Volume 16 Number 83
                       Produced: Thu Nov 24 21:32:36 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Army (2)
         [Zvi Weiss, David A Rier]
Army Service (2)
         [Mechael Kanovsky, Binyomin Segal]
Army Service - D'var Torah
         ["Yaakov Menken"]
Praying for the Welfare of the Soldiers in the Israel Army
         [Ira Hammerman]


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 17:23:10 -0500
Subject: Army

Shaul Wallach attempts to prove -- based upon a letter from Rav Kook ZT"L --
the utter legitimacy of Chareidim having a BLANKET exemption regardless
of their sincerity, regardless of their aptitude, regardless of ANYTHING
except that they are enrolled in a Yeshiva.
1. From Rav Kook's letter, it was clear that he felt that drafting B'nei
   Yeshiva would cause Yeshivot to vloser down.  Is that really the case in

   Will Yeshivot in Aretz close down if the Army drafts students?  Esp. if the
   Army tries to work with the Yeshivot so that only a minority of students 
   are "out" for any length of time?
2. Rav Kook's letter was addressed to a British Government.  How much support
   did he expect such an Army to provide to Religious Students?  Is it not
   reasonable to assume that there may be a different approach when dealing
   with a Jewish Army that is truly interested in dealing with Jews?
3. Rav Kook cites the Sources that referred to drafting Talmeidei Chachamim.
   Does that refer (as it did in Rav Kook's time) to the small number of boys
   who [sometimes at great sacrifice] CHOSE to go to Yeshivot when the vast
   majority of boys around them were not doing so -- or does it refer to a
   case where virtually EVERY Chareidi boy "automatically" goes to Yeshiva?

It is no surprise that Rav Tzvi Yehuda ZT"L bitterly attacked those who 
sought to cite his father's letter as a basis for exempting boys from Israeli
service... To blandly insist that he "knows better" means -- in effect -- that
Shaul Wallach has a better understanding of Rav Kook ZT"L than Rav Kook's
own son....  That is a bit startling, to say the least.

How does Shaul come to terms with the fact that the Gemara (in Kiddushin)
states that whoever was "enrolled" in King David's Army had a really great
Yichus as David only took real Tzadikkim into his army?  Does Shaul assume
that everyone "frum" stayed home and learned and only the "dregs" went into
Military Service?
Of course, Limud Torah is critical and OF COURSE the gemara states that Tal-
midei Chachamim are exempt from defense-related expenditures because the
Torah is -- itself -- a defense (cf the  Gemara at the beginning of Bava Batra)
BUT the gemara does not appear to apply this as a blanket exemption for anyone
who devotes some time to learning....  It applies it to TALMIDEI CHACHAMIM
-- scholars -- implying that some degree of intellectual/Torah achievement is
necessary and not just anyone who claims to be a Torah Scholar.

Without -- in any way -- denigrating the letter from R. Kook ZT"L, I would
refer Shaul to an excellent article that appeared some years ago in TRADITION
wherein R. Lichtenstein SHLITA gave a spirited "defense" of the Hesder system.
He (R. Lichtenstein) dealt with the sources cited in terms of Torah Learning
and Military Service and, while being careful not to "bad mouth" the tradition-
al Yeshivot, showed that it is quite reasonable to reach the conclusion that
more Frum people should be in Military Service.  In addition, Rav Zevin ZT"L
also published a paper (back when the State was first established) calling 
upon the FRUM youth to serve... (This paper also appeared a few years ago in

Finally, I wuold ask Shaul:  how many of the boys who "sit and learn" intend
to truly make this their life;s work?  How many of these boys are our future
Roshei Yeshiva, Mechanchim, and Poskim that we can say that their Limud Torah
(as a form of Military Defense) truly justifies their exemption from "regular"
Military Service?  How many are just going to sit and learn for a few years
and then simply join the community a a "regular" lay-member?
Does Shaul think that all of these fellows who intend to conduct a "regular"
lay-life in the community deserve the military exemption afforded to Talmidei

Personally, I agree that B'nei Yeshiva for whom Torah is *truly* their "Umanut"
(their "craft") SHOULD be exempt.  In fact, I believe that the NON-frum world
would accept that.   Someone with that level of dedication indeed falls into
the category that the rambam describes so lyrically.  BUT this also calls for
honesty upon OUR part.  If there is a boy who truly does not fall into such an
exalted category, let us stop fooling ourselves.  instead of "pretending" that
such a person is a "Talmid Chacham", let us be truthful and face the fact that
-- perhaps -- for such a person, it is better for him to go into the Army and
be "Mekadesh Shem Shamayim" as he defends fellow Jews.. And, let us stop re-
garding the Army as "Evil incarnate" recognizing it fir what it really is --
Jews [often in difficult and dangerous straits] protecting and defending other
Jews -- and let the Chareidi world DEMONSTRATE its gratitude for that act of
Mesirut Nefesh.


From: David A Rier <dar6@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 21:03:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Army

Jeffrey Woolf invites Shaul Wallach to "put his money where his mouth
is" by performing alternate service.  Jeffrey's suggestion for
opportunities by which chareidim can perform service together, on their
own terms, deserves serious consideration.  However (since nobody else
has pointed this out yet), Shaul has already stated in a previous post
in this thread that he, himself, has performed military reserve duty (at
least), so it seems he need not be challenged to "put his money where
his mouth is".  
David Rier


From: <KANOVSKY@...> (Mechael Kanovsky)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 15:57:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Army Service

On the subject of army service, I would like to add a few comments. I
went to a hesder yeshiva, Yeshivat Karnei Shomron. In my second year at
the yeshiva (and also the second year of the yeshiva's existence) the
war in Lebanon broke out. The second year students were already in the
army and we were brought back from the yeshiva to fight in Lebanon. Not
only were all the students fighting both the Rashei Yeshivot (Rav Haber
and Rav Kurzweil) were fighting in Lebanon with their paratrooper
unit. We were probably the only yeshiva that was 100% fighting in that
	The reason that I bring this up is that the "hashkafa"
(philosophy) that we were taught in the yeshiva is that army service is
not merely a thing to do to find favor in the secular world but a
"le'chatchilah" thing to do . The mishnah in tractate "avot" (I think
the third chapter) lists 49 "kinyanei torah" i.e. ways to gain torah
knowledge. One of the ways listed is "noseh be'ol im chaveiro" which
means literaly helping out.  The biggest problem facing Israel is its
security and the best way to help is to join the army.
	At the time of the Lebanon war my rashei yeshivot were in their
mid 40's, they both had 6 kids and of course being rashei yeshivot gave
them countless ways of getting out of their combat units. They both
fought to stay in those units. The amount of kidush hashem that they did
while being in those combat units and the personal example that they
provided us, was and is immense. They do not view army as a necessary
waste of torah learning time but as a way augments their torah
learning. They both are high calliber talmidei chachamim and as I stated
above according to what my rabanim said is that army is one of the ways
to make the torah yours.

From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 09:56:13 -0600
Subject: Army Service

i'm really a bit confused.

if i was to tell everyone on the list that i asked my lor about carrying
in an eruv, everyone here would respect my right to follow that
opinion. they might have their own lor that said otherwise, but i would
be morally in the clear.

the chareidim in israel are not avoiding army service, they are
following the dictates of their lors - and these lors are nothing to
sneeze at, from the chazon ish, the brisker rav et al in the early days
to rav elyashiv, and rav shlomo zalman today. even rav goldricht (till
recently the rosh yeshiva of keren b'yavneh - a hesder yeshiva) was
clear that yeshiva study supersedes the obligation to army service. (rav
goldricht taught at keren b'yavneh so that those that wanted to serve in
the army could still learn - but he felt that if they were going to
learn hey shouldnt serve in the army).

now if we want to have a reasonable discussion for what the pros & cons
are on each side - what the arguments are - that would seem to be a
reasonable use of this list, but lets remember that in regard to action,
"i asked my lor" is sufficient condition.



From: "Yaakov Menken" <ny000548@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 94 03:45:12 -0500
Subject: Army Service - D'var Torah

An appropriate D'var Torah, both for Chanuka and our current discussion:

We read in Al HaNissim ["For the miracles" - the section added to the 
Amidah and Grace after Meals throughout Chanuka] that part of the great 
miracle was that G-d "delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, 
the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the 
pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners 
into the hands of those involved with Your Torah."  The first two 
phrases - referring to the weak and the few - clearly point to the 
miraculous nature of the events.  But why then does it add that the 
Chashmonaim were pure, righteous, and involved with Torah?  How does 
this add to the miracle?

For a hint at the answer, we should look at another anomoly: the Torah 
consistently fails to say that the Jews killed people "with swords".
As an example, when Israel fights against Amalek the conclusion is that 
"Yehoshua weakened Amalek and his people with the 'Pi' of the sword." 
(end of Parshas Beshalach, Ex. 17:13).  Pi, although we would translate 
it as an "edge" (and this is indeed a common meaning), literally means a 
mouth.  The Targum translates this as "with the prayer of the sword," a 
killing prayer.  The Targum claims that Yehoshua won not by using his 
sword, but rather by praying.  Throughout Torah, we find this expression 
"the 'Pi' of the sword," and Targum explains that the reference is not 
to the edge of the sword (which would involve unnecessary verbiage) but 
to a killing prayer.

[Parenthetically, the few verses before that are also worthy of note. It 
says that Moshe went up on the overlooking hill, and "whenever Moshe 
raised his hands, Israel was stronger, and whenever he lowered his 
hands, Amalek was stronger."  Rabbi Shlomo Yitchoki (Rashi) points us to 
the Talmud Rosh Hashana 29a, in the Mishna:  "Do the hands of Moshe make 
or break the war?!  Rather, it tells you that as long as Israel was 
'looking upwards' and committing their hearts to their Father in heaven, 
they were strengthened, and if not, they fell."]

Only once do we see that Israel actually killed someone "with a sword," 
and this was Bila'am, who had so recently come to curse the Jews.  Rashi 
says that this exception is not mere coincidence, but makes a crucial 
point: "[Bila'am] came upon Israel, and he traded his area of craftsmanship  
in favor of theirs, because they do not win except with their mouths, BY 
WAY OF PRAYER AND REQUESTS, and he came and grabbed their craft in order 
to curse them with his mouth.  So they too came upon him, and they 
traded their craftsmanship for that of the nations, who come with 
swords, as it says [in the blessing Yitzchok gives to Esav, Gen. 27:40] 
'by your sword you will live.'"

What "Al HaNissim" tells us is that Israel cannot rely upon its military 
might - because this is Esav's area of expertise.  Rather, we must 
remember that the victory of the pure and righteous is every bit as 
miraculous as that of the few and the weak... totally dependent upon our 
Father in heaven, to whom we must pray during these troubled times.

Yaakov Menken


From: Ira Hammerman <ELTA%<ILNCRD@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 94 00:25 IST
Subject: Praying for the Welfare of the Soldiers in the Israel Army

One of the justifications given for Yeshiva students being exempted from
Israeli army service is that their learning and prayer strengthens and
protects Israel as much as the actions of a soldier. If so, I ask the
question why in those Yeshivot and the synagogues of the Haredi
community the accepted prayer ( or for that matter any prayer) for the
welfare of the State is not said. But even assuming some ideological
justification for not praying for the welfare of the Jewish State
(although in Galut we prayed for the welfare of the worst of states at
least since the days of Jeremiah), why is no prayer said for the welfare
of our soldiers !!!
        I refer you to a detailed analysis of the issue in the excellent
and thorough book, "Gius Kehalacha" (Army Service According to the
Halacha), published by the Naamanei Torah VeAvodah Movement and the
Kibbutz Hadati, authored by Yehezkel Cohen.
        In the chapter, "Not Every One is Equal in Prayer", Akiva Eldar
describes the campaign by the religious professor Dr. Mordechai
Rottenberg to institute the prayers in the Haredi yeshivot and
synagogues.  Professor Rottenberg's son, Boaz zt'l, a graduate of the
Netiv Meir Yeshiva High School, served in the army in the Hesder
framework.  He fell in the line of his duty in an elite unit.
        In 1988 Professor Rottenberg turned to Harav Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach, who said that a prayer for the welfare of the State is
unacceptable to him because of the State's poor relation to religion.
And what about a prayer for the welfare of our soldiers? If I gave a
letter asking people to say such a prayer, he said, that would be
interpreted as support for the State, since Tzhal is part of the State.
Harav Yosef Elyashiv, similarly refused.
        Harav Shalom Masash, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem,
readily agreed to request from the community to say these prayers.  His
Askenazi colleague, Harav Yitshak Kolitz, would not agree to request
that the prayers for the welfare of the state and the well being and
safety of our soldiers.

        I will say no more.
        Ira Hammerman (retired from Army service)


End of Volume 16 Issue 83