A Melamed Thought And Comment


A Melamed thought:

Q: In a situation where the General Staff of the I.D.F. makes a decision forcing soldiers to transgress halacha, is there a mitzvah to serve in the army? Is it proper to sign the petition not to enlist in the army until the issue is straightened out?

A: It is a great mitzvah to serve in the army for the purpose of defending the nation and the Land, a mitzvah which is equal to all the other mitzvoth combined, for two reasons. First, anyone who saves a life is regarded as having saved an entire world (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5), all the more so when dealing with saving the lives of the entire Jewish nation from their enemies. Second, the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel, of which serving in the army is an important component, is equal to all the other mitzvoth (Sifrei, Re'i, parsha 53).

Therefore, it is a mitzvah to enlist in the army, and when a soldier receives an order which contradicts halacha, he should refuse to obey. (Rambam, Laws of Kings 3:9). Nevertheless, in extreme cases, there is room to consider a temporary postponement of enlisting, with the intention of rectifying the situation, as the Sages said in regards to Moshe Rabbeinu breaking the tablets – "Sometimes the cancellation of the Torah, is its' foundation" (Talmud Menachot 99b).

In practice, a large number of men from the Haredi sector and 'ba'alei teshuva' (newly religious) do not enlist, figuring that it is impossible to fulfill the mitzvoth properly in the army, and a decision similar to that of the General Staff, will likely strengthen this trend significantly. Consequently, on rare occasions there is room to consider postponing enlistment, so as to ultimately bolster recruitment. Has the time come for such a protest? I'm not sure. In every protest, there is room to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

In any case, the high road is to enlist into the I.D.F. in order to defend the nation and the Land, and yet, to refuse orders that contradict halacha.

One thing is clear: It is incumbent upon the public leaders to do their utmost to publicly cancel the shameful decision of the General Staff, which was passed without any noticeable protest from the I.D.F. Rabbinate. Our great fear is that the public leaders will not act properly, and even obscure the public outcry, thus thwarting its impact, and in the end, the stain of this disgraceful decision forcing soldiers to transgress halacha will stick to the I.D.F., and the numbers of those abstaining from enlisting will increase.


It seems to be an oversight to declare that the "IDF defends the nation and the Land". In reality the IDF defends only the State of which it is the army of. It seems to be even bigger of an oversight to declare that the IDF is a tool in "settling the Land of Israel". As it happens the IDF is the only official army in the world at present that lets itself be used to destroy Jewish housing, because it is Jewish or synagogues, because they are places of Jewish worship or entire Jewish communities for the same, inadmissible, anti-Jewish, anti-Torah, G-d denying evil reason. In the light of this it indeed seems to be a sin to serve the IDF and to swear in to serve any non-Torah institution involved in the hastening of the anti-divine plan: We swore in in Sinai, for all generations! Jews therefore simply have to serve Hashem, not replacement, non-Torah entities, like the Zionist State. We are created to be Hashem-ists, not Buddhists, xtians or Zionists. The fact that Hashem blesses the State and its IDF (because it fights [some] of Israel's wars) does not mean we as ordinary Jews should or can or allowed to or authorized to do the same as He, for we are Jews, commanded not to deviate from Torah! How do you know Melamed that this State is not a Golden Calf State and its army is not a Golden Calf army? If it was just that, aren't we warned not to dance around it?!

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