Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Charedim Don't Fight in the IDF According to Rabbi Orlofsky

A Guest Post By E. Fink

Rabbi Orlofsky was asked why charedim don't fight for Israel in the IDF. The question was posed as a matter of pikuach nefesh or even milchemes mitzva and by looking at Tanach we clearly see that young Jewish men fought in the army. The letter ends with: "It is a matter of responsibility for every member of the nation to do their part. How can I understand the seeming shirking of duty?"

Rabbi Orlofsky first goes after the tone of the letter. (Arguing Pro-Tip: When you have nothing smart to say ALWAYS complain about tone.) RO complains about the tone of using the words "shirking of duty". After a brief mussar shmooze RO says that since the Gedolim prohibited Charedim from joining the IDF (some 60 years ago) that is sufficient reason not to join the IDF. Then RO finally answers the question with a variant of "Torah is protecting the Land of Israel at least as much as soldiers".

Here is the problem: The heter to avoid the IDF is for those who are truly learning and it can be argued that their learning is protecting the Land of Israel. However, as currently constructed, the heter is a blanket heter that applies equally to masmidim and batlanim. There is no accountability and no assurance that the young man is studying at all. Issuing catch-all heterim can create a lazy attitude toward observance. And indeed it has.

Also, just because the Gedolim gave the heter does not mean that it is assur to ask why. Why is always a good question and it is a question that deserves more respect than "because I said so".

There may be plenty reasons that charedim should not join the IDF, but it would have been nice it RO would have mentioned that Maran Rav Shteinmen is in favor of the Nachal Charedi and old habits die hard, but soon more charedim may join the IDF. Perhaps that would have been a better answer to the question...

Search for more information about [topic] at 4torah.com.

No comments: