web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Book And The Sword

Pruzansky-052512

More pointedly, Ralbag explained the verse as praising Avraham for taking with him into battle “chanichav yelidei beito,” those raised in his home and educated by him, saying it is appropriate to take into battle only those “who were trained in Avraham’s ways and values since their youth.”

In a similar context, Radak (Yehoshua 5:14) rejected the criticism of Yehoshua for abandoning his Torah study on the eve of battle as a “far-fetched exposition, for wartime is not a time for Torah study.” Further, Chazal underscored that King David’s fighters – Benayahu ben Yehoyada, Adino HaEtzni, and others – were the Sanhedrin, they were the Torah Sages of the generation.

What happened to us, to the concept of the scholar-warrior, to the notion of the man of Torah leading the Jewish nation into battle? In short, the exile robbed us of that, and over the centuries we made a virtue out of passivity, pacifism, and even surrender. We artificially created a division of labor in Jewish life between students and soldiers.

Who better to teach us this point than Yehoshua, depicted in the Torah (Shemot 33:11) as one “who never left Moshe’s tent,” the tent of study. Really? What about Moshe’s command to Yehoshua (Shemot 17:9), “choose men for us and go out to battle with Amalek”? The answer is that the battle itself is part of Torah.

Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook wrote that “the Torah personality is the fighter who conquers the land of Israel.” Only the greatest in Torah study can fully conquer the land of Israel. Indeed, there are two defining statements about Yehoshua, Moshe’s successor: “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua” (Avot 1:1), and the prophecy of Eldad and Medad in the wilderness, “Moshe will die and Yehoshua will bring Israel into the land” (Sanhedrin 17a).

The two statements are inseparable; that was Yehoshua. That was the essence of his Divine service, and completely normal. His dedication to Torah and divine service was comprehensive and not bifurcated. Such a personality, and such an endeavor, is not bitul Torah (the nullification of Torah) but rather kiyum haTorah, the very fulfillment of the Torah. Who is more suited to conquering the land of Israel and investing it with holiness than people who love Torah, Divine service and the Jewish people?

The exile took such a toll on us that we have had a hard time re-acclimating ourselves to the normalcy of Torah, with many still idealizing the division of responsibilities and incapable of merging the book and the sword.

Many persist in conforming all the aforementioned giants of Jewish life to match their pre-conceptions or agendas, to render them one-dimensional figures that ultimately diminish their greatness. They denude them of their military exploits and ensconce them in the House of Study, as if the two are mutually exclusive. They once might have been – during the exile – but today, the halls of the Hesder yeshivot are populated with roshei yeshiva who were captains, majors and colonels in the military – and who better to guide the Torah Jew through the maze of modern life than the contemporary scholar-warrior?

Rav Shlomo Aviner once identified three cardinal mitzvot that are fulfilled through IDF service: saving Jewish lives, conquest of the land of Israel, and Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of God’s name that is engendered when the nations of the world see that Jewish blood is not cheap.

There is another Kiddush Hashem as well – when all Jews see that the Torah can be the foundation of a modern state and that the Torah Jew can serve God in every sphere of life. Those mitzvot are certainly vital to an individual Jew’s self-definition as they are to the existence of a Jewish state.

For sure, a free society can willingly choose to exempt certain Torah scholars from military service as it exempts others for frivolous reasons. But the ideal of the scholar-warrior should be nurtured and cherished as the one best capable of ensuring Israel’s defense and its sacred standing. And it forever deprives the secular Israeli of his persistent complaint, whether sincere or contrived, that “ultra-Orthodox” Jews are parasites who contribute nothing to society and live off the blood and sweat of others. We can hold the book and sword together and achieve greatness in both; can they?

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Book And The Sword”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Police set up roadblocks throughout the Sharon region and beyond to track down terrorists believed to have infiltrated the area.
Arab Terrorist Attack Foiled Near Netanya
Latest Indepth Stories
0.5-Shekel-hatasham-RJP

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

champions

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Pope's visit to Israel.

There is a certain unwordliness to the pope’s call for a two-state solution, an obliviousness to the reality on the ground.

A modern-day Jewish warrior in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Joshua and David.

One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.

Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.

A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.

With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.

The Wall Street Journal last month featured a front-page article titled “After These Jewish Prayer Services, Things Come ‘To Life’ at Open Bar,” with the sub-heading, “To Woo Worshippers, Synagogues Compete with Food and Booze.”

In the wake of the presidential election, American Jews must once again ask a fundamental question that seems to defy both societal trends and a clear resolution: why do Jews overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, year after year, election after election?

The notion of the “Reagan Democrat” is one cliché that should be permanently retired.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-book-and-the-sword/2012/05/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: