Friday, January 25, 2013

Mishpachah's Myopia, etc.

In this week's Mishpachah magazine, editor Rabbi Moshe Grylak writes about why charedim in Israel don't serve in the army (online here). I drew upon various blog posts that I have written and put together a response that you can download at this link. It's a PDF file, so you can print it out and share it on Shabbos with people who read Mishpachah.

If you're looking for a dvar Torah to share about Tu B'Shvat, I once wrote an essay that you can view at this link. It's based on various material that I heard from Rav Moshe Shapiro.

If you live in NY/NJ, I'd really appreciate it if you could spread the word about my program at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange next Sunday. You can download the flyer at this link.

Good Shabbos!


  1. I think the opening line of his explanation is quite telling as to how the process of Hareidi decisions are made "In my humble opinion -- and, I believe, in the opinion of gedolei Yisrael".
    'Nough said.

  2. Your explanation as to why chareidim refuse to serve in the military (because they want to maintain they're lifestyles) doesn't address why their yeshivos left Ashdod for Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh whereas the hesder yeshivos of Sderot and Netivot remained in the danger zone.

    I feel that the real reason chareidim don't want to serve their country is because they don't feel a sense of responsibility for their environment.

  3. Who are they to take orders from? From Ehud Bardak? From those who do not keep Torah and Misswoth and worked and work to destroy Judaism (and their are many examples to this). The problem is not fighting for the land, the problem is the fact that the State cannot be trusted and often does not want to promote or uphold Jews being Religious.
    See for example the female singers in the I.D.F. WHY? Why make such an issue knowing the sensitivities of Haredim? Also they closed down some Hesder Yeshivot, etc. They cannot be trusted.
    Now if they actually made more Jewish Battalions (as in complying fully with Halacha) that would be a different story, until then we see that they cannot be trusted.
    And all of you who are soo ready and eager, see what most of your children will become once they finish their army service especially in mixed units.
    Also their is this big fuss about Haredim and service. Most of them are not even needed. Many many people dodge the draft as it is, at least these dodge to learn Torah instead instead of taking drugs and being on the streets (as in many cases).

  4. Thanks for ripping the "Krum-akis". Why don't you call them cowards,which is what they really are?

    Libby Ba'mizrach

  5. Can three tzaddikim save even one city? No.

    יחזקאל פרק יד

    (יב) וַיְהִי דְבַר יְקֹוָק אֵלַי לֵאמֹר:
    (יג) בֶּן אָדָם אֶרֶץ כִּי תֶחֱטָא לִי לִמְעָל מַעַל וְנָטִיתִי יָדִי עָלֶיהָ וְשָׁבַרְתִּי לָהּ מַטֵּה לָחֶם וְהִשְׁלַחְתִּי בָהּ רָעָב וְהִכְרַתִּי מִמֶּנָּה אָדָם וּבְהֵמָה:
    (יד) וְהָיוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה בְּתוֹכָהּ נֹחַ דנאל דָּנִיֵּאל וְאִיּוֹב הֵמָּה בְצִדְקָתָם יְנַצְּלוּ נַפְשָׁם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְקֹוִק:
    (טו) לוּ חַיָּה רָעָה אַעֲבִיר בָּאָרֶץ וְשִׁכְּלָתָּה וְהָיְתָה שְׁמָמָה מִבְּלִי עוֹבֵר מִפְּנֵי הַחַיָּה:
    (טז) שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה בְּתוֹכָהּ חַי אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְקֹוִק אִם בָּנִים וְאִם בָּנוֹת יַצִּילוּ הֵמָּה לְבַדָּם יִנָּצֵלוּ וְהָאָרֶץ תִּהְיֶה שְׁמָמָה:
    (יז) אוֹ חֶרֶב אָבִיא עַל הָאָרֶץ הַהִיא וְאָמַרְתִּי חֶרֶב תַּעֲבֹר בָּאָרֶץ וְהִכְרַתִּי מִמֶּנָּה אָדָם וּבְהֵמָה:
    (יח) וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה בְּתוֹכָהּ חַי אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְקֹוִק לֹא יַצִּילוּ בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת כִּי הֵם לְבַדָּם יִנָּצֵלוּ:
    (יט) אוֹ דֶּבֶר אֲשַׁלַּח אֶל הָאָרֶץ הַהִיא וְשָׁפַכְתִּי חֲמָתִי עָלֶיהָ בְּדָם לְהַכְרִית מִמֶּנָּה אָדָם וּבְהֵמָה:
    (כ) וְנֹחַ דנאל דָּנִיֵּאל וְאִיּוֹב בְּתוֹכָהּ חַי אָנִי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְקֹוִק אִם בֵּן אִם בַּת יַצִּילוּ הֵמָּה בְצִדְקָתָם יַצִּילוּ נַפְשָׁם: פ

  6. Excellent analysis as usual. However, even you except that idea that learning acts as some sort of shield his argument, like all of these arguments, are completely flawed.

    First, none of the suggestions for universal service include ONLY army service. They all include community service.

    Second, ALL of the plans include an exemption for "elite" learners, most in the thousands. So at no time, ever, is anyone suggesting that "the sound of Torah should be silenced".

    Third, even if the remaining "bochrim" all did some type of service it certainly could be arranged in the manner of Hesdar where only a fraction of any age group is serving at a given time. Again, meaning that Israel would always remain protected by learning.

    Unfortunately, what this shows, and its typical of these arguments, is frantic attempt to maintain an untenable status quo through specious arguments.

  7. Moshe, your comments show an ignorance of facts and are insulting to the many Shomer Mitzvos yidden who serve in the IDF, including in very high ranks.

    BE"H, when my son finishes his service on a "mixed" patrol ship, he will have become an even bigger mensch, a person who knows how to be responsible for himself and others, a person who cares about Klal Yisrael and appreciates what all yidden in Israel have in common.

    Because of him and the other "Bnei Yeshiva" on the ship, the ship's kitchen is kosher, "complying fully with Halacha", meaning that all the guys there not only eat kosher food, not only cook kosher food, but also learn to keep a kosher kitchen, G-d willing in their own homes when the time comes.

    And the young man who is his captain, who grew up in a completely secular home, and calls himself an atheist, will have served and lived with a bunch of menschlich Shomer Mitzvos guys, who are trustworthy, mature, responsible, and respectful.

    You'd rather he be a "draft dodger". No thank you.

  8. Even if one were to accept the dubious notion that learning protects society, the author of this article clearly shows his woeful ignorance as to how the world functions. If a democratically elected government backed by a clear majority of the populace adopts a policy, it is totally irrelevant what any minority group thinks or believes.

    Imagine if I created a community and we advocated and insisted on not paying our income taxes because we believed it was detrimental to do so. How far would that fly.

    It’s certainly no different here.

  9. I always thought the peace and protection that came from Torah scholars wasn't mystical or metaphysical. It makes a lot of sense that having people versed in our tradition and wisdom would help out in a very physical and rational sense. They could be advisors who preach the importance of peace and why it's worth fighting for. They could help instill Jewish pride in the soldiers. They can facilitate kosher food and remind the soldiers they're still human and should behave humanely. Army life doesn't have to be secular- it can be holy. Soldiers can be scholars and scholars can be soldiers.

  10. All of the examples that Rav Gyrlak put forward were of exceptional tzaddiim and I would not debate that. However the subject here is kollel for the masses. All of those examples including Rav Chiya and the exhortation from chazal about from the gemora are inapplicable. Again Rav Chiya and the talmidei chachamim that chazal are talking about were exceptional individuals.

  11. The merit of Tora learning is certainly taken into consideration when Hashem makes decisions as are othe merits and demerits. The problem is that only a small percentage are really learning on that level.

  12. Chanokh Tyler Berenson, I find you comment condescending in a way that is typical of religious people who believe themselves superior and more moral than non-religious people. Taking you points one at a time.
    You don't need to study religious texts in order to "preach the importance of peace and why it's worth fighting for".
    By virtue of growing up in and serving in an army of the Jewish State, soldiers are instilled with Jewish Pride.
    It doesn't need torah scholars to remind the soldiers they're still human and should behave humanely.
    How does kosher food improve the soldiers' well-being and ability to serve?

  13. The following was published by R' Aharon Lichtenstein on exemptions for yeshiva students (Tradition, Fall 1985) where he presents a very compelling argument against draft exemptions:

    Finally, even if we grant that the Rambam's statement does imply a categorical dispensation in purely halachic terms, it remains of little practical significance. We have yet to examine just to whom it applies. A levi [sic] is defined genealogically. Those who are equated with him, however, literally or symbolically, are defined by spiritual qualities; and for these the Rambam sets a very high standard indeed. He present an idealized portrait of a selfless, atemporal, almost ethereal person - one whose spirit and intelligence have led him to divest himself of all worldly concerns and who has devoted himself "to stand before God, to serve Him, to worship Him, to know God; and he walks aright as the Lord has made him and he has cast off from his neck the yoke of the many considerations which men have sought." To how large a segment of the Torah community - or, a fortiori, of any community - does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five Percent? Can anyone confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not to go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum, in the Rambam's terms? Can anyone with even a touch of vanity or a concern for kavod contend this? Lest I be misunderstood, let me state clearly that I have no quarrel with economic aspiration or with normal human foibles per se. Again, least of all do I wish to single out b'nei yeshivot for undeserved moral censure. I do feel, however, that those who would single themselves out for saintliness should examine their credentials by the proper standard

    In essence, RAL's point is that requires a tremendous amount of hubris for a person to say that my learning is so important that I don't need to go to the army and fight, especially when in many other areas the person doesn't show such great faith (as RAL describes). It is very nice for a person to say that they are joining Shevet Levi, but who says that they were accepted?

    This is even more relevant today because very few 18 year olds are really choosing to be in Shevet Levi. When the exemption started most people served in the army and therefore to get an exemption meant making a conscious decision to dedicate yourself to learning Torah. Today it is just the opposite. All Charedim in Israel are simply assumed to be learning and there is tremendous societal pressure to do so. Anyone who chooses to not learn is an outcast, off the derech and looked down upon. Therefore to say today that all of these 18 year olds are joining shevet levi is simply not true. They are simply doing what society expects of them.


  14. I added the following paragraph to p. 1:

    And what is the extent of the protection? Is there a linear increase with each additional person who is learning? Nobody is proposing that yeshivos be shut down, chas v’shalom; just that most (but not all) yeshivah students divide their time between Torah study and army service. Would this risk danger, when the number of students in yeshivah and kollel is constantly rising?

  15. Here's how the end of last week's Parsha must read according to Mishpacha...

    "Amalek came and battled Israel in Rephidim... And it was when all of Israel picked up their books, they would prevail, and when they put down their books, Amalek would prevail."

    Now in all fairness, I imagine R. Grylak would say of course we have to defend ourselves. I don't think he'd recommend shutting down the IDF and sending everyone to learn. Which means he's essentially saying: Let everyone else have no choice but to put their lives on the line, while black-hat yeshiva bochurim get to live as they normally do, fighting the "real battle" in the comfort of the beit midrash. And even though they curse the State and the Army, and their hearts and prayers are everywhere but with their brothers and sisters on the front lines, let them think they are the "real heroes" on the battlefield and take all the credit for any victories.

    Not an ounce of support or gratitude for the IDF - just self-righteousness and self-satisfaction. Is that the mark of talmidei chachamim?

    So as an alternative to "Draft-Dodgers or Deserters", I might be inclined to call this thinking "Reckless or Reprehensible". (Reckless if they'd have everyone stop fighting and learn Torah; reprehensible if it's only one segment of the population - conveniently, themselves - which doesn't have to fight.)

  16. Sorry, one more addendum: If people want to be sincere and conscientious about the belief in the protection provided by Torah study and the need for yeshiva deferments, let them say the following:

    1. Let a secular Jew who's never had the chance to learn come and take MY place in the beit midrash, and let ME join the army for a while.

    2. Let representatives from every draft-deferred yeshiva take shifts learning at a local army base, and learn with and teach the troops.

    3. Let all draft-deferred yeshivot fly the flag of the State (or at least the IDF flag, or SOME sign of support) outside, and say the misheberach for the IDF (or at least tehillim after the davening).

    4. Let roshei yeshiva regularly give over divrei Torah which teach the bochurim a sense of responsibility, love and hakarat hatov for their fellow Jews in harm's way.

    In other words, I think part of what really bothers people about the deferment is not just the non-participation in the fighting. It's the ATTITUDE that comes with it. The lack of caring. The aloofness. The disdain. The utter kafuy tova. The "magia li" attitude.

    If there were a genuine "We're with you" effort made, this would go a VERY long way. And THAT in my opinion is what R. Grylak and others should be opining about!

  17. RNS i asked my Rebbi your question why if we yeshiva bochurim believe Torah protects why yeshivos moved out of Ashdod
    His reply was very straight foward: we believe it protects yet at the end of the day hashem still wants us to do hishtadlus. He further explained when i travel from Philly to Lakewood do i unbuckle my seat belt after Teffilas Haderech? if i believe prayer works why buckle up? We need to do our hishtadlus.
    I felt this is such a clear & consice response it may help you guys who seem confused on the issue.
    Now i can already hear your questions forming....why dont we do the hishtadlus and serve in the IDF.
    The answer to this is so simple i didnt need my Rebbis help.
    When i need my eye sorting out i go to optician, my toe to a chiropodist etc etc so when the questions arises how to finely tune hishtadlus with limmud torah I rely on our Leaders whom have more knowledge & authority on this
    issue far more than a 35 year old zoologist.
    Rabbi i really dont mean to put you down, but you need to know where your experience lies.

  18. Ben Torah, what your rebbe said makes no sense in this context.

    Of course nobody believes that these things work 100%.

    But the question is, does learning Torah work less well at protection than serving in the army, or equally well?

    If it works less well, then go to the army.

    And if it works equally well, then the hishtadlus that Torah soldiers have to do is to apply this Torah-protection where it is needed!

    If you are a medic, and helping someone requires taking off your seatbelt in the ambulance, then you do so!

    You say that your rebbe has more knowledge about how to apply hishtadlus than me. If that's the case, then it should be very easy for him to respond.

  19. Ben Torah,

    "When i need my eye sorting out i go to optician, my toe to a chiropodist etc etc so when the questions arises how to finely tune hishtadlus with limmud torah I rely on our Leaders whom have more knowledge & authority on this
    issue far more than a 35 year old zoologist.
    Rabbi i really dont mean to put you down, but you need to know where your experience lies."

    Because of this revealing comment at the end of your response to R' Slifkin I suspect that you probably didn't even present the views in this post accurately to your rebbi.
    I challenge you to print out the full PDF of R' Slifkin's views on this matter, ask you rebbi to respond "al rishon rishon v'al achron achron" like a talmid chacham should and report back.

  20. From my limited perception, the IDF is bending over backwards to make programs suitable for charedi guys. The son of a friend of mine has started his army service--I understand that he is serving in something called שחר לבן, where they have trained him to work in intelligence, with other frum bochurim. The conditions are excellent, where he pretty much gets to go home every night, working at it like a 9 to 5 job.

    The problem is, I think, that charedim have a suspicion it is like the פה-רך that Pharaoh used to get the Jews to work in Egypt--with the ultimate intent of dissolving charedi society.

  21. Ben Torah,

    It is good to see that you dont need your Rebbe to answer all your questions for you. So try to really think about the one indirectly posed by the zoologist: which is a chilul hashem and which is a kiddush hashem - a torah institution running away from the front lines leaving thousands of fellow jews to their fates or a torah institution staying (or moving in) to support and help the jews that cannot leave en masse?

    I think your (and your Rebbe's) response and the original post by Rabbi Moshe Grylak suffer from the same problem: Yeshivish Devrei Torah should remain in the yeshivish world and not be applied to real world life or death situations. It rubs those that live in those situations the wrong way.

  22. Where can I find the Radvaz who limits the gemara's ruling about Rabanan not needing shemira?

  23. I got here through a link from "rav tzair" (google it)

    I think that the fact that the Hareidim don't serve in the army is acceptable just like the fact that this disucussion is made mainly from overseas and not from Israel. You guys also have excuses why not making Aliyah right away, just like the Hareidi people have excuse for not serving in the IDF. הצד השווה שבהן is that if you don't want to do something for various spiritual-philosophical reasons, you can sometimes find great logical excuses.

    For me, both are acceptable. But I believe in a different way

  24. I did not go back to my rebbi but i am really surprised at all your questions, they seem so shallow to me.
    Firstly, it is ludicrous to suggest that we should stay in the firing line, surely chazal teach us one is not allowed to stand in a makom sakona. Hence we do what previous generations did (like Mir escaping to Shanghai, Rambam went from Fez to Egypt etc etc) and when a yeshiva or Talmid Chochom is in danger you make a run.
    On RNS's point if Torah protection works less well or equally well than army "lo michochma shoaloh es zos" as when diccussing metaphysical zchusim there are no clear definations that we mortals can understand. We believe it works but leave it up to the Borei to decide when and how.
    And rabbi slifkin i first thought you were making an early Purim joke by quoting that Radvaz, as you yourself in your response to rabbi Grylak lamented how people dig up sources!
    So, as a proud ben torah who is returning now to the most intellectual book ever written - the Shev Shmatza i bid you all farewell. Shalom Shalom


  25. you are not allowed to stand in a makom sakanah - when it is for no good reason.

    But if you are a soldier, trying to protect your people, then you are OBLIGATED to stand in a makom sakanah in order to accomplish this protection.

    So are yeshivah students accomplishing protection, or not?

  26. Oh and as an afterthought, why i am careful in the chazal of not standing in makom sakona yet do not listen to chazal about supporting ones family, i will admit i do not know the answer.
    But what i can say is that there are men in Bnei Brak, Lakewood and Gateshead whom have spent over half a century delving into Jewish Law.
    Since they seem to say its ok i rely on them in the same way as i would rely on a non jewish lawyer to interpret civil law. Its that simple!
    But the question is now on you folk, why are you so careful on supporting your families yet tend to ignore Ben Shmone Esreh Lchupa? Can each jew just decide for himself when to apply what?
    I feel good within myself that i have the maturity to treat Judaism like i would treat any other field in life and take advice from the proffesionals in that field....but you guys seem to lack that maturity & just flutter in the wind towards the direction your comfortable.
    C'mon guys i would have expected a more mature perception from yourselves.
    Now if you will allow me i need to return to Shmatza Vav......

  27. Judaism is not a PROFFESSION!!!
    It's something every jew should live. Hiding behind "what the gdolim said" for things you discuss, takes you out of discussion, which makes it meaningless to reply here. The idea is trying to understand what really is the Torah's hashkafa on this subject, not prove that there are gdolim who say what's easy for you

    The Gdolim are in fact the experts, yet alot of Gdolim say that Jews SHOULD protect themselves with physical army.

  28. To Kira- How do you know what your son is doing there and to what he is being exposed to? A Jewish army is to be holy and everyone knows that such environments where men and women mix often produces negative results. Just check the abortion rates of young females in the I.D.F.!
    How do you know what he will come back as? Anyway even if your son is doing great (and this is what almost all parents think of their children) the statistics show the opposite. Most people became less and even anti-religious as a whole because of the influences of the State and those who control it. Something like 80% of people who came to Israel were religious, but because of the influences of institutions like the I.D.F., the State, Media, "education" etc. their are many hilonim today.
    Also to the mamlachtim you are blind when it comes to the state and I.D.F. it was the IDF that threw Jews out of their homes in Gush Katif, did you all forget that? Soo even if you want to fight and protect Jews (which is great) who said one has to join the IDF for such a mission. If anything perhaps with the IDF the OPPOSITE will be accomplished. Actually a HILLUL HASHEM!

  29. Ben Torah is finally making a coherent argument. In sum, says Ben Torah, there is no good reason, logical explanation, coherent religious philosophy, or legal justification for anything he does. It is simply Daas Torah. The Gedolim make the law.

    Ben Torah,
    Getting married at 18 is NOT a hiyyuv. It is Talmudic advice based on certain social circumstances which no longer apply. You know what else is not to be interpreted as a strict halachah? The notion that sitting in kollel provides metaphysical protection!

    What the Gemara means is that Torah defines and sustains the Jewish people and a people without a soul will not survive very long. It does NOT literally mean that every 18 year old haredi with a hat magically protects the State of Israel (a State which, like the Palestinians, they do not acknowledge as legitimate) by sitting with a Shmatza.

  30. "ben torah" - In other words you have no answer you are just trusting certain people you consider gedolim... Best way to put a dead end to a conversation without having to give an intelligent response.

  31. To James & Ploni.
    You did not understand/wish to understand my piece.
    When i follow Daas Torah its not because i am dumb. Its because i am mature enough to understand that in the same way we allow a lawyer to interpret civil law, a Godol who has been studying jewish law for decades should also have the right to interpret jewish law. And if like Shlome said some Gedolim say one must serve, then i have absoloutely no problem for their followers to follow their leaders.
    And Ploni i admitted in front of the world that i do not have an answer for something, your right i may not be intellegent but at least i occupy the moral high ground for being honest and dont start twisting Chazals to suit my agenda like some on this blog do when they feel caught in a tight spot.
    So as a proud Ben Torah (or Jewish Law student if the former term makes you cringe) i wish you all well, I have finished my shmatza and ready for a new day in my Battalion of 600 18 year olds, a Battilion that has been around for 2 millenia to protect the Jewish Nation. Shalom Shalom.


