Thursday, May 30, 2013

Letter to Yated

To the Editor:

In “The Identity of the Israeli People is at Stake - Understanding the Current Situation in Eretz Yisroel" (Wednesday, May 08, 2013), Rabbi Moshe Meiselman cites the Netziv as stating that the greatest defense of the country is our learning of Torah. To this it can be added that in Haamek Davar to Bereishis 49:14, Netziv notes that the tribe of Yissacher were not suited to war, and studied Torah instead.

However, Rabbi Meiselman omitted to mention the Netziv's views regarding those who are defending Eretz Yisrael with their Torah. In Haamek Davar to Devarim 33:18 he notes that they must actually accompany the soldiers to study Torah and pray at the front line (presumably either because the protective force of Torah is geographically concentrated, or in order to boost the morale of the soldiers). This is in marked contrast to the charedi community, which never sends any Torah scholars to the front lines, and in fact evacuated yeshivos during the Gaza conflict from the South to Bet Shemesh and Bnei Brak.

Furthermore, in Haamek Davar to Bereishis 49:15, Netziv states that Torah scholars who do not serve in the army must pay higher monetary taxes to support the military. He also states that they are to be available for whatever purposes the nation requires (i.e. some sort of national service).

This is fascinating, in light of Netziv's belief that learning Torah provides the primary protection. If they are providing the primary protection, why do they have to pay higher military tax and provide other services to the nation? Perhaps the Netziv recognized that you can't claim to be sharing the burden when you're not putting yourself out in a way that meaningfully matches the sacrifices made by others.

56 comments:

  1. Good catch. This will never get published, though...

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  2. Insightful and incisive as always, Rav Slifkin. Probably a good thing you published it for us here though, because goodness knows it will never see the light of day over at the Yated...

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  3. Amaratzus, as befits an am haaretz. Do you seriously mean to equate a milchemes mitzva under the leadership of the great leaders of the day, possibly with an aron and with guidance of the urim v'tumim, to today's Israel army?

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  4. Empty points and personal insults, as befits a charedi polemicist.

    Do you seriously mean to equate the protection offered by the Torah study of Shevet Levi and Yissacher to the Torah study of today's yeshivah students?

    And/or:
    What on earth does your distinction have to do with the Netziv's requirements?

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  5. @Eli

    "Amaratzus, as befits an am haaretz. Do you seriously mean to equate a milchemes mitzva under the leadership of the great leaders of the day, possibly with an aron and with guidance of the urim v'tumim, to today's Israel army?"

    That's not even an argument. The fact that you have to insult someone who has a different hashkafa from you shows how incapable you are of arguing your case. Why isn't this a milchemet mitzva, trying to save Jews from enemies who daily try to kill people? Your issue is purely a hashkafic one, having nothing to do with halacha and certainly not awareness of halacha.

    To RNS: I have a somewhat off-topic question that does tangentially relate to the post. I realize that much of your criticisms of Haredi excuses vis-a-vis the draft are primarily meant to expose the false arguments or hypocrisy. But today's post highlights a salient question. What is the basis - today at least - of an obligation to serve in the army, and what does that obligation imply? Specifically, are Haredim (or any other Jews for that matter) obligated to serve because they are citizens of the state and therefore are responsible (dina d'malchuta dina?), or as Jews per se? What if they lived in Hutz laaretz - or actually moved there as they like to threaten to do? Are Jews in hutz laaretz obliged to come to Israel to serve in the army? Are American Haredim (or British for that matter) pattur because they don't live here and because their native countries have no draft? Arguably, the obligation to serve militarily depends on one's hashkafic view of Zionism/Eretz Yisrael b'zmanenu. If there is an obligation to live in EY today and Zionism is a meaningful fulfillment of that requirement, all Jews - even those in Hutz laaretz are obliged to come and to serve (and stay even afterwards). Otherwise, why should Haredim here be any more obliged to serve to protect other Jews (and here I'm playing devil's advocate) than Jews living abroad? The sources you have cited, which emphasize the idea of milchemet mitzva, would imply an obligation on all Jews - even those living in the diaspora. Also, and I think more relevantly, the sort of threats facing Israel on a daily basis are not really a milchemet mitzva, at least not in the sense that the halacha related to wars. Today's threats are mostly localized incidents involving a handful of terrorists or a single missile or morta attack. This is not the sort of war conceived of by hazal, whereby an entire nation threatens Israel with a large mobilized army at its border. Requiring a full mobilization of Israel's entire (Jewish) population for every daily threat is both unnecessary and impossible. The halacha clearly was written in the context of the occassional large military confrontation, not the kind of daily, low level conflict common from the mid-20th century onwards. Given this, what is the basis for a Jew's personal obligation to serve, and how would it A) relate to Jews in hutz laaretz, and B) be depedent on hashkafa rather than pure halacha? criticism of Haredi positions

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  6. Check out my latest comments on another absurd editorial from the publisher of the Yated:

    http://pinnysworld.blogspot.com/2013/05/pinnys-latest-rant.html

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  7. Adam from ManchesterMay 31, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    RNS one - RMM nil !

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  8. In the original article R' Meiselman references a YNET article.

    From that article he quotes "the government would not undermine, in any way, the religious consciousness or religious conscience of any part of the Jewish nation."

    What he leaves out is the next paragraph in that same YNET article which is "With regard to education, however, Ben-Gurion insisted on adding a condition: "The state will determine a minimum standard of compulsory education, including Hebrew language, history, science, etc., and monitor compliance with this standard, although each stream will be granted full autonomy to organize education in keeping with its conscience."

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  9. Meiselman quote mining?!?!?! Get out of town. That is so SHOCKING.

    Let's be honest, there is so much literature out there that I bet you could find someone that says learning protects the country more than anything else. The real point is WHO CARES! The point is this, by Charaidim living in Israel and not even participating in national service like religious daati leumi girls they are performing a MASSIVE Chillul Hashem. That is more important than anything else.

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  10. @Dawidh

    I hear what you are saying about Milchemet Mitzvah being framed in the context of a large military confrontation. However, wouldn't you agree that the deterrent of that large military confrontation, would still qualify the military presence as Milchemet Mitzvah?

    Put another way, I don't think there's any reasonable doubt that if Israel did not have a sizable standing army, that enemy forces would be mobilized at its border. Do you have to first lay down your arms, put yourself in predictable danger, to qualify the service a milchemet mitzvah?

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  11. Eli, of course it's a milchemet mitzva. Go learn a little before you insult people.

    Dawid, interestingly, R' Lichtenstein says that, yes, indeed, every Jewish man around the whole has a chiyuv to come to Israel and serve in the army.

    A better question would be: What makes charedim, as charedim, entitled to this more than anyone else? Just because of what they were born into, or what hat they wear? Even assuming that someone has to learn, why them?

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  12. @ahg

    "However, wouldn't you agree that the deterrent of that large military confrontation, would still qualify the military presence as Milchemet Mitzvah?

    Put another way, I don't think there's any reasonable doubt that if Israel did not have a sizable standing army, that enemy forces would be mobilized at its border. Do you have to first lay down your arms, put yourself in predictable danger, to qualify the service a milchemet mitzvah?"

    There's definitely a need for a military - though remember Israel relies primarily on its reserves for the deterrent effect, since it cannot possibly maintain a large enough standing army to fight its likely opponents (ie Egypt, Syria, and once upon a time Iraq). There's also definitely a need for a standing army, mostly to deal with the low-level but persistent terrorist threat. But in any case, the situation today doesn't really fit into either the situation relating to milchemet mitzva or milchemet reshut. Those two kinds of war are fit for two specific situations which are wholly different from what Israel - and I think most other countries as well - faces today. A milchemet mitzva obligates the entire population (not just people of draft age 18-21, but literally everyone) to literally drop everything and either fight or directly contribute to the war effort until the war is over - relating to the sort of "total war" Carl von Clausewitz envisioned and more or less what took place during the two world wars. But that's an extreme that isn't relevant to our predicament of a sustained low flame conflict, being neither helpful nor feasible. This is where my question comes in: relying on the concept of milchemet mitzva seems weak and anachronistic to me; there is a need for a significant military but not one involving every single able bodied person ala an "obligatory war"; so what is the basis for obliging service? More importantly, since we need not and really cannot keep everyone mobilized for the duration of the endless terror wars against Israel, what is the mechanism for deciding who goes and who does not?

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  13. @Nachum

    "Dawid, interestingly, R' Lichtenstein says that, yes, indeed, every Jewish man around the whole has a chiyuv to come to Israel and serve in the army."


