaska. Yes, it says, "In a place were there are no men, strive to be a man." But, really ... have you ever been on the Klondike Highway in February during a blizzard - quite common?? Forget about "striving" to be a man - you're more concerned about surviving to be a man!

So, now look at Pennsylvania. They had a 2.3% population growth. Now, that's significant compared to the other 2 states. Plus, look how many Jews are in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, alone. They speak for themselves! Not only is it easy to live in a Torah place, but alos, not only can you be a man, you can be a shtarker quite easily.

In summary, your analysis is correct. Pennsylvania is the only one you can live in.

  • Even though Penn indicates "though shalt not"?! – DonielF Mar 15 at 15:57
  • As you indicated in your question, a positive mitzvah overrides a negative one. – DanF Mar 15 at 16:06

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