Volume 16 Number 85
                       Produced: Fri Nov 25 12:15:26 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Army - More Recent Opinions
         [Shaul Wallach]
Hakarat Hatov again
         [Zvi Weiss]
Interpreting Rav Kook
         [Pinchas Roth]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 94 23:36:06 IST
Subject: Army - More Recent Opinions

    Several people have questioned the relevance of Ha-Rav Kook's
letter during World War I about exempting yeshiva students from service
in the British army to the situation here in Erez Yisrael. As we have
noted, the controversy arose in 1948 when some Haredim cited the letter
and his son R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L strongly objected. Even though I have
already voiced my opinion that Ha-Rav Kook ZS"L did intend to give
his opinion universal applicability, it is certainly worthwhile to cite
more recent opinions as well.

    Among the many opinions that have been expressed by halachic
authorities, I have chosen here to present only those of two of them -
R. Zvi Yehuda Kook ZS"L and R. Zvi Pesah Frank ZS"L.

    Ha-Rav Frank was originally loyal to the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem,
but after World War I he started to cooperate with the Zionists. He
was instrumental in setting up the Chief Rabbinate and in inviting
Ha-Rav Kook to Jerusalem, and succeeded Ha-Rav Kook himself as Chief
Rabbi of Jerusalem after his death in 1935. Since he combined both
the old and new worlds, his opinions carry special significance.

    Here, then, is what Ha-Rav Frank ZS"L wrote on army service for
yeshiva students in his introduction to the book "Hilkot Medina" by R.
Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg (Jerusalem, 5713), after he discussed the
exemption for women (p. 14):

      And similarly, on the proofs that one of the rabbis brought from
    the words of our Rabbis Z"L that Benei Torah and the Benei Yeshivot
    are required to go to the army. Now when we look at the state of
    Judaism in the ancient generations and see the difference between
    the army of today and the army of the ancients, it becomes apparent
    that we cannot compare them at all. For we read (Shabbat 64a): Said
    Rav Nahman, said Rabba Bar Avuh: Moshe said to Israel, Perhaps you
    have returned to your former bad bays?" They said to him (Num.
    31:49), "... no man of us is missing." He said to them, "If so, what
    is the atonement for?" They said to him, "If we are freed of sin, we
    are not freed of thoughts of sin." And Rashi explains: "No man of us
    is missing"; that is, nothing is missing of Jewish law. And
    likewise in the Yalqut Shim`oni on the generation of Dawid: Said
    Rabbi Yehoshua of Sikhnin in the name of Rabbi Lewi, "Even the
    youngsters who were in the days of Dawid, before they tasted the
    taste of sin, used to know to expound the Torah in 49 ways pure
    and in 49 ways impure." So we see how lofty was their level in the
    virtues of the Torah, and certainly there was no concern that anyone
    in their company would turn bad and lose his world because he was in
    their company. So what comparison can you lay out with the army of
    today, most of whom is cut off from the Torah of Israel, not that he
    does not know to expound the Torah in 49 ways, but that he has no
    ways at all in the Torah of Israel. And it is known that most of the
    fearful and wholesome who go into the army come out striped and
    spotted with nothing wholesome in them; so that according to the
    ruling of the Rambam it is forbidden for a man of Israel to dwell
    among the environment of those who incite and seduce; it is
    certainly a holy obligation to request insistently that the Benei
    Yeshivot be released from this service so that they can be in Israel
    students of the Torah, who preserve the world and are necessary for
    all of Israel as air is to breathe.

We see here that Ha-Rav Frank, while ignoring all the considerations
of obligatory war, etc., states flatly that according to the Rambam, a
Ben Torah is not even permitted to serve in an irreligious environment.
His final consideration is identical to one that Ha-Rav Kook brought
up earlier - that yeshiva students are necessary for the survival of
the Jewish people.

    Now let us quote some of what R. Zvi Yehuda Kook ZS"L wrote about
service for yeshiva students. What follows are some excerpts from
his talks and letters, from the recent book "Sidrei Zava We-Yeshiva"
(Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim, Jerusalem, 5753). Before quoting them,
however, it is worth summing up briefly R. Zvi Yehuda's views in
general on the subject, based on a preliminary look at the book.