    Why only Jewish men? Milchemet mitzva obliges everyone, even the "kallah mehupatha", to come be directly involved in the war effort. And the obligation would remain on all Jews so long as the the situation of war remains, effectively decreeing a lifetime of service on every Jew in the world. I think that the halacha of milchemet mitzva is kind of selectively used today, and that it relates to a wholly different kind of situation. An alternative delineation of obligations is necessary, IMHO.

    "A better question would be: What makes charedim, as charedim, entitled to this more than anyone else? Just because of what they were born into, or what hat they wear? Even assuming that someone has to learn, why them?"

    There are definitely many good arguments that could be made as to why Haredim, even if the halacha of milchemet mitzva is not relevant, as an entire population should not be given special exemption. My point in the original post was that this is the dialogue that needs to take place; explaining concretely why it is important for them to go. What is the halacha for this different form of war? What is the nature of the obligation to serve and who exactly is obliged? I think that, at the end of the day however, the debate over service is essentially hashkafic. This is partly why it is so difficult to make much headway since Haredim today will never surrender their hashkafa, embrace the state of Israel as athcalta degeula, or view Zionism the way Rav Kook did. Nor is it necessary for them to.

    Personally I think that their excuses for not contributing to the state are a total cop out; they don't really believe they are protecting the state or soldiers on the front via their tefilloth (since they refuse to recite the prayers for the state or army!) by virtue of their learning of mitzvoth. It boils down to the simple fact that Haredim believe that Zionism and the state are irrelevant to them, that its only a matter of Jewish sovereignty - which is to them only symbolic - and not a matter of life or death, or the ability to guide the Jewish people's destiny. "Why should I serve in the army just so the Zionists can maintain their government?". Its the result of a sad disconnect from reality and a total ignorance of how the world works. I think the average Haredi believes Jews would be fine - maybe even better off! - if Israel as a sovereign state were dismantled and the land put under UN administration. There is also a widely expressed sentiment that the Haredim can always go live in Hutz laaretz; that the existence of a Zionist outpost in the middle east is not essential to their well-being - even though of course in reality it is and no country would simply allow them to immigrate en masse. It boils down to their sheer ignorance of the fact they really do need the state of Israel for practical reasons and should thus be involved in its preservation despite the fact that they hashkafic issues with Zionism.

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  14. @Dawidh
    If you didn't have obligatory service, and only those who felt like it/want to serve in the army joined, how long would it be before there was not a big enough reserve force to call upon in time of need? 10-20 years?
    The reserve force that you say (rightfully, methinks) is the main deterrent.
    Therefore I'd say that we must keep up the universal draft, so that after the draftee's 3~ years are up, they will be part of the reserves for the next 24~ years (18-21 and 21-45, if I'm not mistaken on the age at which you're no longer obligated to serve in milu'im).
    Otherwise you've got a smaller professional army, but no reserves of which to speak to call on.

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  15. @Dawidh
    If you didn't have obligatory service, and only those who felt like it/want to serve in the army joined, how long would it be before there was not a big enough reserve force to call upon in time of need? 10-20 years?
    The reserve force that you say (rightfully, methinks) is the main deterrent.
    Therefore I'd say that we must keep up the universal draft, so that after the draftee's 3~ years are up, they will be part of the reserves for the next 24~ years (18-21 and 21-45, if I'm not mistaken on the age at which you're no longer obligated to serve in milu'im).
    Otherwise you've got a smaller professional army, but no reserves of which to speak to call on.

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  16. @Flinn Gaidin
    "If you didn't have obligatory service, and only those who felt like it/want to serve in the army joined, how long would it be before there was not a big enough reserve force to call upon in time of need? 10-20 years?
    The reserve force that you say (rightfully, methinks) is the main deterrent.
    Therefore I'd say that we must keep up the universal draft, so that after the draftee's 3~ years are up, they will be part of the reserves for the next 24~ years (18-21 and 21-45, if I'm not mistaken on the age at which you're no longer obligated to serve in milu'im).
    Otherwise you've got a smaller professional army, but no reserves of which to speak to call on. "

    Who said anything about ending the draft? My point is that it doesn't make sense to cite milchemet mitzva since that obligates immediate, contiuous service by every Jewish adult (arguably even those living abroad) until the war ends. Today only draft age people living in Israel are required to serve, and that service is typically only 2-3 years, regardless of the geopolitical situation. If the halacha of milchemet mitzva were to be applied, every civilian over 13 would be required to enlist and remain until the Arab-Israeli conflict is over.

