26 Comments

I agree that religious soldiers, who are fighting to protect Torah study and observance, indeed have tremendous zechusim! But the anti-religious soldiers, who would prefer to see the yeshivos and shuls close down and are fighting to protect the Tel Aviv beach lifestyle, gay pride marches, and nature raves, have no zchus at all.

Expand full comment

And that is a great argument for why all charedim should serve in the army.

Expand full comment

No zchus for risking their lives for you….I see….

Expand full comment

I don't live in Israel. But even if I did, these soldiers are not fighting to protect Chareidim. The fact Chareidim are protected is (to them) an unwanted side effect .

Expand full comment
author

This might come as a shock, but it's meritorious to save Jews even if they are not charedim.

Expand full comment

Or even if they are charedim who draft dodge….

Expand full comment

He who doesn’t share in the pains of klal Yisrael won’t share in thier salvation….. glad to know you don’t really care…

Expand full comment

where does this stupid idea come from that learning torah wins wars?

from Pinchas to David it never happened

these people are just scared of getting killed

Expand full comment

Don’t call Chazal’s ideas stupid. Besides the Gemoro Natan quotes, there is another Gemoro in Sanhedrin (94b) which says: “Rav Yitzchok the Blacksmith said, ‘The yoke of Sancheriv was destroyed because of the oil of Chizkiyohu which was burning in the synagogues and study halls.’

And what about the pesukim in Parashas Bechukosai?

‘If you will walk in my statutes (Rashi, from Toras Kohanim ad loc.: “that you should labour in my Torah.”)…. you will pursue your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword. Five from among you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred from among you will pursue ten thousand; and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.’

Expand full comment
author

The thing is, that Gemara does not mean what you think it means.

Expand full comment

Wow, that's very clear. Thank you for setting me straight!

Expand full comment

There were no synagogues in the time of Chizkiyahu. They were a second temple era innovation.

Expand full comment

While very much sympathetic with the thrust of this post, just wanted to quibble with the interpretation of the key passage quoted, Makkot 10a.

The contrast made between בשביל and בגלל is probably not correct. In classical rabbinic Hebrew (unlike in Modern Hebrew, based on Biblical Hebrew), b’shvil is in fact the standard way to say “because of".

For one random example, from simple search:

https://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Berakhot.5a.9.2:

אשרי הגבר אשר תיסרנו יה ומתורתך תלמדנו – שבשביל יסורין צריך אדם לבא לידי תלמוד תורה:

Steinzaltz:

God punishes an individual for dereliction in the study of Torah in order to emphasize the gravity of the issue, as it is stated: “Happy is the man whom You punish, Lord, and teach out of Your law” (Psalms 94:12). This verse teaches us that his suffering will cause him to return to Your law.

See Sefaria search of Talmud commentaries:

b’shvil - ~12.5k results

https://www.sefaria.org/search?q=%D7%91%D7%A9%D7%91%D7%99%D7%9C&tab=text&tpathFilters=Talmud%20Commentary&tvar=1&tsort=relevance&svar=1&ssort=relevance

b’glal - only ~3k results

https://www.sefaria.org/search?q=%D7%91%D7%92%D7%9C%D7%9C&tab=text&tpathFilters=Talmud%20Commentary&tvar=1&tsort=relevance&svar=1&ssort=relevance

In general, Chazal clearly consistenly downplayed militarism, vs. study and quietism, due to the numerous failed rebellions against Rome. Josephus had a similar attitude, see my recent piece on this: https://www.ezrabrand.com/p/notes-on-some-historical-aspects > "Quietism in Josephus and the Talmud"

Expand full comment
author

Thank you, I have accordingly deleted that part. Good point about Chazal downplaying militarism due to risk of rebellions - same as with Chanukah.

Expand full comment

Exactly. More examples:

בשביל עצלות שהיה בישראל שלא עסקו בתורה נעשה שונאו של הקב״ה מך (תענית ז׳ ע״ב

בשביל כסף וזהב שהשפעת להם לישראל עד שאמרו די, הוא גרם שעשו את העגל (ברכות ל״ב ע״א

בשביל משקל שני סלעים מילת שהוסיף יעקב ליוסף משאר אחיו נתגלגל הדבר וירדו אבותינו למצרים (מגילה ט״ז ע״ב)

And there are many, many more.

Natan’s brilliant erudition is on display once again.

Expand full comment

This is one of the silliest articles you have written (intentionally satiric???). Hashem is not an accountant, and all such analogies were made only so that people might have some understanding. It's as silly as 2 children arguing "My Daddy loves me more than he loves you!" This is nonsense. In my opinion, a country like Israel should have a Universal Draft with a certain number exempted by lottery. Enlistments by those exempt should be encouraged. This way, it will be Hashem who decides.

Expand full comment

If you ever studied physics, you must be familiar with the idea of the "frictionless surface". In certain classroom problems, one omits complicating real-life factors in order to learn how one would solve the equation, theoretically.

But there are, in fact, no frictionless surfaces here on earth. Likewise, your proposal sounds great in theory, but we will not be able to implement it here in the real world without establishing a dictatorship which is willing to apply the force needed to pass and enact such decrees.

Let's get real here.

Expand full comment

I know. Wishful thinking. It worked fairly well in the United States. Unforunately those who put such faith in Hashem probably don't have enough faith to believe that those who should be exempted would win the lottery (i.e. be exempt).

Expand full comment

We need to recognize that Hashem is intelligent. A war is fought with armies , soldiers and armaments.

Expand full comment

Epicurus was a very respectable man

Anyone who has no knowledge one is not allowed to have mercy on them

Sanhedrin 92a

Expand full comment

Thank you for making me laugh out loud!

Expand full comment

Some of their ideas are for sure stupid

You really believe what the blacksmith said?

Expand full comment

How dare you talk like that about Chazal? Have you forgotten that the definition of an apikoros is, “one who denigrates Torah scholars?” (Sanhedrin 99b)

Even if you disagree with specific statements (as I do), you can do so respectfully!

Expand full comment

Rambam has a different definition. Hilchot Tshuvah 3:8. He seems to hold like some of the other opinions in that gemara.

Expand full comment

There are no opinions in that Gemoro which define apikoros in the same way Rambam does. Kesef Mishneh ad loc. struggles with this question. However, if you look at Hilchos Teshuvah 3:14 you will see that while Rambam doesn't call one who denigrates Torah scholars an apikoros, he does say that one who does so regularly loses his share in the World to Come.

Expand full comment

Correct.

Expand full comment