It’s No Time For Vacation

The Jerusalem Post has summarized the intent of the declarations from leading Torah Sages in Israel posted by Rabbi Rosenblum: Haredim cancel vacations due to war. Thanks to ak for the tip.

As one yeshiva student put it, “we don’t feel the need to apologize for not serving in the army, but we also think it is wrong to go on vacation at a time when men our age are risking their lives to fight the enemy.”

The article, unfortunately, gives a lot of attention to the other reason to cancel: the potential embarrassment to G-d’s Name if yeshiva bochurim are off having a good time while soldiers’ lives are in danger. As any student of the Ramchal — or of human nature — can tell you, people may sometimes respond better to call to refrain from action than a call to action. There are those who might feel they need a break, but who will at least think twice before heading off on a trip.

“Imagine secular Israelis’ reaction if a group of yeshiva students go for a hike some place up North and get stranded like they do every year, and the IDF is called in to bail them out,” said one yeshiva head, quoted in the haredi weekly Bakehila.

“Image the desecration of God’s name.”

While that’s a legitimate concern, there’s no evidence that this motivated the “spiritual leaders” to call for increased prayer and Torah study. That is a call to action, not merely a request that people stay home. It stems from a sincere belief that prayer helps — like the call from the Bostoner Rebbe and Rav Kook of Rechovot. When Moreinu Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel of the Mir says that “each should know the extent of his responsibility for sanctifying God’s name and carrying the yoke with our Jewish brothers,” he is calling for a positive Kiddush HaShem, not the avoidance of Chilul HaShem.

There is also, in my opinion, too much discussion at the end about prayers uniquely for the IDF. Of course we should say special prayers for those are in a higher level of danger for the sake of the community’s safety. But at the same time, the eight train engineers killed in Haifa are no less red-blooded than the eight soldiers killed in Bint JBeil. All of the residents of the North need Divine Protection at this difficult time.

At least the JPost let the representative of the “virulently anti-Zionist” Edah HaCharedit get the last word: “But we do pray for the safety of every Jew, including a Jewish soldier.”

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10 Responses

  1. Ezzie says:

    Yes, but there is a far cry between those who are in that higher level of danger and those who are not. The Charedi unwillingness to say such a prayer seems incredibly babyish in general, but never is it more pronounced than in a time of war. What if a soldier were in a Charedi shul and asked them to say it? Would they? There is no such hesitation when a leader of the Charedi community is ill, and there should be no such hesitation regarding those who are in serious danger – especially now.

  2. Ezzie says:

    By the way, did anyone else find that the name “R’ Natan Zvi Finkel” was interesting? 🙂

  3. Barry says:

    I have to respectfully disagree and would suggest Gedolie Yisroel have also disagreed.

    In the new edition of the Sichos Musar from Rav Chaim Shmulevitz they added the shmuessen he delivered during the Yom Kippur war.

    They are an amazing read and he touches on many topics currently being discussed in the Yeshivah world (i.e. how the kollel wives need to understand how their husbands need to increase torah study (in the Yeshiva), yeshiva students from the diaspora who wanted to go home (he powerful proclaims how it is “sheker” the belief that you can be as concerned from a distance). The one that most touched me was his discussion of our obligation to pray for those who are putting their lives on the front lines (i.e. the IDF) and he states our obligation to pray for their safety is “bli g’vul” – without boundary/end.

    If you read the shmuess I believe Reb Chaim disagrees.

    Unless you are a true advocate of the “Satmar” shita and live by its rules (i.e. not going to the Kosel), not saying the prayer for the soldiers is (certainly in light of the current situation) possibly bordering on “Achzaryus”. I know that sounds harsh – but I can’t think of another word that captures it.


  4. MuMU says:

    Please do not confuse Satmar with the Neturie Karta Crazies/Rodphim. THE Satmar community is daavening like everyone else.

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    Ezzie and Barry,

    I agree with Ezzie\’s point about greater and lesser danger. I would never argue that those in greater danger do not need more protection, more prayer. Let me point you to the call of Rav Kook and the Bostoner Rebbe which I posted yesterday, which gives those of us in positions of relative safety the opportunity to pray and learn on behalf of one of those in danger.