  32. ...A battalion that flees at the first sign of danger, leaving the real soldiers to do the protection!

  33. Before the recent elections, I saw a flyer containing quotes from the higher-ups in UTJ and Shas, how they will accede gradually, getting more and more bochurim in the army. (The flyer was trying to say not to give your vote to these "traitors", if you want to keep your children frum.)

    Then again, if a lot of charedi guys go at once to the army, it'll be easier to maintain a high level of Torah observance.

  34. ben torah raises an interesting issue, will reliance on someone else be a credible defense against a charge of doing the wrong thing even if in your heart you know it's questionable? Of course in a debate "reliance on expert opinion" pretty much leads to a dead end.
    Joel Rich

  35. Ben Torah, I didnt think it was nice how you made fun of RNS in calling some of his response Purim Torah, however i must admit you did put over some very persuasive arguments.
    Your point on comparing Gedolim to top notch lawyers made sense to me, kol hakovod, but please in future you can bring out the same message in a softer tone

  36. How about Korach's 250 followers, why did they get in trouble? Weren't they following their rov?

  37. Thanks for that link, just been through the whole piece, it definately makes interesting reading however in my view and i really dont like judging you negatively, but it has undertones of a pre-conceived mindset. As i was reading it i just didnt feel you approached the subject with an open mind.
    Dont get me wrong, i have a brother (kippa seruga) in the army and i fully support him, all i was saying was that ben tora put foward some strong arguments which i feel just made the debate more interesting when one hears the approach of the other side.


  38. I find it interesting that Ben Torah's Gedolim also say that it's forbidden to use the Internet - and certainly to visit this blog! - yet he ignores them on that.

  39. Ben Torah said: “But what i can say is that there are men in Bnei Brak, Lakewood and Gateshead whom have spent over half a century delving into Jewish Law.”

    Mr BT, Let me clue you in and it’s a fact of life. Delving, learning and even knowing Torah for 100 years, studying day and night, does NOT necessarily a great Posek make.

    To be a good Posek, minimally and I say minimally, requires being able to balance two (or more) sides of a scenario which usually have competing interests, and deciding the most important tack to take as the final p'sak.

    Well, since all too many great Talmidei Chakhomim of today don’t educate themselves in science or how society functions, or many other aspects of secular knowledge, IMHO, makes them totally ineligible to be poskim at any level, never mind so-called “gedolim”.

    Sorry, Mr. BT you have chosen a foolish approach to life.

  40. Ben torah,
    Unless you are Rabbi Grylak hiding behind the name "ben torah" you would do well being the next editor of Mishpacha.
    You put forward the charedi approach in such a clear and consice way, the responses you got were non persuasive filled with emotion rather than reason. i have made a copy of it to show my Seed partner (uk eqivalent of Aish)
    Kol Hakovod

  41. Worf,

    Are you still following this thread? Where did I say that Tzahal lacks understanding of the importance of peace and why it's worth fighting for? Where did I say they do not have Jewish pride? Where did I say that we need Torah scholars to remind soldiers of their humanity?

    I never made any claim of superiority, only mutual benefit.

    Is it so anathema to you that Torah scholars might help the Jewish Army?

  42. Ben Torah,

    The contention that the haredi exemptions offer protection to the entire state is objectively false.

    The two most miraculous victories (48 and 67) came at a time when there were only a few exemptions. In '48, everyone fought. By '67 the total number of exemptions was only around 400.

    As that number has skyrocketed, Israel has done progressively worse. Lebanon I and II, the Gaza Wars, the Intifadas.

    I just dont see the same level of protection.

  43. Ze'ev:

    I would like to comment on some facts mentioned in the Mishpaha's article. Rav Grylak said that Nazi's (m"sh) couldn't conquer Grodno while Rav Shkop was alive, but according to Wiki and some other sources I was able to find it seems that Rav Shkop ordered his yeshiva to flee to Vilnus (aka Vilna)before Russian army entered Grodno. But Nazi's didn't started war again USSR until June 22d 1941... BTW Vilna has been captured by Nazis on June 24th 1941 and Grondo later on. So the bottom line is that Rav Shkop's death has nothing to do with protecting town of Grodno from Nazis simply because in 1939 Nazis were no where near of Grodno. More then that is seems the reason that Rav ordered his yeshiva to flee to Vilna was mainly due to his fear that Russians may order him to close yeshiva, so he maybe felt that Vilna maybe be better a better place for that reason.
    So the article is just another "fine" example of "Daas Torah" propaganda that I continue to see in Israel and elsewhere.