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  17. Once again, thanks for doing the research and providing the interested public with some truth. If there were a shred of truth and integrity among the haredi rabbinical and political leadership, they would be quoting this too and looking for ways to implement it. Since there isn't, we will presumably continue to hear cherry-picked quotes designed to perpetuate the unfair and parasitical status quo.

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  18. His point about VAT is not true either. The average Chiloni pays much more in VAT since he has more money and consumes more.

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  19. I imagine Eli does normally have more derech eretz than to call people am haaretz, however he probably saw that since Rabbi Slifkin himself on this blog can refer to Gedolim like R Mattisyahu Salamon shlita in most derogatary terms as "his ways are pathetic" Eli must have understood that Rabbi Slifkin who upholds the ideals of derech eretz doesnt consider insulting people as wrong.

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  20. Seems to me that the main point of this blog was to point out the selective use of the Netziv to attack the government and white-wash the Chareidim where it could have been used for the opposite effect. This is a typical tactic- An isolated Midrash is chosen to prove whatever hashkofo a person has already chosen, without taking into account the holistic picture of the entire Torah. If this was the point RNS was trying to make, he appears to have made it well, but in the absense of a defense by the very learned Rav Meiselman, it is prudent not to assume his inability to take into account the holistic picture either. Its a pity that forums like Yated and blogger are limited to certain sides and neither side is able or willing to debate openly with the other.

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  21. Amaratzus, as befits an am haaretz.

    I assume you are talking about Rav Meiselman, since he's the one quoting the Netziv to begin with.

    In my view, fine, lets leave out the whole idea of milmechet mitzvah. Lets just look at the situation with some common sense: Israel faces serious and continuing military threats, and unfortunately, there is a continuing need for young men to serve in the army in order to protect the country from these threats. It is not fair for the haredi public to insist upon an exemption from this obligation, thereby increasing the burden that their fellow Israeli Jews must bear.

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  22. And I love it how he also assumes that a system where nobody works and the "standard" is to buy your children an apartment for hundreds of thosuands of dollars is in any way sustainable.

    As Rav Slifkin has pointed out many times, learning in Kollel is a very selfish decision. You are choosing for your children a life of poverty with all of the ills that go with that - depression, shalom bayis issues, criminal activity, etc.

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  23. Who said anything about ending the draft? My point is that it doesn't make sense to cite milchemet mitzva since that obligates immediate, contiuous service by every Jewish adult (arguably even those living abroad) until the war ends. Today only draft age people living in Israel are required to serve, and that service is typically only 2-3 years, regardless of the geopolitical situation. If the halacha of milchemet mitzva were to be applied, every civilian over 13 would be required to enlist and remain until the Arab-Israeli conflict is over.

    Doesn't that halacha mean that people are obligated *up to* total commitment based on what the leaders of the war ask for in case of Milchemet Mitzva? And in the case of Milchemet Reshut, the halacha limiting what the leaders can ask for? It would be odd to obligate people to commit to more than what is needed to actually prosecute the war.

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  24. > A milchemet mitzva obligates the entire population (not just people of draft age 18-21, but literally everyone) to literally drop everything and either fight or directly contribute to the war effort until the war is over - relating to the sort of "total war" Carl von Clausewitz envisioned and more or less what took place during the two world wars.

    I don’t think that can be the definition of a milchemes mitzvah, because until the advent of industrialized war in the late 19th century – a war where production of arms and munitions is as important to winning as the numbers of soldiers fielded – there was no “total war.” Wars were mostly fought by a professional elite supported by poorly-armed, barely trained levies or by mercenaries. Civilians just tried to stay out of the way.

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  25. I imagine Eli does normally have more derech eretz than to call people am haaretz, however he probably saw that since Rabbi Slifkin himself on this blog can refer to Gedolim like R Mattisyahu Salamon shlita in most derogatary terms as "his ways are pathetic"

    Actually, I doubt Eli remembered that comment.

    But in any case, for the record, what I wrote about Rav Mattisyahu Solomon was that it's pathetic that he used his podium at the siyum haShas to co-opt the Holocaust in order to condemn my books. There is a difference between criticizing a specific deed, and insulting a person.

