Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Torah Study and the IDF - A Response to Rabbi Yair Hoffman

(Thanks to the many people who commented at Cross-Currents and from which much of the material here is drawn. I plan to update this post as further input is received.)

I. Introduction

Rabbi Yair Hoffman has published a lengthy article, in both the Five Towns Jewish Times and Cross-Currents, arguing that Torah students should not serve in the IDF. This response is an explanation and a historical overview about the confluence of army service and Torah study. Not everyone, of course, will agree with the explanations and positions set forth here. However, those that do not agree must realize that they do come from a very different socio-religious milieu than those in the Religious Zionist world who have been brought up with and raised with a deep appreciation of Torah values being the only definition of true Jewish life.

Serious-minded Religious Zionist Jews do not merely read the Torah perfunctorily. No. When they read Moshe Rabbeinu's words, “Shall your brothers go out to war, while you remain here?” – they take him seriously. They view the notion of Charedism as a non-traditional and selfish way of life, and not as the fulfillment of any religious ideal.

The previous two paragraphs were arrogant, condescending and offensive. But they were a satire of Rabbi Hoffman's opening paragraphs, which I simply cut-and-pasted and then switched around the relevant terms. Now let's deal with the actual arguments.

II. Crucial Security

Rabbi Hoffman argues that according to Chazal, the full-time Torah study of charedi yeshivah students is crucial in saving the Jewish people, and they therefore should not enter military service. However, Chazal say nothing of the sort. There are indeed scattered statements in Chazal about Torah scholars providing protective merit - but this by no means translates into the claim that every charedi yeshivah student provides crucial merit, much less translating into their being exempt from military service.

First of all, Chazal say nothing about "crucial" protection being provided by "full-time Torah study of yeshivah students." They talk about Torah scholars, not yeshivah students. And who says that a Torah scholar cannot have spent some time doing other things? Nobody is prohibiting boys from returning to yeshiva after army service!

Second, most such statements make it clear that the protection is concentrated in the area where the Torah scholar is. Yet during the Gaza war, charedi leaders ordered yeshivos located in the South to flee for safer towns, abandoning the residents of cities where they were studying. Soldiers don't go where it is safest - they go where their protective abilities are needed! If charedim consider yeshivah students to be soldiers, then they are deserters.

Third, most such statements are referring to protection from all kinds of harm - economic harm and disease as well as military threats. Yet one never sees that the charedi world considers themselves less requiring of help in these areas; if anything, the opposite is true!

Fourth, it's just plain silly to claim that we would lose "crucial protection" if some (and not all) yeshivah students spend some time in the army. Israel triumphed in several wars with only a fraction of the number of yeshiva students that there are today. Yeshivos give their students a month off in Nissan, three weeks off in Tishrei, and three weeks off in the summer - and did so even during the war in the North. If that’s good enough for a fifth of the year, it’s hard to believe that a couple of thousand young men in the army at any given time, while there are tens of thousands still in yeshivah, can cause a crucial security problem.

III. The Sin of Drafting Torah Scholars

Rabbi Hoffman refers to the Gemara in Sotah 10a, Sanhedrin 49a and Nedarim 32a, which speaks about the wrongfulness of drafting Talmidei Chachamim into the army.

First of all, some commentaries explain those cases of wrongfulness of drafting Talmidei Chachamim as being cases of milchemes reshus. Rashi, as Rabbi Hoffman acknowledges, holds that in any milchemes mitzvah, even Torah scholars go to war. It is not clear to me why Rabbi Hoffman tosses Rashi aside.

Second, the sources from the Gemara that Rabbi Hoffman quotes are all aggadata. We do not pasken based on aggadata. In the Mishneh Torah, there is no halachic exemption for Torah students from a milchemes mitzvah.

Third, Rabbi Hoffman is again conflating the term talmidei chachomim with stam yeshiva students. Many yeshiva students, and certainly many charedim, do not spend their entire lives learning Torah. Why can't they spend some time in the army?

Fourth, and relating to the above points, these sources in the Gemara simply could not mean that people studying Torah are exempt from serving in the army. If that was the case, the Torah and the Mishneh Torah would have mentioned such an exemption!

IV. Distorting the Views of Zionist Gedolim

Rabbi Hoffman cites Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook's plea to Rabbi Hertz to secure an exemption for yeshiva students from military service, claiming that "the plea was nearly identical with the pleas of the Chareidi spokespeople today." But nothing could be further from the truth. Rabbi Hoffman neglects to mention that Rav Kook was asking Rabbi Hertz to secure an exemption for yeshiva students from the British army defending Britain, not the Israeli army defending Israel! Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook described such misappropriations of Rav Kook's position as “a distortion and utter falsehood.” He explained that "whereas in England, the demand was that the yeshiva students fight for a foreign army, here we are fighting for our hold on the land of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem. This is undoubtedly a milchemet mitzvah."

Rabbi Hoffman quotes Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook's support of top-tier yeshivos in which students do not serve in the army. But using that to argue in favour of the current Charedi system is akin to claiming that since Harvard produces the best academics, then everyone, including those with no academic aptitude, should not only attend it, but stay in academia forever.

Rabbi Hoffman quotes Rav Shaul Yisraeli regarding the protective value of Torah study. But Rav Yisraeli did not see the protective value of Torah study as ending the argument. He felt that it was unacceptable that an entire sector would not participate in the task of the mitzvah of defending Am Yisrael. Rav Yisraeli felt that this was especially important for people in positions of leadership - which is why his Kollel, Eretz Chemdah, only accepts people that have served in the army.

V. The Manhattan Project Analogy and its Flaws

Rabbi Hoffman presents a lengthy discussion of the Manhattan Project. He claims that just as people involved with the project were not in the armed forces yet provided a crucial protective role, so too yeshivah students provide a crucial protective role without being in the armed forces. But this analogy is seriously flawed.

First of all, it is simply not the case that all charedi yeshivah students are needed to provide a crucial protective role. There is no source for that in Chazal, as discussed above. And charedim do not act as though they are providing a crucial protective role. As discussed above, they don't consider that their Torah study lessens their need for economic aid or military care. And as discussed above, they pull out their troops from the cities where they are needed, and they take vacations even during wartime.

