Volume 16 Number 80
                       Produced: Thu Nov 24  9:14:40 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Army (2)
         [Shaul Wallach, Danny Skaist]
Army Service (2)
         [Yaakov Menken, Jeffrey Woolf]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 94 23:05:42 IST
Subject: Army

    Again I find it difficult to tackle all the points that have been
brought up about the army. In a separate posting I am presenting some
material in the name of R. Zvi Yehuda Kook ZS"L and R. Zvi Pesah Frank
ZS"L. Here I would like to respond to Eli Turkel's latest posting, as
in it he comes fairly close to home.

    First of all, I did not "accuse" Eli or anyone else of anything,
but merely made a sober observation of the current feeling without
passing judgment. It is perfectly acceptable to get excited over things
like this, for that is our human nature that the Creator gave us. It is
also perfectly acceptable to use our powers of intellect and reason to
try and address the subject from a Torah perspective, just as we must
for everything in life, and as I have attempted to do in my other
postings on the subject.

     Eli questions my calculation of the relative numbers of yeshiva
deferments being given. It went as follows: The Jewish population of
Israel today is 4.4 million, so the number of men is 2.2 million. Of
these very roughly one half, or about 1 million, might be of army age,
so that 22,000 would be very roughly 2%.

    Now, however, I have more exact figures that I saw published
in today's issue of Yated Ne'eman, based on the report of Gen. Yoram
Yair, head of the army's manpower department. Over the past year,
17% of those liable to the draft were deferred, including 5.2% who
were outside the country, 4.2% for health reasons, and 4.8% who were
learning in yeshivot full time. The latest figures contrast with the
situation 20 years ago when 12% were deferred, including 3, 5 and 2%,
for the same reasons, respectively. (In addition, over 15% of those
in the army received early discharge this year, including 4.6% due to
health, 4.5% due to unfitness, 2.4% for economic reasons, and 3.8% due
to cutbacks.) So while the relative number of yeshiva deferments has
indeed grown, they are still only a small fraction of all the
deferments, and in particular they are still fewer than the number who
avoid the army in order to leave the country.

    (To be open about it, in view of our spiritual degeneration here in
Israel today, and in particular in view of the recent cutbacks in Jewish
education in the secular state schools, I believe that we need as many
yeshiva students as we can get. They are the best counterweight we can
provide in response to the progressive loss of Jewish identity in Israel

    Another news item worth quoting appeared in today's Ha-Modia`. A
group of adult yeshiva students (over 27 and with 2 or more children)
who went to the army for basic training and reserve duty complained
about the humiliating treatment they receeived at the hands of their
commanders. They claimed that they were not being given enough sleep
(about 3 hours a night), that not enough time was not being given to
them for prayers (especially in the morning), that one of them
collapsed as a result of the pressure and required hospitalization,
plus more. To the credit of the army, the publicity that the newspaper
gave to the story before publication led to a total change in policy on
the part of the commanders (they said they didn't want half the Joint
Command coming in to investigate). However, it does show that not always
in the army are the religious treated with respect.

    Eli brings up the issue of hatred. I think this should be put into
its proper perspective. Secular Jews have always hated the scholars,
even before there was a State of Israel with an army, and even before
Zionism came into existence. In fact it goes back all the way to Datan
and Aviram (Ex. 2:14) and Qorah (Num. 16). In the Talmud (Pesahim 49b)
we are told: Greater is the hatred that the ignorant (`Amei Ha-arez)
hate the Talmid Hakham more than the hatred that they hate the
idolators. And on the same page we have Rabbi Aqiva saying: When I was
an `Am Ha-arez, I said, "Who will give me a Talmid Hakham and I'll
bite him like an ass!" So this hatred has always existed, and today
it is just the army, among other things, that is the excuse. The only
thing we can do about it is to stop the divisiveness among ourselves
and dedicate ourselves instead to "loving our neighbors and bringing
our relatives close" as our Rabbis told us in Yevamot 62b.

