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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘universal draft’

The Winds of Change

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

There was an amazing editorial by Rabbi Moshe Grylak in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine, in which hereflected on the newly elected Israeli Knesset. He applauded the fact that so many members of the new Knesset will be observant Jews. In fact, he pointed out that it has almost become fashionable for a political party to have at least one religious Jew on their list. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid has two rabbis who will be sitting members in the Knesset. He contrasted that to an earlier time when wearing a Kipa in the Knesset was seen as anything but an asset. Here is how he put it:

I, for one, feel this is a refreshing change. It tells us that the kippah on the head of an MK does not, in and of itself, frighten the secular public in Eretz Yisrael the way it once did. Two weeks ago Yair Lapid, head of the celebrated new Yesh Atid party, declared publicly and unabashedly that he believes in G‑d and in Divine involvement in earthly affairs, a departure from the faith of his father, Tommy Lapid, who was an avowed atheist.

A journalist from the left-leaning Haaretz once told me that in her opinion, Tommy Lapid didn’t hate the hareidim so much as he looked down on them pityingly, considering them victims of some mass delusion. Yet his beloved son Yair is standing up and bareheadedly declaring his adherence to that very “delusion.” How that belief affects his personal life, if at all, is not the question now.

The point is that he felt he could make such a statement without fear of losing the election, and that attests to a change in the public’s attitude. In the past, one such remark by a candidate could have lost him any chance of sitting in the Knesset. Indeed! An astounding 40 or more members of the Knesset will be Kipa wearing Jews. That is at least 1/3 of the Knesset! That is a Kiddush HaShem!

But as a card carrying Haredi, Rabbi Grylak considers this to be a mixed blessing. While applauding this new statistic he laments the fact that so many of these new members seem to be opposed to the views of ‘Daas Torah’ on the subject of drafting Haredim into the army. The Haredi position is well known by now. They are opposed to drafting Haredim.

How opposed? It seems like it might be a Machlokes HaPoskim. Here is what Yahadut Hatorah’s Menachem Eliezer Moses said. From YWN: “If we are so compelled, we will all accompany the bnei yeshivos to prison.”

But Brisk Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Meshulam Dovid Halevy Soloveitchik has said that if the draft is enacted into law, then “we (Yeshiva and Kollel students) will be compelled to leave the country.”

Jail or exile. What a choice.

None of this surprises me. That is all I’ve been hearing since the Tal law was allowed to lapse. The Tal Law offered Haredim a path into the workforce by satisfying their military obligations with minimal service after leaving Kollel. And even that law was considered anti Torah by some Haredi rabbinic leaders.

This is one area where differences between Haredi factions disappear. When it comes to drafting their youth, they all unite in common cause. The Eida HaHaredis, the Lithuanian Yeshiva world, the world of Hasidim… even HaGoan Rav Ovadia Yosef… all keep repeating the same “Hell no… We won’t go!” type mantra:

What is disturbing to me is not so much their argument that learning Torah is more important than army service. It is the way they articulate it. Here for example is what Rav Meshulam Dovid Halevy Soloveitchik said in a Shmooze (informal lecture or conversation) with his students. From YWN:

“The kavona of the haters of Israel by trying to draft bnei yeshivos is to destroy the major foundation of Torah, to destroy the yeshiva world, and to uproot everything R”L

The rosh yeshiva refers to the share the burden effort as an “existential threat against the Torah world and Yiddishkheit R”L”.

…they seek to uproot everything” he adds, “to uproot Klall Yisrael’s neshama from its roots, the yeshivos hakodesh.”

“When we refer annually in the Pesach haggadah (In every generation they stand against us to destroy us) refers to the gezeiros of the haters of Torah seeking to uproot the Torah HaKadosha R”L.” I’m sorry. With all due respect to Rav Soloveitchik does he really believe that the goal of… not only the secular government but of many religious members of the Knesset is to destroy Torah Judaism? If so – he is wrong and clueless about their goal and their motives.

Draft Diaspora Jews into the IDF!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Is a Jewish kid in Brooklyn, or Chicago, or Beverly Hills less Jewish than my kids are? Is the Land of Israel less of a homeland for American Jews than it is for Israelis? Why should we, the Israelis, be the ones to fight the enemies of Israel, and not Diaspora Jews as well?

If you answer, “Because I’m an America citizen,” that doesn’t cut the cake. I’m an America citizen too, but I served in the IDF. The fact that a Jew is a United States citizen, or a German citizen, or a citizen of Zululand, is merely a technicality. So what if you have a U.S. passport? If you move to England, you can become a citizen of England, and from there, you can move to Switzerland and get a Swiss passport too. It’s all just an administrative technicality. A Jew is a Jew. That’s what the Nazis taught us. Whether a Jew was a German, or a Pole, or a Rumanian, or a Hungarian, they were all herded onto trains for the ovens.

Let me try to explain something, please. In this week’s Torah portion, as we receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, we are “like one man with one heart.” At Sinai, we didn’t only receive the Torah, we received a national Israelite soul that made us, and our descendants forever after us, a part of the Israelite Nation. The Jewish People aren’t like other people in the world. Yes, we all have eyes and ears and legs, but whereas other people possess individual souls, we possess the national, collective soul of Clal Yisrael, the Community of Israel, Knesset Yisrael.

Our Sages teach that this national soul is something unique to the Jewish People. Other nations are groupings of individuals who come together for some common interest and purpose, whether it be for self-defense, or economic strength, and the like. They are like individuals who buy stock in a company, in order to benefit from its revenues, but they aren’t the company itself. The Nation of Israel is different. Wherever we may be, we have the unique national soul of the Jewish People who stood at Mount Sinai, which makes a Jew, first and foremost, a Jew wherever he may wander. He may hold an American passport, but his soul is 100% strictly kosher – Hebrew National, to make a pun.

This national soul makes us Israelis wherever we may wander. We are members of the Nation of Israel – the Children of Israel. The word Jew doesn’t exist in the Torah. It’s a deviation of the exile, as in Mordechai the Jew, meaning someone who was exiled from the kingdom of Judah. In our essence, we are the Children of Israel, whether we live in Boston or LA.

True, this national soul doesn’t come to expression when we are alienated from our Land and exiled amongst the nations. Without our own Land, we exist as individuals, operating on a low-level individual soul, while our national soul is in the garage getting fixed. But with our return to our national Land, our giant national soul returns too. In effect, we become giant Jews, part of a powerful Jewish Nation, the reborn Nation of Israel, with a Jewish government, and Jewish economy, and Jewish army. Instead of tiny, lilliputian individual souls, we become national giants – Israelis, Divinely empowered with new found courage and strength.

The Jews of the Diaspora have this giant national soul too, but it’s defused, deactivated, in hibernation, like a vestigial organ, as long as they’re outside of the Land of Israel. But they are the Children of Israel nevertheless. Israel is their one and only true Land, and they have the duty to defend it just like the Israelis who live there.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/draft-diaspora-jews-into-the-idf/2013/01/30/

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