Second, the Manhattan Project was not staffed with simply anyone wanting to join it. The leadership of the country made informed decisions as to which human resources were required and how they were allocated. The charedi community, on the other hand, claim that anyone enrolled in a yeshiva should be exempt from the army - and they show no signs of wanting to draft even those not in yeshiva.

Third, the people working on the Manhattan project were not self-selected. It would have been an unthinkable for an entire state in the US to declare that they were not going to provide any manpower for the army, and would only be prepared to help with the Manhattan Project!

VI. Milchemes Mitzvah and the Issue of Fairness

In a milchemes mitzvah which is a national emergency, everyone goes to war - even a groom from the chuppah, and certainly a Torah scholar. Rabbi Hoffman agrees to this. However, he argues that today we have a different situation - Israel is indeed in a milchemes mitzvah for its ongoing survival, but there is no pressing emergency that requires everyone. As such, he argues, yeshivah students should not go to the army.

But this is wrong on two counts. First of all, although there is no national emergency that needs everybody right now, there easily could be one in the future. It is important to have large numbers of people that have been trained as soldiers and can be mobilized in times of need. One cannot wait until the emergency to train everyone!

Second, even if the current security situation does not require everyone to be drafted, it certainly requires a lot of people to be drafted. It is unacceptable for the charedi community to declare that this manpower should only be drawn from other communities and not from its own. 

Rabbi Hoffman quotes an assessment from the top IDF experts that there is no manpower shortage. Well, there is also no shortage of dollars in the Jewish people, but that doesn't mean that when someone comes collecting, you can simply avoid doing your part and rely on the dollars coming from others. The IDF has to recruit a certain number of people every year. Why should only non-charedim make up this manpower?

Let us return to Moshe Rabbeinu's words, “Shall your brothers go out to war, while you remain here?” He does not allow for these tribes to stay beyond the Jordan and learn Torah. And nor does he say that the extra manpower is needed. Rather, Moshe Rabbeinu makes a simple argument from fairness.

VII. Hakaras HaTov - And The Lack Thereof

Compounding the problem of charedim not sharing in the burden of military service is that they do not even show concern or appreciation to those that do serve. Rabbi Hoffman concedes that there should be hakaras hatov to those who serve in the army:
There is no question, of course, that the soldiers who are protecting the nation against the enemies of the Jewish people are fulfilling a remarkable task and are playing a holy role. Certainly, all of us, who are beneficiaries of their bravery and dedication, should express our sincere hakaras haTov and pray for their welfare and well-being. It is unfortunate that some do not. 
Let's be honest here. It's not "some" who do not. It's the entire charedi world. Charedi yeshivos and shuls do not recite a Misheberach for the IDF. They call for the recital of tehillim for success in the Beit Shemesh elections, for avoiding going to the army, but they do not recite tehillim for the safety of soldiers in the IDF. They call for the recital of tehillim for yeshivah students imprisoned in Japan for smuggling, but not for IDF soldiers captured by Hamas. They do not dedicate their prayers or learning for the IDF. They do not make any expression whatsoever of hakaras hatov to the IDF.

How are we to explain such a blatant deficiency of hakaras hatov and concern? Beyond sheer ingratitude and selfishness, I can only think of a partial explanation - that the charedi world simply does not see itself as part of the same entity of Am Yisrael as the IDF. Perhaps that is the fundamental problem.

VIII. Conclusion: The Importance of Unity

Rabbi Hoffman concludes that "The month of Adar should counter the spirit of disunity and contribute to family love." But it's difficult to have unity when a community of Jews protests against the Government of Israel with the words, "G-d, nations have come into Your portion, defiled Your holy Temple… Pour out your anger on the nations which do not know you, and on the kingdoms which do not call out in Your Name” (Tehillim 89:1,6). It's difficult to have unity when a community of Jews demonstrates against the Government of Israel not in Brooklyn or Lakewood, but in front of the non-Jews of Manhattan. It's difficult to have unity when a community of Jews compares the Government of Israel to Amalek and Haman, even though the government has no desire to harm Jews, only to reduce the unfair inequalities in Israeli society. It's difficult to have unity when a community of Jews has no hakaras hatov for the sacrifices that they demand others to make, and when they have no intention of sharing in this burden.

So please, Rabbi Hoffman, spare us your call for unity, which is just a fig leaf for asking people to drop their objections to the charedi system. Please address your call for unity to the charedi community instead, and ask them to unify with the rest of Israel in its responsibilities and concerns.

59 comments:

  1. Once again Rabbi Slifkin, you so eloquently state what is in the minds of so many of us simple Jews.

    We've seen with our own eyes over the past few decades how a segment of klal Yisrael engaged in revisionist history in changing the way observant Jews practiced. Now we are seeing how they twist the very words of the Torah itself to further their agenda.

    This shouldn't surprise us as it's a natural extension of the path the Charedim have been going down for quite some time now.

    Hashem yerachem.

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  2. Note that many fault the Palestinians for not preparing their public for a settlement.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  3. If they saw any value in Tzahal such as requiring them to be makir tov, they would be plagued by self-doubt about their own non-service. The easiest way to fend off any leanings to get involved in the defense of the nation, is to convince people that IDF really doesn't play a major role, and it is all being accomplished by their learning. And when all is said and done, many, many people don't buy this line, although they can't say it in public

    Exactly the same applies to secular studies. We know that they are attractive - for several reasons. If you don't want your children and talmidim (or yourself) to think them attractive, you consciously and subconsciously convince people that they are worthless, that Torah contains all knowledge, etc.

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  4. Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for this powerfully true and articulate response and for restoring honesty, real fear of G-d, compassion for our fellow man and sanity to the dialogue Klal Yisroel is having about what it means to be a Torah Jew. Without people like you and Rabbi Dov Lipman, I would find it very challeging to maintain my faith in the Yeshiva-educated Orthodox community as being able to support an intelligent and moral way of life. You are mekadesh Shem Shamayim by restoring my faith and the faith of so many others in the great moral clarity and decency of rabbinical teachers such as yourself.

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  5. A freind of mine made the following additional point:

    The idea of torah-study protecting the medinah and exempting people from the army, even if Chazal actually were to subscribe to such a theory in this context, is not accepted by 85% of the population. Since when do you get to impose your own religious views at the expense of everyone else? If you believe that the medinah is incompatible with your religious beliefs, how dare you live there - or at least how dare do you demand money from its government to support you, how dare use it roads, airports, electrical wires, sewer system etc.?

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  6. I think that the biggest flaw in his argument (among some real whoppers, like the childish Manhattan Project analogy) is the claimed distinction between the Milchemet Mitzva 'Lite' and the Emergency Milchemet Mitzva.

    First of all, he completely invents this distinction by attributing it to supposed 'Poskim', when he was really referring to anecdotal stories by certain Rabbanim, the relevance of which were refuted by you. His claim that they 'seem to understand that there are 3 categories not two' based on the stories he cites is absurd.

    More importantly, in the absence of an explanation which Rabbi Hoffman does not provide, the distinction itself makes no sense whatsoever. If learning Torah protects us, why on earth would this be any less true in a case of imminent danger than in one of distant danger?

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  7. Do you concede that if one doesn't ascribe spiritual significance to the state of Israel, Rav Kook's position applies to the current situation?
    Even if one believes there is a religious value in having Jews control EY, Rav Kook's position is still relevant to the fairness question. He felt it was fair to ask others to fight the Germans so that Torah students could continue their studies.

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  8. Do you concede that if one doesn't ascribe spiritual significance to the state of Israel, Rav Kook's position applies to the current situation?

    No.
    And surely you're not claiming that from the charedi viewpoint, there is actually no difference between defending Israel and defending England?!

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    1. No difference between England and Israel, though there is a difference between the Arabs and WWI Germans.

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    2. Religious Jews would have no stake in a dispute between germans and british. How could they have no stake in disputes over the land of Israel , especially amongst parties who would like to wipe out every religious Jew specifically, down to the last man woman and child? Common sense is compelling even for people who turn the Torah on its head and deny the importance of Jewish presence in Israel and Jewish sovereignty

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  9. The Manhattan Project analogy was particularly ridiculous. Firstly, I seriously doubt that those working on advanced weapons research were mocked by others for not serving abroad; R' Hoffman asserts this without evidence. Secondly, it was not a pure intellectual exercise: though it employed thousands of very smart people, it was a program to develop a massively deadly weapon, and succeeded at this within a few years. If tests had shown it to be ineffectual, the program would have been cancelled and many of those working on it would likely have been sent to the South Pacific.

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  10. You could add a few more things.
    I've heard from my late Rav, haRav Moshe Botshko, an in-deepth explanation about the punition of Avraham for "drafting" everyone during his war. In really short : the term used by the gemara is אנגריה, and not anything else related to war and nothing like Poretz Gader. Quite the opposite, he explained (and proved, but I don't remember everything) that in fact אנגריה is describing as a use of something not because it is essential but convenient. He showed then that they weren't drafted in the battleground or anything directly related to the war, but Avraham asked them some others tasks.
    Another thing I heard from him : in the whole Tanakh, the one doing the wars aren't the poor uneducated peasant. Quite the opposite, from Yeoshua to David, the one doing all the fight and commanding everything were davka the Talmidei Chachamim and their talmidim.
    When it is a Milkhemet Mitzva, the first people drafted are the purest, the wised, and the best Torah learners, like Yeoshua and his talmidim...

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  11. Great article.
    (Playing devil's advocate)can't one argue on the entire premise of Part 2 by saying that serving in Tzahal is a milchemet reshut, and not a milchemet mitzvah ?

    - Eli

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  12. I don't think that anyone would claim that. Milchemet reshut is a war fought for economic benefit. The IDF is to ensure the survival of the Jews.

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  13. Regarding Rav Kook's attempts to exempt British Jews from fighting in the First World War...I am not an expert on the historical circumstances, but it is important to remember that, at that point in the war, Britain was allied with Czarist Russia which was, at the time, the most repressive government in the world towards the Jews. Although it may seem surprising today, Imperial Germany in World War I was viewed as being much friendlier to the Jews and many Jews in eastern Europe who lived in Poland and other areas occupied by the Germans during war viewed the Germans as liberators. Thus, it could be that Rav Kook didn't see any value in having Jews fight to bring victory, at least indirectly (by fighting for Britain) to a vicious anti-Jewish regime in Russia. It is important to recall that the US did not enter the war until shortly AFTER the Czarist regime was overthrown and it was believed that Russia was on its way to becoming a democracy (?!). Thus, I am speculating that perhaps it was theis "Russian factor" that Rav Kook was thinking about rather than just having Jews fight for Britain.

    PS- Beautiful piece, Rav Slifkin!

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  14. In regards to his use of the Manhattan Project as an analogous situation of chareidi yeshiva bochurim, I'm surprised no one mentioned the most obvious objection of all - the Manhattan Project was an endeavor directly focused on producing something for the military effort! It wasn't some general do-good project. In fact, it was under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!

    As much as chareidim claim they provide spiritual protection to the soldiers, until they can show some tangible, measurable way that their "service" benefits the soldiers like the Manhattan Project did to the Allied war effort, the comparison is just laughable, and only further demonstrates how deluded these apologists are.

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  15. Regarding the Manhattan Project-General Lesley Groves, the army head of the project (Robert Oppenheimer was the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory which designed the bomb) considered drafting all the scientists into the army, but decided for practical reasons not to do so. This does NOT mean that the scientists who were there were exempt from military service or military control even as civilians. Many were drafted anyway and anyone who left for some reason would be subject to conscription. Same with the civilian British merchant seamen (a very dangerous, vital job during the war). If they decided they wanted to leave they were also called up immediately. So I don't see how the Manhattan Project serves as any sort of precedent.

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  16. Moshe Dick writes:
    As one of the commentators in cross-currents, I thought it was important to specifically debunk R'Hoffman's reliance on the three gemoros he mentioned, as the chareidim always try to beat us over the head with chazal(erroneously interpreted, may I add) For amihai, allow me then to try explaining R'Moshe Botshko zz'l comments.
    The word "angaraai" is translated twice by Rashi twice, once in the gemoro Sottah 10a and the other time in Avoda Zoro 2b in a totally different context. In avodah zoroh, Rashi says that it includes working for the king and also fighting in his wars.In Sottah, however, where the sin of Asa in making talmidei chachomim work is mentioned, Rashi only says "avodas hamelech", working for the king, with absolutely no mention of warfare. This is deliberate ,as Rashi always chooses his words carefully. This reading is obvious because if you check th actual Possuk where Asa is meant to hav done that (A possuk that R"hoffman deliberately ignores), it is clear that we are talking about doing mundane work, not waging war. In the case of Avrohom ovinu, however, he did draft them to wage war (I think you switched R"Moshe Botshko's words)but there are two other interpretations of the possuk (Shmuel and R'Yochanan) that totally dispute the view that the sin was drafting talmidei chachomim.
    The gemoro in sanhedrin doesn't even deal with any milchemet mitzvah, only the armed struggle between Dovid hamelech and his opponents(see sanhedrin 49a).
    In sum, R"hoffman's sources are fictitious and have no leg to syand on.May I add that what I found most reprehensible is his dismissal of Rashi in his explanations (see the article). Rashi. that every chareidi will tell you wrote his perush "beruach hakodesh" and also his sleigh of hand in quoting the gemoros while dismissing the views that don't fit with his concepts.

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  17. Here is a quote from an article of R' Aharon Lichtenstein on exemptions for yeshiva students (Tradition, Fall 1985) who 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.

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  18. Rabbi Hoffman claims most meforshim say the campaigns of אסא and אברהם were מלחמת מצוה. Can he name one?

    Here's the definition of מלחמת מצוה from the רמב"ם:
    ואי זו היא מלחמת מצוה? זו מלחמת שבעה עממים ומלחמת עמלק ועזרת ישראל מיד צר שבא עליהם

    Does the war of אברהם fall into any of those categories? It would be a stretch to say it is described as ועזרת ישראל מיד צר שבא עליהם. While much ink has been spilled as to whether אברהם had the status of בן נח or not, all agree that לוט was a בן נח. So how was the war עזרת ישראל?

    So much for my amateur analysis. But onto real sources. Here's what the מדרש רבה has to say about that war:
    רבי לוי אמר בפרשת שוטרים הוריקן, הדא מה דאת אמר מי האיש הירא ורך הלבב ילך וישוב לביתו
    Clearly, we're not talking about a מלחמת מצוה! Indeed, the מהרש"א cites this very מדרש in his commentary- which means he understands the gemara to be referring to a מלחמת רשות.

    Rabbi Hoffman then cites Rav Kook. Here's the relevant quotation:
    שהרי אין לך מלחמת־מצוה יותר גדולה מהמלחמה שערך אברהם אבינו נגד המלכים, שמן השמים השכימו על ידו
    On the face of it, this appears very strange. The Rambam does not list Hashem's approval as a defining aspect of a מלחמת מצוה. See the beginning of ברכות which describes דוד consulting with Achitofel, the Sanhedrin and finally the אורים ותומים before engaging in what was necessarily a מלחמת רשות. If he got the green light from the אורים ותומים, wouldn't that be equivalent to Hashem's approval? Why then was it only considered a מלחמת רשות?

    I think it's intellectually dishonest to divorce Rav Kook's citation of the gemara from the historical context of the letter. Rav Kook was not given his commentary on the gemara; he simply mentioned it as one element of his argument. He was dealing with the issue of drafting Yeshiva students in the U.K. during WWI. In my humble opinion, that Rav Kook was not being halachically precise when he mentioned מלחמת מצוה. Rather he meant it to refer to a war that is obligatory insofar as it is a just and necessary war. Clearly, there are such wars that don't reach the technical level of מלחמת מצוה. (Indeed, the Chazon Ish refers to obligatory wars that are a מצוה to fight in insofar as פקוח נפש is concerned.) When Rav Kook writes that the war of אברהם was a מלחמת מצוה, he meant it לאו דוקא, perhaps as an exaggeration to emphasize that Torah scholars are even exempt from just and necessary wars.

    The same goes for the campaign of אסא. A straight reading of the narrative in נ"ך makes it very difficult to say it was a מלחמת מצוה. The war was over; all that was necessary to do was to remove the siege tower (and then re-use the stones to build cities). That was a non-military operation, and therefore it's a stretch to claim it was a מלמחת מצוה. Indeed the מהרש"א says explicitly that it wasn't a מלחמת מצוה.



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  19. Moshe Dick writes:
    Ephraim-you are absolutely correct in your interpretations. In my response in cross-currents, I quote the MaHarsho who says very clearly that it was not a milchemt mitzvah.
    As far as the war of Avrohom ovinu, if you accept that milchemet mitzvah is helping one's brothers and sisters , then
    indeed that war could be considered milchemet mitzvah, as Rav Kook zz'l says. However, as I indicated, there are two other exlanations in the gemoro of the possuk that do not use that interpretation at all. Rav Kook zz"l used the first interpretation because WW1 was a war when bnai yisorel were not involved in. Halachacally, however, I am certain that even Rav Kook zz'l would pasken like the Rambam in hilchos melochim, 'afilu chosson mechupposo".

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  20. I just read the first two of your answers regarding SECURITY and I did not find any mekorot. Could you please write them?

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  21. Rabbi,

    A tour de force as usual.

    I want to add to point V.

    Whatever Rav Kook actually said, it was clearly ignored by Anglo-Jewry. It should be noted that British Jews have always been at the forefront of British life, have exerted an influence well beyond numbers, which including defending the country in which I live and love.

    The quote about Jews 'serving in a foreign army' leaves a VERY bad taste in the mouth. This sounds good on a blog, but for those of us who live in diaspora this is milk to be lapped up by far right anti-Semites ; i.e. Jews are a 'fifth column'.