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  26. On point, from my book:
    ------------------------------

    Bamidbar 31:27- וְחָצִיתָ, אֶת-הַמַּלְקוֹחַ, בֵּין תֹּפְשֵׂי הַמִּלְחָמָה, הַיֹּצְאִים לַצָּבָא--וּבֵין, כָּל-הָעֵדָה
    Some derive from here the principle of dividing the spoils between the soldiers who fought, and the civilians who remained at home. Some even argue from here that those Charedim who stay at home learning have an equal share in any success that the Israeli army may have. I will leave aside for now the strengths and weaknesses of this argument, but one thing is clear. From this verse there is no proof. The soldiers split their half between only twelve thousand people, and were only taxed one out of 500. Thus, their end result was far greater than that of their fellows who remained at home.
    Proof that this was not an exact split can be seen from Samuel I, 30:24 וּמִי יִשְׁמַע לָכֶם, לַדָּבָר הַזֶּה: כִּי כְּחֵלֶק הַיֹּרֵד בַּמִּלְחָמָה, וּכְחֵלֶק הַיֹּשֵׁב עַל-הַכֵּלִים--יַחְדָּו יַחֲלֹקוּ. There, David instituted as a rule that the spoils would be equally divided. (The rule appear to have been only provisional for that battle only, because the others had remained behind to do guard duty.) If the meaning here in Numbers is that there should be an equal division, for what reason would David have had to institute such a rule – it should already have been in place! Rather, the idea that those left behind are also entitled to a share comes from here, but not any such ratio as 50/50. Not also that the division was between those who fought and those who remained on guard - those who did nothing, got nothing.

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  27. @G3"

    I don’t think that can be the definition of a milchemes mitzvah, because until the advent of industrialized war in the late 19th century – a war where production of arms and munitions is as important to winning as the numbers of soldiers fielded – there was no “total war.” Wars were mostly fought by a professional elite supported by poorly-armed, barely trained levies or by mercenaries. Civilians just tried to stay out of the way."

    I think that "war" in ancient terms most likely meant a single battle, rather than a sustained conflict spanning many years. Particularly in a defensive battle or one very close to the nation's borders, full involvement of the entire population for a single battle is possible. In that context the idea of milchemet mitzva makes sense. Otherwise, as you point out, the halachot seem not to fit the time they were established.

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  28. Divrei Hayamim seems to go out of its way to emphasise all the Giborei Chayil from Shevet Yissaschar.

    Before the drashos, remember that
    אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו

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  29. Whoever said that joining the I.D.F. is the way to participate in a Milhemit Misswah? People can do guard duty and such. Also those who are soo prop IDF and cite that as being Milhemit Misswah fail to mention that their is no real requirement to join the IDF, but to fight against the enemies in any way possible. And you are the same people who would condemn a Jew like Baruch Goldstein who was engaging in a Milhemit Misswah in the real sense and not being a duck that the enemies can shoot because of the orders of the I.D.F.
    Please get your facts straight the IDF isn't engaging the a Milhemit Misswah in any real sense. And if it would many of you would probably condemn it (for example killing every adult male for starters, that is Milhemit Misswah) yet I would love to see NS advocate that. If not then what your speaking of is not Milheit Misswah but about being a Mamlachti and doing what the secularists want. (destruction of the Torah world and total control and power).

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  30. Another interesting point no one seems to have picked up on is that the Netziv says that these Talmidei chachomim should pay higher taxes. This surely means that they had a regular income - or what is called in the rest of the world A Job - and were not living off government handouts.

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  31. @Moshe

    And you are the same people who would condemn a Jew like Baruch Goldstein who was engaging in a Milhemit Misswah in the real sense and not being a duck that the enemies can shoot because of the orders of the I.D.F

    Goldstein is a mass murderer. Plain and simple. To even suggest that he was taking part in a Milchemet Mitzvah (only posours pretend to know how the Vav was actually pronounced) is an abomination. It really demonstrates the poor morality of your typical Charedi that you cn't tell the difference.

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  32. Whoever said that joining the I.D.F. is the way to participate in a Milhemit Misswah? People can do guard duty and such.

    I believe that R. Meiselman is defending the status quo where no guard duty is required.

    Also those who are soo prop IDF and cite that as being Milhemit Misswah fail to mention that their is no real requirement to join the IDF, but to fight against the enemies in any way possible.


    Again, that is not what is happening now.

    Also, it can't be a free for all. There has to be an authority to decide who does what and the assignments have to be "fair" if you want people to participate without too much coercion.

    And you are the same people who would condemn a Jew like Baruch Goldstein who was engaging in a Milhemit Misswah in the real sense and not being a duck that the enemies can shoot because of the orders of the I.D.F.

    Yes, I would condemn Baruch Goldstein. Besides the complete lack of morality, his attack was completely ineffective in achieving any kind of security for Israel.

    Soldiering does consist in following lawful orders issued by a command structure under the extreme conditions of combat. Thank God for all the people that have been willing to do that, whatever their motivation was.

    Please get your facts straight the IDF isn't engaging the a Milhemit Misswah in any real sense. And if it would many of you would probably condemn it (for example killing every adult male for starters, that is Milhemit Misswah) yet I would love to see NS advocate that.

    They are defending the nation from it's enemies and not going on campaigns to conquer territory. It is Milchemet Miztvah in that sense. I'm not Tanach expert, but I know enough to know that it was simply not total war all the time.

    If not then what your speaking of is not Milheit Misswah but about being a Mamlachti and doing what the secularists want. (destruction of the Torah world and total control and power).

    Clue: not all IDF are secularists and (my impression is that) many of the most dedicated soldiers are Dati.

    You are right that you can't run an army if you don't have a command structure that is recognized. This is not a Chiddush.

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  33. ArtsVersusScienceJune 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Rabbi S- there was a personal insult aimed at you, but the subsequent argument wasn't devoid of value. I haven't ever seen a blogging site which lived up to its original values as.a forum for rational debate. I also note a pedantic pseudo scholarly judgement of someone's transliteration of Hebrew to English, not withstanding that the original post condoned a murderer of civilians. It makes me despair of the power of reasoned argument, and by extension the somewhat theoretical rationalism of Aristotle and rambam, which fall to give expression to the role of the ego in one's interactions. I do enjoy the way the Talmud sages rile each other, identity emotionally with their rulings, form schools and hierarchical relationships, which persist even today. Some appreciation of the organic nature of reality is needed for a full and rich derech hachaim. Which brings me indirectly to the machlokes of chareidim and daatim today. I think the Torah guardian argument is a smoke screen for the real worry; charedi leaders don't want to relinquish control of their youth to an army command structure . Their totalitarian society cannot admit the smallest crack. But, is daati society with its inability to come to terms with the presence of Arabs in the promised land except in terms of conflict any less destructive? Would there be a need for a large standing army if the hilltops were purged of their youth?

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  34. "Would there be a need for a large standing army if the hilltops were purged of their youth? "

    Yes, of course.

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    1. Isn't this dangerously close to "they all hate us, we don't care" - which leads on to 'the only good Arab is a dead Arab' and the nihilist violence Goldstein style which follows. Surely it is worth working to a medium / longer term negotiated settlement; which would imply an end to the intimidation and expansionism of the fanatics to give talks a chance. The last thing a professional army needs is to be given the job of dealing with the social problems of a marginalised and poorly educated and motivated group. The age of Napoleonic warfare had passed. Quality is more important than quantity.

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  35. You raise interesting and important points, but I'm sorry... the "sharing the burden" lashon is trite and a political buzzword that in part kills your otherwise good point. It's like one of those overused, simplistic and meaningless liberal catchphrases like "end gun violence" or something similar. The burden of proof is on the users to prove that "sharing the burden" is a virtue in and of itself. Instead, how about just arguing for what a ben Torah is supposed to do in the world and what his responsibilities are, instead of falling into the Lapid propaganda scheme?

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  36. Sorry, Moshe, I am not letting further comments through regarding Baruch Goldstein.

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  37. NS- Fascism plain and simple. You lost the argument and have nothing to answer. You don't advocate a milhemit Misswah just an excuse to get at the Haredim.
    What you accuse the Haredim of (silencing you, not participating in dialogue, not engaging in Milhemit Misswah) you yourself practice.

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  38. I'm not banning you from the Internet; you are welcome to open your own blog in which you defend Baruch Goldstein. (But I don't think it would be a very good idea.)

