Living in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
by Mordechai Tzion
I heard from Ha-Rav Aviv Tzuberi, Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim, that when Ha-Rav Yosef Zilberman decided to move to the Old City and live on Ma’alot Ha-Midrasha Street, his brothers-in-law, who were important Torah scholars, brought him to a Din Torah before Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, for endangering their sister and nieces and nephews. Rav Zilberman said that he is not obligated to appear before Rav Elyashiv since he is not his Rav but rather his father is his Rav. Nonetheless, he agreed to go. During the Din Torah, the brothers-in-law talked at great length about the danger involved in moving there. Rav Elyashiv stopped them in the middle and said: Until you bring a letter from the Police Chief on the Yerushalayim District saying that it is dangerous and forbidden to live there, what you are saying is Lashon Ha-Rav against Yerushalayim!
Rav Aviv further related that in Shevet 5778, a couple wanted to move into a newly-redeemed house in the Old City next to the Lion’s Gate, where no Jews lived, and when Jews move into a new area, Arabs often awaken and riot. They asked Ha-Rav Amiel Sternberg, Rosh Yeshivat Har Ha-Mor, if it is permissible to move there. He answered: It is a personal decision. One who does not move there is not considered a coward, and one who does move there is not considered irrational. It depends on 1. The feelings of the couple. 2. The future plans, i.e. for more families to move into the area when possible.
I once asked Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner, Nasi Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim: Is it forbidden to live in the Old City of Yerushalayim on account of “You shall surely safeguard your soul” (Devarim 4:15, 23:11)?
He answered: No. It is a Mitzvah. 1. Settling Eretz Yisrael requires Mesirut Nefesh. 2. It is not more dangerous than living elsewhere.