Volume 16 Number 95
                       Produced: Tue Nov 29 23:55:34 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chareidim in the Army
         [Esther R Posen]
Haredi Yeshivot
         [Shaul Wallach]
Israeli Army
         [Eli Turkel]
Martial arts and Halacha
         [Joshua Proschan]
Public service/army
         [David Charlap]


From: <eposen@...> (Esther R Posen)
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 1994 11:01:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Chareidim in the Army

To be honest, I have been following the "Israeli Army" discussion with
more amusement than interest for I strongly believe that this is one of
the most divisive issues IN ISRAEL today.  I also believe that
compromise cannot be the answer to this issue (despite the success of

I do have some food for thought to add to the fray here.  So, as usual,
here goes...

Since July, I have a girl from Israel who is living with our family and
watching our children.  She just completed her army service and is
totally non-religous.  Needless to say, she has learned alot about
religous people since she came to stay with us.  Our agreement was that
she keep kosher as strictly as we do while she is in our home and ditto
with shabat.

She says that when she used to pass through Bnei Brak on the way to her
job in the army she used to feel sorry for all the people in black, but
she does not feel sorry for them anymore...  So we've accomplished
something, but that is not the point of this post.

Orly (that's her name) says that she cannot see how it is possible to be
as religous as we are (her perception of whatever that is) and serve in
the army.  She says she knows a number of religous boys who became much
less religous during their army service.  I don't want to embarass her
since some of our list has met her, but she astounded me when she told
me how many married men she met in the army offered to leave their wives
to marry her.  What a great environment for a yeshiva kid.

That's part of the point folks.  Chareidim BELIEVE in sheltering their
own from non-religous influences - especially kids.  And that's what 18,
19 and 20 year olds are today.  The other day I was browsing the book "A
Day In The Life Of Israel" (a lovely book), in one selection the book
explained how the Israeli Army "discovered" that young male army
recruits learn more quickly from female instructors than they do from
male instructors hence the proliferation of female instructors in the
Israeli Army..  What an amazing discovery! And what a great place for
Joe Yeshiva.

Esther Posen


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 94 20:30:16 IST
Subject: Haredi Yeshivot

     Implicit in our discussion of yeshivot and the army seems to be
an assumption that any Haredi boy who wants to go to a yeshiva is
free to do so and can stay there as long as he wants essentially
without being held to account, as if it were almost like a refuge
from the army. Thus Zvi Weiss writes, for example:

>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?  Perhaps 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?

     Elsewhere I have explained why, given the current spiritual
situation prevailing today in Israel (not to mention elsewhere), I feel
that anyone who is able to learn full time should do so. But what
concerns me more here is the last question.

    Zvi's question appears to assume that yeshiva students are not
"intensively tested after 2 or 3 years." The experience we have had with
our two older boys, as well as what we have heard from friends, suggests
otherwise. First of all, it is not easy to get into the yeshivot in the
first place. Space is limited and there is intense competition for every
place. Not only are candidates for the junior yeshivot finishing up 8th
grade subjected to oral examinations over what they have learned, but
their teachers and principals are asked for appraisals of their
character to see whether they meet the standards of the yeshiva. After 3
years of junior yeshiva comes the senior yeshiva, and I assume that the
same process applies there as well. Even talented students whose
behavior is inappropriate can be expelled, and I know of Haredi familes
whose boys are sent to Hesder yeshivot, or even go for Bagrut (high
school diploma) because they are not fit to learn in the yeshivot.

    And finally, at least in the junior yeshivot, there are indeed
graded examinations.




From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 94 14:44:44 +0200
Subject: Israeli Army

    Shaul writes:

>> 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,

     I am a little confused. No one is claiming that army service is easy.
I am the one who gives credit to the soldiers that defend israel while
Shaul claims that it is equally hard to learn in a yeshiva. Yes one does
not always get enough sleep in the army. This is much more true for those
in infantry units than for non-combat units that these students probably were.
In the morning the religious have to get up even earlier than the others
for prayers. One normally has about half an hour. If this is not enough
then they have to get up even earlier. Religious duties are done in addition
to army duties not instead. I don't know what kind of humiliating treatment
they received. Many soldiers receive them and it is an acknowledged problem
in the army. Yes the israeli army is not perfect. If they received the
humiliations because they were religious then that is a fact of Israeli
society. I don't like it but I live with it. For every story that Shaul
gives about the problems with the army I can supply a story in which the
religious soldier provided a kiddush hashem by his example. Many secular
people meet their first religious person in the army and that experience
affects them for the rest of both their lives.

      I just came back from a meeting with my son's rabbis at his hesder
yeshiva in Karnei Shomron. The rosh yeshiva explained various points of
the military commitment and told of various promises that the military
made that were not kept. The atmosphere was very much that we are
disappointed and we will pressure the army to keep their promises. Their
was no hint that if the army doesn't keep its side than we won't serve.
That was not an option. Yes there are difficulties and we work to overcome
them but we don't use them as an excuse to avoid army service and our
commitment to the land of Israel.

     With regard to carrying guns on shabbat, Rav Moshe Feinstein
explicitly allows it in Gush Etzion and other places where their is an
immediate danger. I don't think that people living in Hebron, Gush Katif
or other such cities use that as an excuse to lower their opinion of
other soldiers that put their life on the line. If Shaul honestly feels
that living in Bnei Brak or Petach Tikvah or Tel Aviv is just as
dangerous as serving in Gaza or in Lebanon I am left speechless except
to suggest that he visit Netzarim once or talk to soldiers stationed at
that junction.