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  39. NS- Neither did the Haredim ban you from the internet. Either way my comments wasn't about the actions of Dr. Baruch G. My comments were directed at you and some of the people here (as demonstrated by themselves) that you aren't really interested in advocating Milhemit Misswah because had you been you would be advocating what the Halacha really says ( for example the comments you didn't allow to be published), therefor you cannot use the excuse of bashing Haredim using an argument you yourself aren't really advocating. Do you get it?

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  40. Soo the real question remains- why do you want the Haredim in the army? (as obviously you yourself don't advocate engaging in a Milhemit Misswah).

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  41. We need a large army. There's no valid reason for charedim not to serve in it.

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  42. " There's no valid reason for charedim not to serve in it."

    How about the fact that it isn't a religious environment and the leaders are secularists? And how could a Jew give credit and respect to a secularist who is anti-Torah?
    Also some of the actions being against Am Yisrael and against the Torah. The Halacha clearly says not to follow evil orders and not to participate in such an entity.
    A Haredi Jew or any Jew for that matter can serve his nation in other ways including guard duty or at least for now in the ideological sphere advocate a Jewish state to replace the regime.

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  43. Ah, you're the person who used to post comments under the name "TzVi," who I eventually had to ban because every comment was about the Evil Leftist Zionists. Sorry, this blog is not for you.

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  44. As a former soldier in the IDF, it isn't an anti-religious environment at all. Half the officers in Golani are religious. I never had to do anything breaking shabbat, kashrut or anything. The army rules make sure that everyone has to go out of their way to accommodate halacha.

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  45. " Anonymous ahg said...

    @Dawidh

    I hear what you are saying about Milchemet Mitzvah being framed in the context of a large military confrontation. However, wouldn't you agree that the deterrent of that large military confrontation, would still qualify the military presence as Milchemet Mitzvah?

    Put another way, I don't think there's any reasonable doubt that if Israel did not have a sizable standing army, that enemy forces would be mobilized at its border. Do you have to first lay down your arms, put yourself in predictable danger, to qualify the service a milchemet mitzvah?"


    Since when does Israel's army need to be larger? I've never seen army officials or govt ministers calling for that or arguing that it's too small and therefore presents a danger unless they expand its ranks. Quite the contrary - all the talk about haredi enlistment has been about liberal codeword, "shared burden." In essence "we don't need haredim in the army, but if we have to serve, then they better serve too!"

    And since you are so convinced of the size of the army playing a role in milchemet mitzvah (but at the same time you don't agree it's a milchemet mitzvah? I don't really follow you), what size are you talking about that would suddenly make it an intimidating force to 50 million arabs surrounding Israel. If it goes from 400,000 strong to 450,000? Or what? Come on, your argument is absurd.

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  46. Since when does Israel's army need to be larger? I've never seen army officials or govt ministers calling for that or arguing that it's too small and therefore presents a danger unless they expand its ranks. Quite the contrary - all the talk about haredi enlistment has been about liberal codeword, "shared burden." In essence "we don't need haredim in the army, but if we have to serve, then they better serve too!"

    And since you are so convinced of the size of the army playing a role in milchemet mitzvah (but at the same time you don't agree it's a milchemet mitzvah? I don't really follow you), what size are you talking about that would suddenly make it an intimidating force to 50 million arabs surrounding Israel. If it goes from 400,000 strong to 450,000? Or what? Come on, your argument is absurd.


    You are not really countering the argument. The argument about Milchemet Mitzvah is that no-one is exempt. Thus even if we grant arguendo that anyone can simply choose to learn and avoid fighting base that Rambam about anyone being like Levi (an argument with little basis), it is of no help because the IDF is not being used to conquer territory or capture slaves. Thus everyone is liable for service.

    You are absolutely right that a standing army is a public good. You get the benefit of the protection even if you don't contribute and don't do anything (as I avoid contributing by sitting in the US at a keyboard). It is absolutely possible to be a "free rider" who gets the benefit without paying any cost.

    Thus, shared burden is not codeword. It is an explicitly honest description: you are getting the benefit of a public good, but not paying the cost; you must also bear some of the cost. Sometimes, this is referred to as "fairness".

    That said, it is also true that at some point, if a high enough percentage of the population exempts itself from both military service and participation in gainful employment, you do run the risk of having an ineffective fighting force and too low of a budget to defend yourself. And it is possible that the demographic trend is leading toward that result, so that having enough people to serve in and pay tax to support the military is an issue in the longer run under the current regime.