    First of all, he emphasizes that there is no "exemption" at all from
army service for anyone, in the case of an obligatory war (Milhemet
Mizwa), at least the kind that involves saving Jews whose lives are in
danger. In this, he appears to interpret some of the sources that his
father quoted differently and holds that they do not apply to this
kind of war. It follows, in his view, that all yeshiva students would
be required to serve in this kind of Milhemet Mizwa. However, he also
rules that only when they are really needed in the war effort are
they required to serve, and that the army commanders are the ultimate
authorities who decide whether or not they are needed. He therefore
justifies the current arrangement whereby full-time yeshiva students
(that is, those who are honestly pursuing full-time Torah study)
receive deferments, simply because the army agrees that they are not

    Now let us take up the question of Hillul Hashem (Profanation of the
Name) which is closely tied with the hatred that Eli Turkel mentioned.
Instead of going into halachic arguments of just what Hillul Hashem is,
let us simply read here what R. Zvi Yehuda has to say about it (p. 14):

    Question: There are those who claim that in this there is Hillul
    Hashem in the eyes of "secular" people?

    Ha-Rav: There is a need to explain to them in all force and strength
    the value of building a large number of Talmidei Hakhamim, great men
    of the Torah, for the People of Israel. All these talks are talks
    of weakness, which do not increase guarding one's tongue. On the
    contrary, cancelling the Torah (Bittul Torah) is the Hillul Hashem,
    and the great Qiddush Hashem (Sanctifying the Name) is to magnify
    the Torah and to make it great! We need courage to explain to the
    people who are called nonreligious how necessary and essential it
    is that there be men of culture in Israel. ("Sihot" 12, Talmud Torah
    2, pp. 49-50).

    Further on we read about his views on the relative merits of the
Hesder yeshivot and the full-time ("high") yeshivot (p. 47):

    Question: Is there, in the studies in a Hesder yeshiva, a side of
    Bittul Torah because of the period of service in the army, as
    precisely study there is a priori (Lekhathila)?

    Ha-Rav: Regarding the Hesder yeshiva, those who are ready and
    capable to become very great in the virtues of the Torah and its
    guidance, should be absorbed and fixed in the high yeshivot for
    a length of periods of years, according to the agreement and
    recognition of those who stand at the head of our army system.
    For the Hesder yeshivot there is certainly a value and need in
    our situation and times. The special individual clarifications
    are spelled out, since their faces are not the same and their
    personalities are not the same (Berakhot 58). (Letter of Rabbeinu,
    12 Av 5737).

And further (p. 48):

    The high yeshivot, which are wholesome in perseverance of the
    Torah and its guidance, they are the main ones for magnifying the
    Torah and its guidance. And the Hesder yeshivot, arranged with
    consideration of the military necessity, they are the ones of
    secondary value in the levels of elevation of the Torah, with the
    need and importance that they have according to the reality now.
    (Letter of Rabbeinu, 28 Iyyar 5738)

    There is no comparing the value of the Hesder yeshivot to that of
    the high yeshivot. Delaying those who are fit for the high yeshivot,
    is like the sin of Bittul Torah. (Letter of Rabbeinu, 8 Adar 5738)

    From these excerpts it is clear that R. Zvi Yehuda Kook ZS"L, just
like his father ZS"L, recognized the supreme importance of uninterrupted
Torah study, above that of the studies in the Hesder yeshivot. At the
same time, however, we see how much importance he attaches to the Hesder
yeshivot, and leaves the decision of which kind to attend to a careful
judgment in each individual case.

    In conclusion, I think it is time to adopt the tolerant attitude
that R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L demonstrates towards both the Haredi and the
Hesder types of yeshivot. Each of them has its own role in serving
the spiritual and physical needs of our nation.




From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 1994 10:41:38 -0500
Subject: Hakarat Hatov again

I commented earlier that there is a perception that the Chareidim do not care
about anyone else except themselves in Aretz.  This is based upon the following
1. The fact that chareidim reject Hesder as a viable option for ANYONE who is
  chareidi..  The result is that people learning in Yeshivot are perceived as
  nothing more than draft-dodgers.
2. The fact that the Chareidi community does not 'celebrate' together with the
  rest of the country.  On the Yom Hazikaron for the casualties of prior wars,
  there is a perception that the Chareidi does not pay due respect.  On Yom
  Ha'Atzma'ut, there is the notion that the Chareidi does not care and would
  be just as happy if the State had never been established.
3. The fact that the state funnels a fair amount of money to Yeshivot and si-
  milar institutions.  The State does NOT have to do that.  All of the 
  arguements advanced by Chareidi people who compare Yeshivot to other educa-
  tional institutions lose sight of (a) these other institutions are under some
  sort of gov't control or supervision; who supervises the Yeshivot in any way?
  (b) the value of Yeshivot is only truly apparent to those who value them, to
  begin with.  Telling a Chiloni about the great educational rigor of Yeshivot
  when the chiloni (a) sees the Yeshivot as the home of Draft Dodgers and (b)
  does not really believe in what is taught there is likely to be an exercise
  in futility.
4. similarly, the fact that if the husband learns in Kollel and the wife is the
  "Mefarneset Nishpacha", she may be eligible for special tax treatment.

This leads to a picture of a community that is perfectly willing to suck off
whatever it can GET from the society at large while [being perceived as] offer-
ing NOTHING in return.  Is it any surprise that there can be such "bad blood" 
vis-a-vis such a community?

Possible solutions that I feel we should discuss in this list include:
1. What is a halachically acceptable way of 'celebrating' with the non-frum
  community at large?  Perhaps, on Yom Hazikaron, there can be mass "learn-in"
  events (on the topics related to Kiddush Hashem) which are help "L'iluy
  Nishmat HaKedoshim" who fell defending the land.  These events could be at
  least as well publicized as the Yarchei Kalla held every year.  At the moment
  that the siren goes off, instead of the "moment of silence" which is really
  a non-Jewish idea (I think) -- have in each "learn-in" the recitation of
  Kaddish D'rabbanan by a relative whose spouse/sibling/parent was a casualty.
  Truly can one imagine the impact of such an event?  Similarly, on Yom Ha'Atz-
  ma'ut, have learn-in sessions dedicated to a theme such as Hilchot Melachim
  where the idea is GRATITUDE that Hashem has given us the opportunity to have
  a Median and it is up to US to either "retreat to the trenches" and let the
  Chilonim take over this gift or re-assert ourselves in a positive manner.
  Note that I am not talking here about special tefillot or hallel -- more on 
  the level of not saying tachanun and having a se'udat ho'da'ah in thank-
  fulness for what we DO have and with hope for the future.  In addition to
  how we should look at ourselves, this is much more likely to be positively
  perceived by others as evidence that chareidim *care* about the rest of
2. What is wrong with Hesder from a chareidi point of view?  Is it honest to
  assert that EVERYONE should go to Yeshiva full time rather than serve?  Per-
  haps there should be a system where boys are intensively tested after 2 or
  3 years of intensive learning and those who do not "cut it" are told that
  they should go into hesder.  What is wrong with such an approach?
3. How should chareidim "campaign" for gov't monies?  Is it done properly?
  Can it be done in a "nicer" manner?

Perhaps, these matters could go a way toward changing the perception of the
Chareidi community in Aretz.



From: Pinchas Roth <roth@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 94 13:22:00 PST
Subject: Interpreting Rav Kook

Zvi Weiss writes (v16 n77):
>Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook Zt"l-- according to various authorities is considered
>to have BEST understood his father's thoughts and philosophies. To assert
>that his opinion/understanding of his father's position re Army Service
>is not to be followed because of one's own subjective personal understanding
>of a written document seems a bit difficult to understand.

Without entering the Army-Yeshivah dicussion, Iwould like to point out
that Zvi's comment is not necessarily absolutely true. In his book
"Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism", Avi Ravitsky
quotes Rav Yaakov Ariel, one of Rav Z.Y.'s close students, as saying:
 Rav Zvi Yehudah's greatness was in the translation of his father's deep
and broad philosophy, both of education and of settlement, into
practical terms.  Though he was not a man of action, he managed to focus
his father's ideas into central points." (My trans. and slight editing)
 In other words, Rav Z.Y. did not transmit his father's thought
verbatim, but gave it his own interpretation. This is obviously not the
only legitimate interpretation of Rav Kook.Zvi Yaron z"l, Michael Zvi
Nehorai and Rav Yehudah Amital are examples of students of Rav Kook who
interpreted him differently.  I don't think Rav Z.Y.'s comments should
open and close any discussion of Rav A.Y.Kook.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach.
Pinchas Roth   <roth@...>


End of Volume 16 Issue 85