Volume 16 Number 89
                       Produced: Mon Nov 28 23:19:06 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Shaul Wallach]
Army Service vs. Haredi Charity
         [Shaul Wallach]
Public service/army
         [Eli Turkel]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 94 13:01:51 IST
Subject: Army

    Zvi Weiss has brought up a number of points and questions about army
service for yeshiva students. While many of his points have already been
answered in postings that have yet to appear (as of this writing), I
still feel that some of what he has written calls for correction.

    First of all, Zvi believes that I am talking about a "blanket
exemption". I kindly ask Zvi to reread Part 1 of my initial posting,
where I explicitly supported rehabilitating Haredi army units for those
who don't really belong in the yeshivot. All the sources we have
presented deal with genuine Talmidei Hakhamim, so please let there be no
further doubt about this.

    Zvi asks:

>1. From Rav Kook's letter, it was clear that he felt that drafting B'nei
>   Yeshiva would cause Yeshivot to close down.  Is that really the case
>   in Aretz?

    Yes. Rav Shach has said that any change in the status of the
yeshivot would bring them to leave the country. Perhaps it is worth
recalling that the Netzi"v preferred to let Yeshivat Volozhin close down
rather than to introduce secular subjects (something that according to
his nephew R.  Boruch Epstein ZS"L, author of Torah Temima, was the idea
of fellow Jews, as he tells in his book "My Uncle, the Netziv", if I am
not mistaken).

>2. Rav Kook's letter was addressed to a British Government. ...

    Please check this again. To be exact, it was addressed to the Chief
Rabbi Dr. Joseph Hertz ZS"L. As for the treatment given to religious
Jews in the Israeli army, what was true in the days of Ha-Rav Frank ZS"L
unfortunately still seems to be true today.

>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?

    I don't see what difference the boy's motivation makes. As long as
he really is learning full time, he is a Talmid Hakham and is entitled
to a deferment. See also Pesahim 50b - "for out of doing it not for its
sake he comes to do it for its sake."

    We have already presented R. Zvi Yehuda's views as reflected in his
talks and letters from his later years. Here I will only repeat that
R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L felt that the situation in 1948 was exceptional in
that the Yishuv - in Jerusalem, at least - was literally in immediate
danger for its life, and that this required the drafting of everyone who
was able to fight. The situation today is different, as he said, and if
the army itself says it can do without the yeshiva students, there is no
justification for drafting them.

    As for King David's Army, I think Ha-Rav Frank ZS"L answered this
well enough. Precisely because today's army is not composed of righteous
people as it was then is a compelling reason - though not the most basic
one - why Talmidei Hakhamim should avoid it.

    It will indeed be instructive to compare the views of Ha-Rav
Lichtenstein Shelit"a on the Hesder yeshivot to those of Ha-Rav Zvi
Yehuda ZS"L. As for the the letter of Ha-Rav Zevin ZS"L, it was written
in Adar 5708 at the height of the siege of Jerusalem and need no more
apply today than what R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L wrote at the same time. Also, I
have heard that the letter, which is signed anonymously by "one of the
Rabbanim", was only later on ascribed to him. Perhaps people closer to
this can clarify it for us.

>Finally, I wuold ask Shaul:  how many of the boys who "sit and learn" intend
>to truly make this their life's work?  ...

    To me it does not matter. We can never know at what stage of a boy's
studies his potential for leadership may develop. The fact is that at the
moment he is a Talmid Hakham. Even if he is not destined himself to become
a leader, he is at least more likely to build a Jewish home based on the
Torah and perhaps his sons will be leaders. And even if this not be the
case either, then at the very least he will be more likely to appreciate
the value of the Torah and preserve his Jewish identity and that of his
seed, more than someone who learns Torah less than him. This reminds me
of what someone posted here some time ago about one of the Torah leaders
saying about the yeshiva where only one out of some 500 students would
grow up to be a Poseq, but that the other 499 would appreciate what a
Poseq is (please correct me if I didn't get it exactly, but the idea is

