There is a mitzvah to guard your soul diligently. I am pretty sure this is applied to guarding your physical body from injury.

My question is, may one travel to a place that others may consider dangerous?

If so, what is the barometer/shiur for judging as to what is permissible and what is not?

  • this is highly related answer (possibly even duplicate) of a question on whether sky-diving was appropriate, see judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/67421/…
    – mbloch
    Mar 14, 2016 at 19:12
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    Also very close to the same: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/29319/… . I'm very interested in the use of "others may consider" here. Are you specifically asking about the effect of perceived danger?
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 14, 2016 at 19:38
  • Adding to @IsaacMoses's question, there is sometimes a conflicting factor known as "G-d protects the fools" (rough translation). This applies, for example, to Rav Feinstein's permission to allow people to smoke despite evidence that smoking was "considered dangerous" by others.
    – DanF
    Mar 14, 2016 at 19:42
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    yeshiva.org.il/midrash/25127 Mar 14, 2016 at 20:37
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    @IsaacMoses "In addition, the Gemara writes in a number of places (Shabbat 129b, Yevamot 12b, and Nidda 31b) that when an activity is regarded by a society as an acceptable risk, then one is permitted to engage in such an activity despite the risk. " from koltorah.org/ravj/…
    – jj2
    Mar 15, 2016 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


Someone asked R Shlomo Aviner that question regarding traveling on the roads of the West Bank which some certainly consider dangerous.

He writes one can travel to places where the danger is uncommon (Rabbi Kook, Mitzvat Re’eiyah 3:17)

We must to distinguish between cases of “harm being common” (Pesachim 8b), where we have to be cautious, and cases of “harm not being common,” where we need not be cautious.


We must distinguish between justified fear and exaggerated fear, otherwise we are liable to sit in fear day and night doing nothing.

Incidentally he reminds us this is actually a very old question.

At the end of the Kuzari [written in ca. 1140], the King of the Khazars asks the scholar: “Why are you going to Eretz Yisrael? Surely the trip there, involving travel over land and by sea, is fraught with danger?” The scholar responds, “It is no different from the merchant who travels far in hope of earning a profit.”

For instance regarding traveling to the West Bank and Israel, there have been 88 casualties from terrorism in all of Israel (not just the West Bank) between 2012-2016 compared with 1633 from road accidents. As such terrorism falls into the harm not being common category.

See here for further halachic proof based on the distinction between a high-probability danger and a low-probability danger, and on the idea one can take a small risk if traveling for a mitsva.


Mesilat Yesharim chapter 9.

והכלל להבחין בין שתי היראות הוא מה שחלקו חכמים זכרונם לברכה באמרם (פסחים ח, ב) היכא דשכיח היזיקא שאני. כי מקום שההיזק מצוי ונודע, יש להשמר. אך מקום שאין ההיזק נודע, אין לירא. ועל כיוצא בזה נאמר (חולין נו, ב) ריעותא דלא חזינן לא מחזקינן, ואין לו לחכם אלא מה שעיניו רואות. הוא עצמו ענין הפסוק שהבאנו למעלה "ערום ראה רעה ונסתר", הא אינו מדבר אלא בנסתר מן הרעה אשר רואה לא ממה שיוכל להיות שיהיה אפשרי שיבוא, והוא ממש ענין הפסוק שהזכרתי למעלה, אמר עצל שחל בדרך וגו'. ‏

The general principle to distinguish between the two types of fear is as our sages specified saying: "where harm is likely it is different" (Pesachim 8b). For in a place where harm is likely and foreseeable it is proper to guard oneself. But in a place where there is no known danger one should not fear. On similar to this the sages said: "we do not assume any defect without cause" (Chulin 56b). And "a judge need be guided only by that which his eyes see" (Bava Batra 131a). This itself is the intent of the verse we brought earlier "the clever man sees the evil and hides himself" (Mishlei 22:3), which states only about escaping from the evil that one can see not of the evil which perhaps, possibly, may occur. This is precisely like the verse brought earlier "the lazy man says there is a lion in the way.." (Mishlei 26:13). Our sages, of blessed memory, illustrated, in successive degrees, to what extent unfounded fear can go to cause a person to refrain from good deeds. They said (Midrash Devarim Raba 8:6):

When damages are frequent you need to be afraid, not when it's rare. The source is in Gemara Pesachim 8b.

But R`Eleazar said: Those sent [t perform] a religious duty do not suffer harm? - Where the injury is probable it is different, for it is said And Samuel said, How can I go?

if Saul hear it, he will kill me.

And the Lord said, Take a heifer with thee, etc.

An other source cited by the Mesilat Yesharim is in Chulin 56b. Bad thing that one doesn't see, are not considered as actual.

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