    In actual fact in WWI British male Jews served in a higher proportion to the population than non British male Jews (10% to 13%) so that says something about us British Jews who do not consider fighting for Britain to be fighting for 'a foreign country'; we love Britain, we support Israel, we get hammered by this fact.

    I would also add that it was British forces via the 'Jewish legion' (of which the 2nd President of Israel was a part of,as well as other Zionist figures) who liberated Palestine and it was Britain who issued 'The Balfour Declaration'. True there was much hand ringing and backtracking, but at least the principle of a Jewish state was established officially within the international community.

    Other than that, I agree with the post.

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  22. the gimara is very clear ib bava basra daf 8 that that tora scholars don't need protection ad therfore do not have contribute to arm services ON A VERY PRACTICAL LVEL. the miforshim on halacha say that anyone who is involved in learning full time is exempt!

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  23. Excellent, well reasoned article! Kol Hakavod!
    I also wanted to mention another source, in a similar vein as was mentioned in an earlier comment by Amihai, that historically, the best of Klal Yisroel were the ones drafted to fight. This concept is also seen in the Mishna in Kidushin, perek 4, mishna 5. The mishna in Kidushin is listing various people for whom there's no need to check their yichus, as people in such positions are already pre-checked upon appointment to those important positions. For example, if you see a Kohein doing the Avoda on the Mizbeiach in the Beis Hamikdash, there's no need to check his yichus, as his yichus was certainly verified upon his appointment to that prestigious position. Another example listed in the mishna of someone who doesn't require their yichus to be checked are people who were enlisted in Dovid HaMelech's Jewish army. The gemara explains the reason is because Dovid HaMelech only selected soldiers for his army who had excellent yichus, so once you've established that someone is a soldier, checking their yichus would be superfluous. Dovid HaMelech selected the people with the best Yichus to be his soldiers, so that their zchus avos would help them in battle. So, once again, we see how historically, the best of Klal Yisroel were drafted to fight. The best, and the most me'yu'cho'sim did not claim exemptions from fighting in the Jewish army, but rather, they participated with honor.

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  24. "the gimara is very clear ib bava basra daf 8 that that tora scholars don't need protection"

    Responsa Radvaz 2:752 greatly restricts the extent of the Gemara's ruling about Torah scholars being exempt from contributing towards security, including stating that it does not apply in cases where the rabbis consider themselves in need of protection. (I have seen quotes of other sources that the exemption only applies to situations where the protection is from theft, and not when lives are in danger.)

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  25. I heard from a very reliable Rabbinical source that the question of whether Torah scholars need protection came up in a settlement in Judea/Samaria that had kollel people learning. When they set up a civilian security patrol that everyone was expected to serve in. The kollel claimed they were exempt on the basis of this gemara. A very famous Haredi/Lita'i posek was consulted and he said that if the kollel people felt that the yishuv needed armed protection even with the zchut of their studying, then they had to participate as well. The Rav I heard this from then asked this very famous posek why Yeshiva bochurs don't serve in the IDF on the same basis. No clear answer was given other than the IDF had been giving exemptions to them.

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  26. Excellent, thank you. I have been told that its really very simple. There just is no kedusha in the Medinah, so while it may be a chesed to go to the army, it certainly isn't a mitzvah.

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  27. RT,

    Regarding the Gemara in Bava Basra that Talmidie Chachamim don't need protection, it has no relevance to war.

    I saw the this in a Charedi publication. The following interesting halachic question came up. There was a wave of burglaries in a particular Charedi neighborhood so the residents decided to hire a private security company. However, then the question of how to apportion the costs came up. Since the Gemara says that תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה and the majority of the people in the neighborhood sit and learn in kollel (and presumably have the status of Talmidei Chachamim) who should pay?

    R' Elyashiv answered as follows:
    The principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה only applies in a normal situation, before there is a rash of burglaries. However, now that there already was a rash of burglaries it would be considered a נס for the talmid chacham not to be harmed. Therefore the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה does not apply and everyone has to pay equally for the security company.

    If תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה doesn't apply to a rash of burglaries then how much more so it doesn't apply to a situation of war.

    R' Zevin in a famous essay makes a similar point about war:

    When actual lives are at stake, may we rely on miracles? In 1929 at Hebron... didn't young students of the yeshiva, whose holiness shone like stars in the sky, fall before the malicious enemy? Please, did these martyrs need protection or not?... If you understand that the scholars don't need protection in relatively peaceful times and are exempt from building the protective walls, what consequence has this when compared to a life-and-death struggle, a war which is a mitzvah and in which all are obligated? The defense authorities ordered everyone to cover all windows as protection against shattering glass in case of an air raid. Would anyone think that some rabbis will not do so, claiming, "Rabbis do not need protection?" ...Why did rabbis leave areas under enemy fire along with the rest of the general population? Why did they not rely on this maxim?

    R' Aharon Lichtenstein makes a similar statement:

    It may be stated... that such a claim (that since rabbis "don't need protection" they should be exempt from military service) raises a very serious moral issue. Can anyone whose life is not otherwise patterned after this degree of trust and bitahon argues for exemption on this ground? Is it possible to worry about one's economic future - in evident disregard of Rabbi Eliezer's statement that "whoever has bread in his basket and says 'What shall I eat tomorrow?' is but of little faith" - and yet not enter the army because one is presumably safe without it?

    For more sources on this see Talmidei Chachamim don't need protection: Does this provide a basis for draft exemptions for yeshiva students?

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  28. "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?"

    It should be noted that Rav Lichtenstein's ideas are not his own. He's simply paraphrasing the words of most major commentaries on this Rambam.

    There's a general consensus that the Rambam is talking about unique Torah scholars who don't take any money. This is the mainstream understanding of the Rambam, and is held by the Radbaz, Ma'aseh Rokeach, Maharitz Chayot, Netziv, Rav Ahron Kotler and Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Now how many Torah scholars fit this category? Two percent? Five percent?

    In any case, the above may be irrelevant in a מלחמת מצוה. Rav Moshe Sternbuch has paskened that Levi'im are indeed drafted in מלחמת מצוה. It would therefore follow that the few Torah scholars who are compared to שבט לוי would be drafted as well.