    Eli is not content with what I wrote about civilian casualties:

>>>  sitting at home while others take the risks somewhat lacking in
>>> force. First, let us not forget the many civilian casualites, including
>>> Haredim, that we have suffered. Recent events are a sober reminder that
>>> no one is safe anywhere, Rahmana Lizlan
>   I find this logic absolutely atrocious. Not only is there no sympathy
>for those soldiers serving in Lebanon or the Gaza strip,

    It was implicit in my preceding words "as painful as the subject

>                                                        but Shaul
>implies that it is not much more dangerous then living in Bnei Brak or
>Jerusalem.  Next time I speak with a mother worried about her son in
>Lebanon I will comfort her that she is company with the mothers in Bnei
>Brak worried about the safety of their children!

    But they are. Every time our eldest son takes the bus back to his
yeshiva in Petah Tiqwa, my wife calls up afterwards to make sure he
made it. About 4 years ago a yeshiva student was killed in Benei Beraq
on the 66 bus from Petah Tiqwa by a terrorist. And I heard myself the
bomb go off 4 years ago in downtown Benei Beraq half a block away from
the synagogue where I was that morning.

>   I have an entire book on the special halachas in the army. Many
>things, e.g. carrying guns, doing guard duty with jeeps and lights,
>etc. are permitted in the army on shabbat because of "pikuach nefesh"
>(life threatening - security situations). Is Shaul suggesting that
>this be allowed in Bnei Brak also because it is equally dangerous? ...

    I think it is, at least on occasion. I remember that during the
holiday seasons the civilian guard (Mishmar Ha-Ezrahi) has patrols,
and that the rabbis permit them to carry weapons even on Shabbat and
Yom Tov. I also remember that on Qibbutz Beerot Yizhaq, where I spent
a year, one of the occupations was guard duty. And when I spent a
Shabbat at Mevo Horon, my host had guard duty that Shabbat.

    Of course it is true, as Eli says, that not all places are equally
dangerous. But neither, for that matter, are all jobs in the army. On
the qibbutz my immediate supervisor, who was in a tank unit, was not
exactly impressed with the musicians in the Nahal who were on the
qibbutz at the time.

    I have written all the above only in an attempt to soothe some of
the feelings that have been aroused, not at all as a halachic argument
(for which see my other postings). Of course I recognize that in our
minds there is a moral dimension to the issue, but I find it hard to
deal with because I don't know how much halachic weight it carries.

    Nevertheless, in closing, let me say here that I do have the utmost
admiration for the hesder students as Jewish individuals. After the war
in Lebanon in 1982, some of them were killed in an ambush, something I
remember reading about in the newspaper. It was reported that while on
duty, they had asked their army rabbi whether it was permissible to pick
oranges from the grove nearby or not, since stealing from a non-Jew is
forbidden. May their memory be a blessing to us and to all Israel!



From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 14:24 IST
Subject: Army

>Eli Turkel
>the next generation. This is a far cry from the exemption of tens of
>thousands of yeshiva students independent of their contribution to

A comment on the figures. I don't trust them.

The age of 18 is only considered "magic" for army service by secular
education standards, since by 18 you have finished "high" school and
learned all that you need to know to make your way in the world.  It is
a "natural" break in life and so the army fits in there.

Jewish religious circles do not however consider 18 as a "magic" number
to break off learning.  They consider 20 as a more appropriate age for
military service.

My son served with a few boys who had taken a "Yeshiva" exemption for 2
years and then did their regular service. The figures for the number of
exemptions include those who will serve 3 years after a 2 or 3 year
stint in Yeshiva.

The figure of how many full time soldiers had at one time held Yeshiva
exemptions is unpublished, unmentioned and unavailable. I have looked
for it and come up empty.



From: Yaakov Menken <ny000548@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 94 03:44:24 -0500
Subject: Army Service

It is amazing how an emotional issue is permitted to cloud rational 
thinking - and Torah beliefs.  I apologize in advance for the strong
tone of these remarks, but I hope they will awaken at least one reader.  