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  47. Is there an age limit on milchemet mitzwa? If not, why does the blogger not fight or fight for his right to fight? He may be right technically with regard to the 'learners and prayers going to front line' but Rabbi Meiselman's basic explanation about why chareidim do not go to the army is cogent and well-stated. As we know, Rabbi Meiselman is a talmid chacham but one with who R Slifkin has a bone to pick. Therefore, 'the rationalist' has a yetzer harah to belittle the Rosh Yeshiva. If he learned even one letter from R Meiselman (and even if he didn't) he should treat him with the respect due to an elder, a teacher and a talmid chacham.

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  48. Rabbi Meiselman invoked the Netziv as support for the chareidi approach, whereas in fact the Netziv's approach is radically different from that of the charedi community.

    Furthermore, there was no disrespect in my letter, and I'm not sure why you see any. Unless you think that disagreeing with him is by definition disrespectful?

    (Not that I think that Rabbi Meiselman deserves much respect, in light of his nasty slander.)

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  49. So then you agree with Rabbi Meiselman's explanation that chareidim do not go to the army because of the ulterior motive of stripping them of religion etc.. but just want to defend the Netziv since he was sort of quoted out of context to bolster a position that might not be true to his own philosophy were he to have one about today's situation? Could it be that you are nitpicking and delighting in finding the Rabbi partially quoting the Netziv? I found his explanation to be finally one that clearly expresses why the Roshei Yeshiva are so opposed to army service and compare it to conscription in the czar's army. Both led/lead to the soldiers leaving their religion by design of the conscriptors. It is sad in a "Jewish State" and so sad that the Dati Leumi live in cognitive dissonance and send their children as canon fodder without a real say in how the army is run.

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  50. There are several reasons why charedim don't go to the army. The belief that their Torah is defending the country is not one of them. It's just an excuse. And claiming that the charedi approach is based on the Netziv is simply false.

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  51. "It is sad in a "Jewish State" and so sad that the Dati Leumi live in cognitive dissonance and send their children as canon fodder without a real say in how the army is run."
    It is sad that any Jew has to send his children to fight and possibly be killed or injured. Every combat soldier is "cannon fodder" in the sense that in return for the right to use lethal weapons in defense of Am Yisrael, he submits himself to certain disciplines and to a chain of command, in addition to voluntarily giving up his right to safety.
    And we may not have a religious head of the IDF yet, but the service of high-quality religious soldiers has helped determine policy and create an atmosphere more respectful of שמירת המצוות and שומרי מצוות than there was in the early years of the State. Increased Haredi service in the IDF will only enrich the influence of Torah on the armed forces, and later, in government and industry.
    Together, we are better.

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  52. joey fried
    When Rav Hutner was on the hijacked plane a group of his talmidim wanted to raise funds to try to get his release. They asked Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky if it was permissible? RYK responded that it is not permissible to redeem during a war and the war started in 1948 and had never ended. Unfortunately that very same war is still ongoing.

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  53. > Increased Haredi service in the IDF will only enrich the influence of Torah on the armed forces, and later, in government and industry.

    I just had a scary thought. What if the Chareidim do join the army in large numbers, and go on to be high-ranking officers and then national leaders. What if one day the Israeli Prime mininister and the commander of the IDF are Chareidim, and like all good Chareidim, go to their Rebbe for all major decisions? Then there would be a nuclear regional power run according to religious law.

    There’s already one theocratic state in the region who’s government answers to a religious leader, and the world is rightly concerned that it might go nuclear.

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  54. Dear Mr. Korach (G3) Israel and the Jewish people are destined to be run by Torah law. Your comments show what a hateful apikoris you are, not interested in the best interests of Am Yisrael and only about breaking the backs of the Haredim. First you write that the Haredim must be in the army with the "sharing the burden" nonsense, NOW you write how it would be horrible to have Haredim in the army since they could have a chance to take over?

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  55. Aron , I don’t really care who runs Israel, I don’t hate anyone, am definitely an apikores but confused by your pairing “apikores” with “hateful” as if the two have something to do with each other, don’t care about the Chareidim much, and write stuff here because I enjoy conversing with other intelligent people, not because the issues themselves necessarily matter to me.

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