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  29. Rav Natan you have cogently and expertly cited the sources which prove why people should go to the army. As a starry-eyed youth these very sources- especially the Rambam- led me to diverge from the Chareidi world and to do military service, as well as encouraging my children to go in this path.The moment I left full-time Torah study I enlisted. However a look at tzahal today (I still have connections to the army,as well as the Nachal Chareidi) reveals a number of serious problems which could easily be fixed if someone really wanted Chareidim in the army. The biggest scourge is the presence of girls at almost all echelons of the army. These are generally not religious girls and their language, dress and mode of life can be very challenging to any person brought up differently. Yet Tzahal insists on giving these girls the right to serve anywhere, forces its soldiers to hear women sing, has no sentiment for those who do not want to face a woman for hours in their offices, etc. Women flirt shamelessly with any soldier they feel like,and the general atmosphere is not conducive to spiritual growth whatsoever. You must know the Torah's admonition: לא יראה בך ערות דבר ושב מאחריך which is specifically in a war context.
    So I concur with you that there is a lack of Hakaras Hatov towards Tzahal, who are clearly doing their best to defend us, but I can also understand those who want to prottect their kids from such an environment, and I especially understand their concern for the weaker religious kids. Some people would rather their kid died than become Chiloni and even though we don't ascribe to such opinions, we can as rational people respect those who do.

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  30. Rav Yoel, it's good to hear from you! I agree that one can understand why people don't want to send their kids to the army - indeed, there are physical dangers as well as spiritual dangers! But to quote Rabbi Adlerstein: "But how do we ask other, reluctant Israelis to pay a different price so that we don’t have to pay ours? Who gave us that right?"

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  31. This is clearly a דו-שיח של חרשים a debate between two deaf people who cannot understand one another at all. The Chilonim think the Chareidim are cowards, wish to protect their children from physical danger and to avoid their death on the battlefield. However I believe this is not the case as if they would see a real Torah- oriented battalion (Sadly, they do not know that Nachal Chareidi is nearly exactly what they want- as someone who spent time with them) they would enlist their kids there. However how do you explain to a Chiloni what a "spiritual risk" is? Moreover there is clearly a source for people learning at the same time as others are serving- see Sanhedrin 49b where this is clearly stated- מי גרם ליואב etc, as well as Rambam at the end of Shmita Ve'Yovel. How does one explain that to one devoid of interest in such spiritual growth? This argument can never be resolved if the frame of reference of each side is so dissimilar

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  32. "even a groom from the chuppah"

    And bride.

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  33. Saul Orchard-
    While I understand your statement, I can also understand why Rav Kook wanted to keep Jews out of World War I. On the one hand, British Jews at the time felt relatively insecure and wanted to prove their patriotism, but on the other hand, Jews like Rav Kook, who had recently lived in the Russian Empire, and many non-Jews for that matter, viewed World War I as merely a gigantic imperialist war. Don't forget, the last war Rav Kook had experienced was the Russo-Japanese War which was over who would control Korea and if Russia would have a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean. The last war Britain had been involved in was the Boer War which Britain launched in order to get control of the Witwatersrand gold fields in southern Africa. Many people viewed World War I as a competition between Germany and Britain over whose fleet would control the world's oceans and whether Germany was justified in feeling that it didn't have as many overseas colonies as Britain.
    I can understand that Jews would not feel it was worth dying in a war fought over such issues which didn't involve Jewish interests, particularly as their efforts would be helping the vile Russian Empire. That is one major reason the British made the Balfour Declaration....to get world Jewry aligned with the Allies. Don't forget that many Britons would have wanted to stay out of the war, even though they had an alliance with France and it was the German trampling of neutral Belgium that really gave the final motivation for the British to enter the war.

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  34. R' Slifkin, I'm not sure if you are missing the real point or trying to prove it in a roundabout way: All of these articles are by thoughtful, modern, English-speaking charedim and directed at non-charedim. I doubt there's anything like this in the internal discussions of the Hebrew-speaking charedi world.

    The actual reason is much simpler: They don't like the State of Israel, never have, and want to have as little to do with it that doesn't directly benefit them. It's ugly, but true. All this talk about "spiritual protection" and so on was invented to make it look better to outsiders. It's not just that they don't believe it- it's that they simply don't care.

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  35. Rabbi Hoffman writes:
    " The most plausible answer is that there are different categories of Milchemes Mitzvah. This is how the Radbaz Volume II #752 understands the halacha as well".

    This is bizarre. That תשובה does not discuss halachic categories of war. It discusses under which circumstances Torah scholars are exempt from contributing toward guarding the city. They are not exempt where they themselves require protection. See the תשובה for full details.

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  36. There is a fundamnetal and basic flaw with R. Hoffman's entire line of reasoning that has nothing to do with his interpretation of the various sources he quotes. Even if, for the sake of argument, you accept that all of his interpretations are correct, his bottom line conclusion is still unconvincing.

    Boiled down to its essence, his argument appears to be that yes, avreichim are obligated to defend themselves and their fellow Jews from imminent danger, but because just now we are not in danger of being overrun by our enemies, we are better off if they sit and learn. So ... the logical conclusion is that if the war reaches Bnei Braq we can expect to see the yeshivot empty out as their students pick up rifles and ... and what????

    What are they supposed to do with their rifles if they don't know how to shoot them? A typical IDF soldier undergoes basic training and continues to train in miluim. What use is an avreich in the defense of his home if he doesn't already know how to fight? Waiting until there is imminent danger before presto chango becoming a soldier is absolutely preposterous in the context of modern warfare.

    And just a side point, ever wonder why Pinchas used a javelin? Of all the weapons that were used in those times, why a javelin (which is barely mentioned in Tanach), and why would Pinchas, who was presumably learning at the time, have one close by? Well, Javelins were weapons used in masses by auxiliary troops. They didn't require a whole lot of skill because the object was to blanket an area instead of aiming at individual targets. So while some training was required to teach a javelin unit to throw in unison, it was a relatively easy thing to learn. In other words, javeins were perfect and ideal weapons for miluimnikim.

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  37. Ironically, you implicitly claim that your reading of the Torah is more than perfunctory. However, you paid scant attention to Moshe's actual objection.

    The oft-cited pasuk of "Shall your brothers go out to war, while you remain here" says nothing about why Moshe objected to the two (at this point) tribes remaining behind. Perhaps it was fairness, perhaps it was something else. We can't tell from those words alone.

    However, Moshe's objection is longer that the one pasuk. A careful (or even perfunctory) reading of the entire objection shows that his objection has nothing to do with fairness, and everything to do with making sure that the other 10 tribes don't decide to stay on the eastern side of the Jordan as well.

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  38. Rabbi slifkin, see igros moshe yd:4:33.my point this is halacha shaila should be approached the same manner that we deal with any other shaila. It should have nothing to do with rational or charaidy Judaism.The same reb moshe treated this and every ither shaila that came his way.

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  39. Gershon said...
    > Since when do you get to impose your own religious views at the expense of everyone else?

    Fundamentalists don’t see their beliefs as “religious views.” That suggests that it’s just their opinion, that they might be wrong, and that other people might legitimately have other views. Instead, they think their beliefs are the obvious truth, and anyone who disagrees is evil. So in their minds, they’re not imposing their own, idiosyncratic, beliefs on others. They’re just doing what’s obviously right, what everyone knows is the truth, what everyone should be doing and would be doing if only they hadn’t given in to their yetzer hara.

    bluke said...
    > R' Elyashiv answered as follows:
    The principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה only applies in a normal situation, before there is a rash of burglaries. However, now that there already was a rash of burglaries it would be considered a נס for the talmid chacham not to be harmed. Therefore the principle of תלמידי חכמים אינם צריכים שמירה does not apply and everyone has to pay equally for the security company.

    So when there is no danger, learning protects one from danger, but when there is danger, learners have to take practical measures?

    Kind of like how my wearing a blue shirt protects me from tigers while I’m at home, but if I were to climb into the tiger enclosure at the zoo, the shirt wouldn’t help.

    >Yoel Domb said...
    > The biggest scourge is the presence of girls at almost all echelons of the army. These are generally not religious girls and their language, dress and mode of life can be very challenging to any person brought up differently. Yet Tzahal insists on giving these girls the right to serve anywhere, forces its soldiers to hear women sing, has no sentiment for those who do not want to face a woman for hours in their offices, etc. Women flirt shamelessly with any soldier they feel like,and the general atmosphere is not conducive to spiritual growth whatsoever.

    The Chareidi attitude towards women is disgusting. It is far more demeaning and sexualizing to view women as pitfalls to be avoided and as spiritually damaging than it is to plaster nearly-nude pictures of them on billboards. Chareidim view women primarily as sex objects, which is why a Chareidi man would have such difficulty spending time in an office with a women. She’s not a person who might become a friend, she’s just raw sex dangled in front of him that he has to constantly exert willpower to avoid.

    > Some people would rather their kid died than become Chiloni and even though we don't ascribe to such opinions, we can as rational people respect those who do.

    How can we respect that, and why should we? They would rather their child DIE than become a good father, a friend people can rely on, an upstanding member of society who just disagrees with them about how binding the mitzvos are?! That’s nuts. Or is it that they think non-Charieidm are hedonistic cretins who wallow in all the evils of the world? In that case, not only shouldn’t we respect their opinion, we should condemn it as slanderous.

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  40. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I think most of what you wrote is spot-on. There is one issue that I have not seen you address thus far. There are those among the chareidi community (even those not swept up in the mob mentality) whose major concern in the whole story here is that there is an attempt by the Israeli government to secularize the chareidim, to make them a part of the country not just militarily and economically but culturally as well. (One proof for this is that many pundits assert that the IDF really doesn't even want to have to deal with an influx of chareidim into the army.) If that is the case, I can understand why they will give up anything not to have that happen. If the government would clearly demonstrate that they will not try to stamp out chareidi culture (that is, the parts of that don't involve mooching of the rest of the country), I suspect the response might be different (at least from some parts of the community).

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  41. Kind of like how my wearing a blue shirt protects me from tigers while I’m at home, but if I were to climb into the tiger enclosure at the zoo, the shirt wouldn’t help. (G*3)

    Ha-ha-ha-ha! Exquisite!

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  42. Moshe Dick writes:
    Raffi: I don't know how old you are but you are hopelessly naive. THis is another canard invented by the chareidim to avoid any responsibility. If what you write even has a smidgen of truth, how come that Torah is flourishing in Israel, that the yeshivos have been funded for decades and that the army has (generally) bent over backwards to accomodate chareidim ? I don't think that there was ever in our history a concerted effort by non-believers to have us all stray from the Torah path but this is even less credible today, fictitious stories nothwithstanding. Simply put: it is a lot easier to sit in a Beth Hamedrash smoking cigarettes than sweating it out on the battlefiend.

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  43. Does anyone have a link to the actual text of the enlistment bill that was just passed? Preferably in English but I'll take Hebrew too (will just take a bit longer for me to read). I've looked around but have not been able to find such a link. Thanks in advance.

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  44. Like many of your essays on this site, there is nothing that I can add. This is no exception.

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  45. G*3 said, "The Chareidi attitude towards women is disgusting."

    It's true that when someone is overly sensitive to being around women, it makes every encounter with a woman something erotic. It reminds me of the anecdote of a rebbe that was walking with his talmidim. One of them bumped into a telephone pole. The talmid said, "Oh, I thought it was a woman."
    His rebbe said, "I've been trying to train you to react to a woman the way you'd react to a pole--and you go and react to a pole as if it's a woman!"

    But, you're ignoring the other arguments that R. Yoel is making--the women a charedi bochur will encounter in the army speak, dress and behave far differently than anything that he'll have been accustomed.
    (I understand the Nachal Charedi units avoid this problem anyway.)

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  46. > But, you're ignoring the other arguments that R. Yoel is making--the women a charedi bochur will encounter in the army speak, dress and behave far differently than anything that he'll have been accustomed.

