Question: Dear Rabbi Americanovitsch:
I’m in the process of making Aliyah. I’m already on my way to Israel, with my wives and 12 children (11 sons and a daughter), and all that we own. However I’ve just received information that my brother Esau is approaching me with 400 armed men. What should I do? Should I make Aliyah or return to Paddan Aram?
Answer: Dear Yaakov:
The first thing to understand is that in this time, when Mashiach hasn’t yet come and there’s no Holy Temple, you have no halakhic obligation to make Aliyah. Of course I understand your commendable desire to visit Israel, but you have to understand some very important points.
First: According to what you say, you and your sons will inevitably have to fight. It’s not only your brother Esau who’s hostile to you, it’s also all the Canaanite nations. So for the sake of pikuach nefesh (saving lives), you shouldn’t make Aliyah at this time. You’re better off going back to Paddan Aram.
Second: What kind of an education will your children receive in Israel? They’ll inevitably be influenced by all the idolaters in the country, and are certain to go off the derech. Even if you manage to keep them within the fold, they’ll have to take up weapons to fight, whether against Esau and his army or against the Canaanites. In Paddan Aram, you and your sons will be able to devote all your times and energy to learning Torah.
When there’s peace, you can start considering Aliyah again.
Third: In Paddan Aram you have parnassah (livelihood). In Canaan there’s no guarantee of parnassah. When the Canaanite economy is on the level of the Paddan Aramean economy then it might be time to reconsider; but in the meantime, you’re certainly better off living in Paddan Aram.
You also have to think long-term: in Paddan Aram you’re well-known, you’re wealthy and influential, so you and your children after you will be able to influence the local rulers to support Jewish settlement in Canaan when the time comes. They’ll obviously need supporters in Paddan Aram. So if you remain in Paddan Aram, you can do far more good than you can if you make Aliyah.
Now you can worship Hashem in Paddan Aram just as much as you can in Canaan. You can do your own shechita and keep kosher. You can do all the mitzvot in Paddan Aram just as well as you can in Canaan – better, indeed, because you won’t have the worries of famines, droughts, hostile nations surrounding you, and a government of idolaters.
Consider that in Paddan Aram you can spread the message that there is one G-d Who created all that exists, and you can influence the Paddan Arameans to keep the Seven Mitzvot for the Sons of Noah.
Above all, remember that as long there is no Torah-government in Canaan and no Holy Temple, and Mashiach hasn’t come yet, Canaan is as much galut [exile] as Paddan Aram.
So to answer your question: Now is not the time to make Aliyah. Go back to Paddan Aram and remain with your family there.