    We might ask the same question about the 24,000 students that Rabbi
Aqiva had after he studied for 24 years, or about the many thousands
who studied in the yeshivot in Babylon. They were no insignificant
portion of the Jewish population, yet we know nothing about them, save
for those select few whose names are recorded for us in the Talmud and
the works of the Geonim and Rishonim. But they too would have been
exempt from army service, and for what justification? The answer takes
us back to Rav Kook ZS"L, his son R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L and Rav Frank
ZS"L. Studying the Torah itself is of supreme value - as the Mishna
said every day in the morning says, "...and Talmud Torah is equivalent
to them all."

     Therefore, even if it should turn out that these boys leave the
yeshiva later on in life - and go into the army for shorter periods
of service, if at all - the Torah they learn now is still a net asset
for us of immeasurable value. When two thirds of Israeli youth get
next to nothing today of any real Jewish education or even Jewish
identity, it is essential that we exploit every means that we have
to ensure that more and more Jewish boys learn full time in yeshivot.
Every hour of their study makes a significant contribution to the
survival of the Jewish people in the long run.




From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 94 19:52:13 IST
Subject: Army Service vs. Haredi Charity

    I am quite impressed with the zeal with which my colleague Jeffrey
Woolf expresses his opinions. However, a few of his statements appear
in my mind to require qualification. Here, too, I am not speaking out
of a halachic perspective which exempts Talmidei Hakhamim from all
other public service, as I have already outlined elsewhere.

    First, he speaks of the arguments and presentation as if they were
mine. This is not true. When the issue came up in the past in other
forums I had to ask several rabbis (including one with a strong Zionist
leaning) why Talmudic scholars are exempt from service at all, because
I didn't know myself. I am merely presenting what I learned from others,
including Rav Kook ZS"L and his son R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L, and the credit
belongs to them, not to me.

    Jeffrey refers to some assumption that "learning alone will protect
us...". I don't see this in what I wrote. What I did say was that "the
Torah we learn does its part in helping us defend ourselves...", and
relied on Rav Kook's letter for this.

    Jeffrey also appears to assume that I object to the army and don't
serve in it, if to judge from what he writes:

>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.

    If so, then it is inaccurate, since I have been working here at
Bar-Ilan for the last 11 years and could not have done so without
becoming an Israeli citizen and serving in the army. Granted, I went
straight to Hag"a (civil defense) where I hold several odd jobs, but
I have had guard duty on election days, and others in my unit (who do
not have 6 children) have had it in Gaza, too.

    As for the police and law enforcement in general, there is a
second side to the coin. Year after year Benei Beraq, along with its
"distinction" of being literally the poorest city in Israel, receives
the award for the country's lowest crime rate. To this day we have no
police station of our own, only a few officers on duty at the fire
station, because we don't need it.

    Now that Jeffrey has mentioned the Nahlat Shiva attack in Jerusalem,
it is worth noting that the third ambulance to arrive was one operated
by a Haredi volunteer organization founded by Rabbi Gelbstein 6 years
ago for the main purpose of identifying victims of such attacks. As
Habad's Sihat Ha-Shavua` for Parashat Toledot describes, the members
number some 150 "Avrechim" (married yeshiva students) in Jerusalem and
Benei Beraq. They arrived at the scene of the attack on the 405 bus on
the way to Jerusalem a few years ago even before the rescue and first
aid teams. And after the recent attack at Diezengoff Square, they worked
around the clock caring for the injured and then identifying all 22
victims. Their dedicated work in such trying circumstances has won
national acclaim. I know what their work is about because it is my main
job in the army, and we have had a joint exercise with them in Benei
Beraq. It is noteworthy that it was they who performed the difficult
task of identification rather than the corresponding people in the army,
since they are more expert at it and made it to the scene first.