    And…? Nebach, the poor bachur will have to learn that most women don’t think that “modesty” = trying to hide the fact they exist from men.

    Anyway, even if the women were dressed in burkas and never spoke a word to the bochurim, the Chareidim would still object.

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  47. The real issue here is not milkhemet mitzvah but g'milut hasadim - one of the three foundation of this world.

    As Rav Aharon Lichtenstein wrote so long ago:

    for Rav Huna said, 'Whoever concerns himself solely with Torah is as one who has no God. As it is written, "And many days [passed] for Israel without a true God" (Divrei Hayamim II, 15:3). What is [the meaning of] "without a true God"? That one who concerns himself solely with Torah, is as one who has no God' (Avodah Zarah, 17b). The midrash (Kohelet Rabbah, 7:4) equates the renunciation of g'milut hasadim with blasphemy; and the gemara in Rosh Hashanah states that Abbaye outlived Rabbah because he engaged in both Torah and g'milut hasadim whereas Rabbah had largely confined himself to the former. When, as in contemporary Israel, the greatest single hesed one can perform is helping to defend his fellows' very lives, the implications for yeshiva education should be obvious.

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  48. Thank you for an exceptionally well written article!

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  49. "Saul Orchard said...
    ...defending the country in which I live and love.

    The quote about Jews 'serving in a foreign army' leaves a VERY bad taste in the mouth. This sounds good on a blog, but for those of us who live in diaspora this is milk to be lapped up by far right anti-Semites ; i.e. Jews are a 'fifth column'.....so that says something about us British Jews who do not consider fighting for Britain to be fighting for 'a foreign country'; we love Britain, we support Israel, we get hammered by this fact."

    Saul Orchard,
    I'm assuming that your presence here on this blog is an indication that you're a religious Jew. With that in mind, I find your comments rather strange...

    What do you pray for three times a day? What do you say every year at the Seder, and the end of Ne'ila? Do you not pray for for Yerushalayim to be rebuilt, and to be next year in Yerushalayim?

    But those are just words, and there is Britain to live in and to love. It's okay, we support Israel. But please, don't say things that remind us of those words we repeat every day, and every year, like "foreign army" or "foreign country", which might arouse anti-Semitism against us, if they think that we don't really want to be here...

    These days it is so (relatively) easy for Jews to return to the Land that they were exiled from 2000+ years ago, that they prayed to return to all this time, that I really don't understand what's stopping those who live in galut from making Aliya...or why those that don't continue praying for it...

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  50. "for Rav Huna said, 'Whoever concerns himself solely with Torah is as one who has no God."


    וכמו שאמרו,‏ אם רואה אדם שיסורים באים עליו יפשפש במעשיו.‏ פשפש ולא מצא יתלה בביטול תורה (ברכות ה).‏ והדקדוש מפורסם באם יש בו ביטול תורה איך קאמר פשפש ולא מצא?‏ אלא, יתלה בביטול תורה, הכוונה, שלא רצה לעסוק במצות ה׳, ובצרכי הציבור מפני שהתירא מביטול תורה, וזה עוון פלילי, כי כל התורה לא באה אלא ללמד לבני אדם להועיל ולהיטב לאחרים ולא להתיראות ולחוש לעצמו בלבד
    הרבי מקאצק-

    (ר' אברהם פרייס, אמרי אברהם, פרשת חיי שרה, דרשה ב, אות יא)

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  51. RE WWI and Jews. I think the overall conclusion is that in some sense there was a belief in defending one's home country(I guess the Germans felt the same way).Perhaps this is how Britain's Jews felt at the time? But for today and in the context of this discussion, if British Jews were prepared to defend the country that they lived in, even if was a gentile nation, then why do sections of Israeli Jewish society bitterly reject the idea of serving in an army which is there to protect the [Jewish] state they live in?

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  52. Moshe Dick writes:
    Joe Berry: You can find an excellent description of the new law (not verbatim) in the website ,jeremy'sknessetinsider. Check it out.
    Shabbat shalom

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  53. Mancurian Womble said...
    > if British Jews were prepared to defend the country that they lived in, even if was a gentile nation, then why do sections of Israeli Jewish society bitterly reject the idea of serving in an army which is there to protect the [Jewish] state they live in?

    The real answer, of course, is that they don’t want to. Chareidi society is made up of people who for three generations have just assumed that Chareidim don’t have to join the army. They take that as baseline normal.

    But perhaps some of it is also historical. Britian during WWI had an all-volunteer army, whose soldiers were well-trained and equipped. Germany had conscription, but it was a militaristic culture where serving the country as part of the army was seen as highly virtuous, and German soldiers were also well-trained and equipped. Russia, which is where the Chareidi world looks back at with nostalgia, had conscription without the nationalistic pride of the Germans and their soldiers had neither the training nor the equipment of the other Great Powers. While the British, French, and Germans had some concern for their soldiers’ lives, Russian tactics often consisted of throwing bodies at the enemy until he ran out of bullets.

    The Chareidi model of the military, then, isn’t one where people serve out of national pride with the whole country cheering them on, but one where young boys are forced into the Czar’s army for decades, where they’re usually stripped of their yiddishkeit and forced to fight for a government that just sees them as cannon fodder.

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  54. Will there be a rebuttal to the rebuttal forthcoming?

    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2014/03/14/a-response-to-rabbi-slifkin/

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  55. Saul Orchard,

    I think you are overreacting here.If you follow the link to the article by Rabbi Hoffman, that this blog post was in response to you'll find the appropriate context of the comments made here. I'd like to add more re WWI and British Jews, serving in a foreign army, 'foreigners' etc, but I've only got a short time on the internet today so I can't do justice to those topics, perhaps another time and another thread .

    As an aside and I'm not sure how relevant this is to the contemporary situation or discussion, does anyone know if we can find out what the action or response of the Chief Rabbi to Rav Kook's letter?

    Those comments aside, a Shabbat Shalom to Rabbi Slifkin, you and all who read this esteemed blog of intelligent and rational discussion.

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  56. Dear Rav Slifkin,

    I was saying in general you did not write the mekorot for your arguments.. could you post them?

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