  44. Again, story about Vilna and Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski is historically completely incorrect: Vilna region has been a dispute territory between Poland and Soviet Russia while Nazi troops were not in the picture until June 24th 1941, when they physically captured the city.
    Rav Grodzinski passed away in August of 1940, at that time Vilna has been part of Lithuanian SSR (aka part of USSR) since 1939.
    With all due my respect to the memory of Rav Grodzinski, Rav Grylak claim that "they were able to shield their cities from the Nazis as long as they were alive" is a bit of a stretch to put it lightly...

    Twisting historical facts to try to fit anti-draft agenda is not
    just desecrate memories of these true Gdolim, but doing mamash hilul Hashem.


  45. To be a good Posek, minimally and I say minimally, requires being able to balance two (or more) sides of a scenario which usually have competing interests, and deciding the most important tack to take as the final p'sak.

    I would add that the posek should be both experienced and sensitive to the socioecconomic impacts of the psakim.

    Have you ever wondered why academic economist are not politicians. It's the difference between theory and practice. The best medical researchers are not automatically the best medical practitioners (indeed they need not even have the same qualification.) Asking a theoretician practical questions is a major part of the problem, just ask Sheldon Cooper.

  46. The article from Mishpacha was one of the most insulting articles I've read in a long time.

    Too difficult to respond in a comment - I needed a whole blog post to express the flawed logic:


  47. "Twisting historical facts to try to fit anti-draft agenda is not
    just desecrate memories of these true Gdolim, but doing mamash hilul Hashem."

    Its even worse. The implied message is that Rav Elchonon Wasserman and other Gedolim who died al kiddush hashem were just not good enough to fend off the Nazis.

  48. Perhaps an interesting observation can be made regarding the idea that Torah leaning protects Israel like the army does: Israel's greatest victories occurred during its earlier decades when the kollel population was low, while the current, more troubled era parallels the spread of kollelim! It seems Israel was more secure when there were FEWER people learning!

  49. R' Slifkin,

    Let me preface this by saying that I disagree with the draft-dodging. Nevertheless, I recognize that charedim think it is wrong to fight in the army. They think they might be forced to violate halachos of minyan, shabbos, etc. etc. (I know why this is halachically not a problem, but I think you can step into their shoes and see it from their point of view.)

    Once we establish that they think it's wrong to fight in the army, whether or not they believe that learning protects everyone, there is not much choice left for them but to learn in kollel or get a demeaning, low-level job that doesn't pay much more than a kollel stipend.

    Now I'll readily admit that I am an American outsider (post-charedi), so you know the Israeli law and politics better than I. But as far as I know, charedim who don't join the army cannot get jobs. So their only choice is to stay in kollel and pretend like they are in kollel to protect the Israelis from bombs by learning.

    See here -


  50. There's a lot of truth to what you write, and I wrote something similar at the end of my article. But let them be honest about why they don't serve!

  51. R. Slifkin,

    I don't agree with your logic:

    Nobody who believes that learning protects claims that it "literally" performs the same as an Iron Dome. The claim is that it tilts the scales, it "helps" the army be successful. That is why no chareidi would suggest disbanding the army and only relying on Torah learning.

    That being the case, you cannot suggest that someone learning should go learn at the front line, just like a soldier does.

    Again, the claim is that the learners help the soldiers be successful. But they cannot fight back, so they should not be in harm's way!


  52. The claim is that it provides protection where they are. So they should be in the towns that require it. Besides, other people stay in those towns, why can't they?

  53. Chanokh Tyler Berenson, you obviously didn't understand what you wrote.

  54. I think the opening line of his explanation is quite telling as to how the process of Hareidi decisions are made "In my humble opinion -- and, I believe, in the opinion of gedolei Yisrael".
    Glyn Willmoth

  55. Hey slifkin,
    When did you serve?? and where?

    Do you actually consider yourself a frum jew? I dont understand you people. You all hate the charedim, you write articles against them (and publish them to the chiloni public), you find a thousand sources to twist to prove you're right, and you, at the end of the day cause massive chillulei H'. and guess what the main thing that confuses me is: You do it in the name of Ahavas Yisrael and Achdus!!

    How does that make sense??? Please explain your ridiculous views!


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