I'm from a place that usually never gets an earthquake, I want to move to California but it sounds dangerous because of the earthquake possibility (soil turning to liquid, no warning, etc)...

Is moving there considered putting yourself in danger?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Jerry! Keep in mind that Mi Yodeya does not provide practical halachic advice. You might also want to see "Why is it necessary to ask a rabbi?" for more info. consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. We hope to see you around! – MTL Feb 4 '15 at 1:17
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    Probably someone has done an actuarial analysis of the comparative dangers of living in various places, but my guess is that, even just analyzing risk of natural danger by region, much of California is as safe or safer than most other major population centers in the US, as there is less danger from snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, very cold weather, or even climate-related psychological conditions like SAD. Also, there are large population centers in California that do not lie on major active fault lines. – Fred Feb 4 '15 at 2:20
  • @Jerry You might want to check out the exact facts on California earthquakes on the appropriate StackExchange forum. – LN6595 Feb 4 '15 at 2:40
  • This lecture is relevant. I haven't listened to it recently enough to quote, though. – MTL Feb 4 '15 at 2:45
  • @LN6595 That would probably be Skeptics, if I had to take a guess. There's probably also information on this on ca.gov – MTL Feb 4 '15 at 2:51

The danger from an earthquake is balanced, as LN6595 cites from Fred, by other dangers. Let me quantify that:

The life expectancy in California is 80.8 years; in New York State (for example), it's 80.5 years. (Source.) Thus, despite the earthquakes, despite the freeways, despite Death Valley and Bay to Breakers and all the other dangers out there, you still can be expected to live longer than if you live in New York. So it's not dangerous to move out there.

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For a situation to be forbidden according to Halacha, there must be a significant danger. A situation where there is only a very small likelihood of danger is not forbidden under Jewish law. Instead, one should trust Hashem who watches over us as the Pasuk in Tehillim says, "Shomer Pesayim Hashem" - Hashem guards those who act simply. (Mesillas Yesharim, Sha'ar HaZrizus)

I heard that another consideration in Halacha is whether the danger is great enough to be a consideration for most normal people. Halacha does not prohibit driving on a highway - or even crossing a street - despite the possible danger that could result, since these are considered "safe" behaviors by all people.

A final consideration that Fred brought up is this: All places are subject to some form of danger. California is likely no worse, statistically, than any other place.

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  • Shomer Pesaim Hashem – Shmuel Brin Feb 4 '15 at 3:19
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    @ShmuelBrin PesaYim. There's a yud. – Double AA Feb 4 '15 at 5:03

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