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Feb 29, 2012

Interesting Psak: Protesting And Opposing The Construction Of A New Neighborhood

There is a petition being passed around for signing to protest the plans for construction in RBS C2. The petition is based on the flaws in the planning of the area and the infrastructure of the city being unable to bear so much new growth with inadequate plans for upgrading it.

Somebody decided sent a halachic question to Rav Yuval Cherlo to see if it is ok to oppose construction in Eretz Yisrael.

From the Moreshet website:
Around our neighborhood, there are a number of plans for the development of new neighborhoods that are meant to add about 200,000 new residents within 15 years. The new neighborhoods are planned with inadequate infrastructure of public and religious buildings, schools, mikvas, shopping areas and city access roads.
Right now the infrastructure in Bet Shemesh and the surrounding areas is deficient and lacking enough public buildings and appropriate roads. The main access road to the city - Highway 38 - was already declared in 2005 as a road in danger of collapse. In our neighborhood with thousands of religious families, there is only one working mikva for women.
We oppose the construction of these new neighborhoods because the new neighbors will add much more traffic on the mikvas, schools, shopping centers, and roads in the area and in our neighborhood, that already cannot bear the current traffic levels.
Are we allowed to oppose  and delay the building of a new neighborhood in Eretz Yisrael until the city infrastructure will be installed to bear the future residents of those neighborhoods?
Rav Cherlo's answer:
My answer is not for the specific situation and for the facts as described. I am familiar with the reality on a superficial level (I drive on highway 38 daily) and I estimate that what you are saying is correct, but I do not have the tools to know if it is or is it, what the plans are, what the infrastructure is, etc. Therefore, my answer will only involve a halachic perspective and not the specific details.
The mitzva of settling Eretz Yisrael does not include or obligate building without plans or infrastructure, and with serious damage to the environment. Just the opposite - fulfilling this mitzva properly is specifically by planning properly, by building appropriate infrastructures, and tryign as much as possible that the construction should be "green" with minimal damage to the environment.
Therefore, it is definitely allowed for you to oppose, and perhaps even an obligation, if they are not done properly.
In the halacha itself, in the 2nd perek of Baba Basra, there are some ecological rules that teach us the halachic trend to take these issues into account, and to include them in our decision making. It is the responsibility of the local governing body, and of the construction committee, and they always must remember that the mitzva of yishuv eretz yisrael is in the way of "yishuv", with the predominance of halacha in this realm, and not by sticking people into places without infrastructure.
Obviously, this is not the only factor when looking from a halachic perspective. Another factor to consider is to not be like Soddom and Gemorroh and not prevent the good from other people. You need to not just oppose, but also to say that if the appropriate conditions will come about the community will open itself to others, and the expansion of the place will be a bracha for everyone.
(Hattip: CW)
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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful answer? I wonder what his answer would be to the following: Every neighbourhood needs to have a certain respectable appearance in order for it to look nice, and pleasant for people to live in. Along comes a group of well meaning people, who build a very big shul, but either they run out of money, or it does not bother them, what it looks like from the outside, so from the outisde it looks a mess, usually a dark unfinished grey, and destroys the aesthetic appearnce of the neighbourhood. How people can honestly pray in such an edifice is beyond me. I wonder what the halacha says on this


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