    Today 8 civilians were killed, and four soldiers. So how do you defend saying a prayer for a legal secretary at the IDF office in Tel-Aviv, and not for the residents of Ma\’alot? It is not \”the IDF\” which needs our prayers, but all those targeted by enemy weaponry.

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    “Please do not confuse Satmar with the Neturie Karta Crazies”

    – I don;t believe that Barry was. If you read his statement carefully, he was NOT disparaging toward Satmar. In fact, if anything he was lauding their consistency and exhorting the rest of us to not cover ourselves in their sheetas (sounds like an ad for Williamsburg Linen and Things)

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    At the Siyum Hashas sponsored by Agudas Yisrael , Tehilim was said in the traditional manner, for “the brave soldiers protecting the Am hayoshev b’Tzion”. The speaker from the executive leadership of Agudah noted the role in which Limud Hatorah plays in protecting Klal Yisroel. In this way, I imagine, everyone was(hopefully) satisfied.

    I maintain that the issues–pro and con–involved in mentioning Tzahal, Yeshiva students in army etc., should be noted, and discussed in more detail after things quite down, b’ezras Hashem. Right now, the only thing which matters is what is in each person’s heart at the time whatever particular Nusach of Tefilah is recited.

  8. mycroft says:

    So how do you defend saying a prayer for a legal secretary at the IDF office in Tel-Aviv, and not for the residents of Ma’alot?

    In general a good point-but the legal secretary in the kiryah is probably at risk as ground zero for any sophisticated missile attack-remeber 9/11 and Pentagon attack.
    Also doesn’t the prayer say “haomdim al mishmar artzeinu”-maybe the Secretary isn’t in the prayer.

    It is not “the IDF” which needs our prayers, but all those targeted by enemy weaponry
    True-but the IDF is also taking active efforts to protect Klal Israel-thus the prayer is not only for them to survive like Maalot-gbut to be succesful in their missions.

  9. David Rosenbaum says:

    To expand on what Mycroft wrote:

    1. Adraba, say a prayer for all the residents of the north, also!
    2. If you look at it in relative terms, you will see that the percentage of soldiers killed while they were “omdim al mishmar artzeinu” is much much greater than the percentage of civilians in the North who were killed. Wouldn’t that mean that they are in “greater
    danger” (if you must quantify it)?
    3. And what would be the avla if the secretary was included in the prayer? Is it then some sort of bracha l’vatala?

    Having said all the above, I think each group needs to focus on what they can do. As I’ve heard from Rabbi Lamm (though I’m sure others have said it), we daven on Musaf on Chag “Umipnei chataeinu”, not “chataeihem”. Or if you prefer, there’s the famous story with Rav Velevel and Rav Amram Blau regarding Yona (I’m too lazy to write it – does everyone know it?).

    So I would like to say:

    My chareidi brothers, don’t get caught up in arguing about the Mi Shebeirach. If for whatever reason you have some sort of objection to that tefilla, just daven in whatever way you feel comfortable. Hashem doesn’t need an address or a zip code.

    My non-chareidi brothers, don’t get caught up in arguing about the Mi Shebeirach. If others don’t want to say it, forget it. Let them worship in their own way. Hashem doesn’t need an address or a zip code.

    And for all of us (and this relates to going on vacations): No one should say “shalom alay nafshi”. During the Russia-Japan war in the early 1900’s, the Sefat Emet slept on the floor, as some of his hasidim were on the front. To say a mishebeirach or tehillim and then go out and have fun seems to be incongruous.

    Kavey el Hashem!

  10. Ezzie says:

    I know this thread is dead, but I wasn’t able to really check until now…

    R’ Menken: Pretty much what MyCroft said. The prayer is for the whole IDF, but it focuses on “haomdim on mishmar artzeinu… bayabasha, b’avir, u’b’yam”. Should we daven for the civilians too? Of course. But as the commenter after me said, it sounds almost like achzariyus to refuse to say the tefilla at this point.

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