  Also, I feel that Shaul Wallach is missing the point with all his
responsa.  I am not arguing that no people learning in yeshivas should
be exempt from the army. I fully agree that we need as many yeshiva
students as we can get.  My main point is that in the US most kollel
boys learn for a few years (each one as much as he feels is reasonable)
and then they go on to professions, business etc. As Chaim Twersky
points out these people are the backbone for the supprt of the yeshiva
day schools. In Israel, in contrast, the vast majority stay in kollels
for ever. Those that leave are the exception. I am personally convinced
that if tomorrow the draft ended in Israel that most of these boys would
go into business just as they do in America. These are all religious
boys who want to learn a few years and then are finished. Only the top
few are capable or are interested in becoming roshei yeshiva etc. In
Israel they stay in the kollel beyond what they would like because
otherwise they are subject to the draft.  If one goes into Bnei Brak was
sees that the majority of store owners are either women or "knitted
yarmulka". The police would check others to see if they had permission
from the army to work.

  The result is that local yeshivas cannot raise any significant money
from the local population (again it is worse in litvish/yeshiva circles
than in the chasidic world). A while ago the financial difficulties of
Ponovich Yeshiva were well publicized with the Roshei yeshiva taking a
pay cut. The yeshivas live mainly on donations from the U.S. With the
Reichman's having their own difficulties and real estate not doing well
in general these donations have decreased considerably. The yeshivas
also get some money from the Israeli government. Since the religious
parties are now in opposition to the ruling government this has also
decreased.  In Jerusalem the religious parties dominate the local
government and so contributions have increased to the yeshivas, but
mainly on the elementary school level. There has been many threats that
some yeshivas would be forced into bankruptcy but I haven't heard of any
cases in which this has really happened. Should the Likud win the next
election it will improve the financial situation of the
yeshivas. However, it is clear that the continuing growth of the charedi
world will outstrip and possible increases from government sources. A
Likud/Labor coalition (unlikely) would most probably kill many yeshivas
as then the religious parties would have no clout at all.

Finally Shaul writes:

>>     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."

    That is all true on one's own time, money and effort not at the
expense of others. Not everyone who wishes to assume the mantle of a
talmid chacham has the right to do so. Furthermore, no one is talking
about taking a young boy out of high school. There comes a time when the
yeshiva boy already apreciates what a posek is. I don't think most
people would care if yeshiva boys went into the army at age 20 or 22 or
even 25 rather than 18. One continually grows in learning but again not
at the expense of others. I once read that in the yeshiva of the Chatam
Sofer the boys would remain 5-8 years before it was expected that they
would move on to rabbinic positions. By the way the 24,000 students of
Rabbi Akivah participated in the Bar Kochba revolution.



From: Joshua Proschan <0004839378@...>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 94 22:20 EST
Subject: Martial arts and Halacha

  The recent discussions of problems with martial arts schools omit some 
of the most serious.  

1.  Avodah zorah

  Many schools, particularly the Japanese ones, have a shrine that 
students must bow to, as an act of worship, at the beginning and end of 
each lesson.  Sometimes these shrines are virtual; sometimes they 
consist of tangible objects.  (A news magazine reported last year that 
some Japanese-owned companies in this country have similar shrines in 
their lobbies that employees are expected to bow to.)  This is avodah 
zorah, and completely forbidden.  It may be forbidden to study in such a 
school even without bowing, owing to the presumption that all students 
conform to this practice.  CYLOR. 

  One leading Japanese grand master stated that these religious 
observances were only for the Japanese students, and that foreigners 
should improve their character in whatever way was appropriate in their 
religions.  Other masters are not that tolerant.  Often their western 
students, when they begin teaching, are far more fanatic than their
masters.  Junior instructors are especially notorious for wanting the 
new students to suffer through everything they had to.  Make sure that 
school, in general, has a tolerant attitude; otherwise the pressure may 
be more than a child--or adult--can withstand.

2.  Bowing

  The discussions of bowing as a greeting overlook a critical factor: 
whether the person is standing or kneeling.  A standing bow may be 
equivalent to a handshake and completely innocuous.  A kneeling bow, 
which is standard at the beginning and end of classes in many oriental 
schools of martial arts, is not.  There are prohibitions against bowing 
while kneeling, especially on a bare floor.  (Karate schools prefer 
plain wooden floors.)  CYLOR.  

  {This prohibition is the reason many of those who kneel during musaf 
on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur put down a mat of some sort to kneel on, 
even if there is a rug or other covering on the floor.}  

3.  Other

    There are mitzvos concerning protecting one's health and well-being 
that must be considered.  Sitting on the knees can damage them.  Bare-
foot exercise can injure the feet.  Extended isometrics, which are 
fundamental in several schools, causes circulatory problems for those 
over 30.  Conditioning techniques can cause bone and nerve damage.  Some 
teachers present unacceptable attitudes toward the use of force. ... 

Joshua Proschan


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 94 11:44:08 EST
Subject: Public service/army

<turkel@...> (Eli Turkel) writes:
>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...

But is Abaye also in Ely's family?  If Abaye is Rabbah's brother's
son, then yes.  If he's Rabbah's sister's son, then he's a blood
relative but not of the same family (family membership inherits from
the father, not the mother.)  If he's Rabbah's wife's brother's son,
then there's no blood relationship at all.  All of these relationships
are "nephew-uncle" relationships in English.  Do you know which of
these three is the proper relationship?

Nevertheless, you point regardin public tzedakah work is well taken.
I don't disagree with that at all.


End of Volume 16 Issue 95