The comments about "serving to avoid the 'hatred' of secular Israelis" 
deserve the recognition that they receive in Chareidi circles - were it 
not for the Chareidi Yeshivos, Hesder would quickly come under attack: 
"those Yeshiva students, they only serve 1.5 years instead of 3!"  The 
Talmud says that ignoramuses hate the scholars, and we see a wealth of 
proof every day.  The secular Israelis hate the Chareidim, but when they 
decide to become "Chozrim B'Tshuva" [BT's, Israeli-style], where do they 
go?  And as it happens, the Army has already carefully analyzed the 
situation and determined that they wouldn't know how to cope with 20,000
Chareidi recruits - guys who need GLATT Kosher and refuse to even _look_ 
at a female soldier (much less watch her explain how to dismantle an 
M-16) are not their idea of helpful.  [The editorial page of the 
Jerusalem Post, Friday, July 10, 1992 was devoted to this debate, and I 
can upload the relevant passages.]  So let's deal with this according to 
Torah perspectives alone:

The recent allegation that a "Yeshiva student [decides] that he 
will study Torah for himself without serving the community" is not 
merely highly offensive, but denial of the power of Torah.  One who does 
not believe that learning Torah is not IN AND OF ITSELF serving the 
community is not, imho, following the required parameters of this list.

In addition, a "Bar Bei Rav D'Chad Yuma [a student of a Yeshiva for even 
one day]" can testify that many of those who were neither the best nor 
the brightest now work in Day Schools, Chesed organizations, and 
Outreach institutions across the country.  The insinuation that only 
those brilliant and supremely dedicated few deserve to stay in Yeshiva 
drinking from the wellsprings of Torah, while the rest of us starve, 
is again bizarre and offensive.  Those Chareidim who leave, serve -
as noted recently, a young student who gets a _driver's_ license (in 
Israel) is considered to be obviously on his way out of Yeshiva, and 
ineligible for an exemption.  That's Rav Shach's order, not the gov'ts.

Shaul writes that "according to Rabbi Kook, wars are won by virtue of 
the Talmidei Hakhamim, 'who benefit the state more than the soldiers who 
fight.'"  I am certain that Shaul will agree that this is not merely Rav 
Kook's opinion, but well-founded throughout Torah and Talmud.  Merely 
because _some_ Jews who wear the appropriate clothing and observe the 
appropriate holidays and laws are willing to rely neither on Torah 
("Gather together and see the salvation of G-d... G-d will wage war on 
your behalf, and you shall be silent") nor Talmud ("Sages do not require 
protection") does not obligate the rest of us.

Yaakov Menken                                 <menken@...>
(914) 356-3040  FAX: 356-6722                 <ny000548@...>
Project Genesis                               <genesis@...>
P.O. Box 1230, Spring Valley, NY 10977

From: Jeffrey Woolf <F12043@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 94 15:17:43 IST
Subject: Re: Army Service

I am stunned, along with a number of others, at the fatuousness of Shaul
Wallach's arguments and presentation (though I am absolutely sure that
his is sincere)....The issue in Army Service is not just going or
not. The question is taking responsibility for one's place in society
and expressing gratitude for those who protect us. Haredim do
neither. We live in a time of Hester Panim when it is presumptuous to
assume that learning alone will protect us from those who would destroy
us (though Heaven Forfend that I would deny the effectiveness of Torah
and Tefillah).
   At the same time I am intrigued by Shaul's contention that we should
pity the poor denizens of Bnei Brak who put their lives on the line
every day as the perambulate to kollel (maybe).While the equation
between these and the boys in Lebanon, Judea and Samaria and Aza is way
off the mark, still it does raise a possibility. Increasingly,
non-draftees among the non-Haredi population (like older-over 35) Olim
and others, are filling their responsibilities to the defense of our
country through service with the Civil Guard (in both uniformed and
non-uniformed units) or as EMS volunteers with Magen David Adom.  If
Shaul and those who think like him object to the army (a position I
personally feel indefensible) ON HIS TERMS let him and all Yeshiva
students volunteer in one of these Home Guard frameworks. In Bnei Brak
he would serve with other rteligious people and would be performing a
very important service. The Israel police is charghed with all internal
(anti-terrorist) security and with general law-enforcement. Civil Guard
members helped foil the Nahlat Shiva attack (or at least to do damage
control) and stopped a Hamas cell in Jerusalem last week. The police is
very short of manpower and counts the Mishmar HaEzrachi as part of its
pool of manpower. Same goes for Mada.
   These two frameworks are much admired in Israeli circles and if
Haredim were to serve in them they would escape alot (not all) of the
opprobrium which they engender. Again, I think the students should
serve. However, on their terms....Let Shaul put his money......
               Jeffrey Woolf


End of Volume 16 Issue 80