    As for Mada (Magen David Adom), it is also worth pointing out that
the recent campaign to stop the closing of the Mada station in Ramat
Gan was lead by the mayor of Benei Beraq. The reason is that the
station relays emergency calls to a large number of Hazala volunteers
in Benei Beraq, whose prompt arrival on the scene (average of less
than 2 minutes) has meant the difference between life and death for
many, many stricken people. One of our sons' Talmud Torah teachers
is such a volunteer, and he has interrupted classes many times upon
receiving calls on his beeper in order to save lives. Another of our
sons' teachers, after working daytime in school, spends the evening
working as a volunteer at Ezer Mi-Zion in Benei Beraq. This national
organization, along with others of its type founded by Haredim,
provides support for the sick and their families, as well as medical
services at night and on Shabbat and Hag by non-Jewish doctors. These
doctors, who come from Umm El-Fahm, contribute themselves from their
salary to Ezer Mi-Zion, out of recognition for its humanitarian work.

    Jeffrey says, "Let Shaul put his money." We put it on Ezer Mi-Zion,
and so can you, since they truly deserve your support in stretching a
helping hand out to people in need.




From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 94 14:10:30 +0200
Subject: Public service/army

Yaakov Menken writes:

>> 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.

    I beg to differ. Learning Torah is the highest of mitzvot. However,
this by itself does not make it a public mitzvah, serving the community,
"tzorchei tzibbur".

1. In the prayer Yukum Pirkum there are several parts. One is a prayer
   for the heads of the yeshivot, head of the kallah etc. their students
   and others that learn Torah. There is another one for those that
   provide lights for the synagogues, wine for havdallah etc. and those
   involved in "tzorchei tzibbur". Learning Torah and "tzorchei tzibbur"
   are both important and one can debate their relative merits but they
   are not the same !

2. The Talmud states that Rabbah died at an early age because he was a
   descendant of Ely and that family was cursed. However, his nephew
   Abaye lived longer because in addition to being head of the yeshiva
   he also was in charge of the charity fund and that extra mitzva saved
   him.  We take it for granted that Rabbah gave Tzedakah. However, in
   some cases public service with charity is a higher level than
   learning Torah.

3. On Chol Hamoed certain activities are permitted. One is activities
   for the public. Private learning is not in this category. One who
   wants to write his notes on learning on Chol haMoed is permitted
   because it is lost otherwise (Devar ha-aved) not because his private
   notes are useful for the whole community.

4. There are several differences in Halacha between public learning
   (Talmid Torah Derabbim) and private learning. As one example, the
   Chatam Sofer was requested by his elderly mother to visit him as she
   had not seen him in many years, however this was a lengthy trip. He
   sent his question to several other gedolim who requested that
   visiting his mother would close the yeshiva for an extended period of
   time and that would supersede the mitzva of obeying one's
   mother. However, his own private learning would be superseded by his
   mother's reasonable request.

   Many mitzvot are are added to the credit of the community that does
not imply that they are "tzorchei tzibbur". In addition I strongly feel
(though without any proof) that a deed is considered a community deed
only if that was the intention of the doer. Thus, for example, if
someone wanted to dig a pit strictly for himself on Chol hamoed but that
indirectly the general community would benefit that would not be
permitted on the grounds of "tzorchei tzibbur". Similarly one who learns
for his own benefit cannot claim that it is a public benefit.

    Similarly until this generation it was not considered appropriate
for one learning by himself to receive community funds. Though not being
a historian I have heard that the Vilna gaon was the only one who was
not a community leader or a student to such a position, who received
community funding. Otherwise funding was giving to Rabbis, teachers,
judges and other people providing a direct ! benefit to the
community. Obviously, the community also gave funds to students studying
with the potential to become community leaders. As Rav Karo states if we
don't have lambs we won't have sheep (see Rambam, Hilichot Talmus Torah
4:3 and Kesef Mishma).



End of Volume 16 Issue 89