Living in Chutz LaAretz and the IDF – A Halachic Overview and Proposal

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25 Responses

  1. Y. M. Dick says:

    However , since it’s not a milchemes mitzvah, rather an aveira of not keeping the 3 shevuos, the entire post is absurd

  2. E.S. says:

    In principle you are correct. In practice I think this law would be insignificant – I don’t think the IDF wants to just grab people who live in Chul to serve.

    What the IDF does want is our money. And in that, we may be lacking – maybe we should institute some law / tax to rectify that…

    Certainly it is appropriate to commit to give x$ to Israel daily for every day there is a status of milchemes mitzvah.

  3. Abe says:

    I don’t know about “more” (isn’t that really the same argument that has been raging for the past few weeks and months), but “as much” is certainly a fair point of view. Of course the details of such a law would have to be nailed down, since it may be even more impractical to enforce than enforcing the drafting of Israelli Haredim; however the idea that Jews in Chutz LaAretz have a (whether halachic (I’ll leave that to the Rabbis such as Rabbi Beckerman to argue about) or simply moral) obligation to defend the Jewish National Homeland is a good one. This would also provide an impetus for aliyah (or perhaps for some an impetus to never visit Israel). I believe that reserve soldiers are exempt from miluim if they are out of the country for an extended period of time; however I know of people whose units were called up when they were out of the country, and they put themselves on the next flight to Israel to join their units. May we arrive at a time where all Jews feel such a level of responsibility.

  4. Nachum says:

    Mr. Dick, I’m not sure why I have to point out that defense of Jewish lives in Israel is, according to every Torah authority, a milchemet mitzvah, and a real mitzvah. The three oaths are a da’at yachid aggadita and have no halakhic status, certainly not when up against an actual one of the 613 mitzvot.

  5. Nachum says:

    By the way, the IDF doesn’t take anyone (apart from doctors and dentists) over the age of 26 these days. It doesn’t pay from a psychological perspective.

  6. micha says:

    I think halachically you are correct; when there is a threat to Jewish life, you are equally draftable whether you come from the endangered community or not. There is less of an obligation from hakaras hatov, but obligated is obligated. Pragmatically, no country would nor should draft people not committed enough to the country to bother living there. A recipe for losing, so in practice, the IDF wouldn’t select any of these people anyway.

    Second, if you wanted to parallel the chareidi draft, 10,400 men out of a population of 400,000 or so men of the right age range, it would have to be 2.5% who are drafted. Also, the incoming chutznik is only learning full time for a year or two. This law would rob their entire full-time learning time. The 2.5% of chareidim who would be learning on the side for 2 years either were headed to learning on the side anyway, or will return to full time learning afterward. The Torah being sacrificed is far less.

    Third, (a) requires people to sign up regardless of whether they intent to attend a yeshiva or not. Incentive in (b) is tied to yeshivos. Your proposal wouldn’t work — there is no penalty for the non-yeshiva attendee. There is also no infrastructure for pairing the 2.5% who are drafted to any particular 97.5% who are not.

    Last, you need to decide if the draft itself is the problem, or the criminal penalties. not the law itself. I am told that Rav Steinman and Shasare really only objecting to an imposition of criminal sanctions for failure to arrive when drafted. This exercise in putting the wrong shoe on the wrong other foot involves fiscal penalties. And the penalty isn’t even on the incoming tourist, but on a school he chooses to attend! So, what does any of this have to do with illustrating the central objection? And if your complaint really is limited to the criminalization of draft dodging, then you’re admitting that drafting 10,400 chareidi boys at a time into special (but imperfect, this is an army after all) programs just for boys from Chareidi homes is no special risk to their Judaism, would not be tantamount to an attack on Torah, and belies the entire rally. No more picture of a seifer Torah in barbed-wire. It’s not the seifer Torah that is being threatened, it’s 2 years of the bottom 3%. Fewer boys than the number of shababnikim. And if the Torah isn’t being threatened by the law itself, the criminalization of violating it isn’t a comment on the Torah either.

  7. Doron Beckerman says:

    In practice I think this law would be insignificant – I don’t think the IDF wants to just grab people who live in Chul to serve.

    The IDF is surely far more interested in non-Charedi 18 year-olds for three years than in Charedim – less issues of accommodation and much more cost effective.

    Certainly it is appropriate to commit to give x$ to Israel daily for every day there is a status of milchemes mitzvah.

    Hmm, economic sanctions…

  8. Bob Miller says:

    With all due respect, this is a matter for poskim to address.

  9. David says:

    OK, let’s hear your sources.

    Obviously it doesn’t depend on citizenship, but where does it say that someone who is 12000 miles away needs to come? The issue isn’t addressed.

    In any case, are you saying it’s not a milchemes mitzva?

  10. Ori Pomerantz says:

    1. Does your suggestion include women in the relevant ages?
    2. Wouldn’t the real result be that Jews in the relevant ages, whom Israel is trying to attract as Olim, will prefer to avoid even visiting?

  11. Michael Halberstam says:

    Those who insist on raising the issue of the three shevuos are not legitimately part of this discussion regardless of whether their position is valid in principal. If you are simply against the Medina, we hear your point, now sit down.

  12. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    This post is absurd. The IDF is an incompetent force that can barely stop a volley of crude missles from Gaza, rockets from Lebanon, and Iran from developing a bomb. It is a joke to think that it protects the Jews of the world from another Holocaust. Israel and the IDF are dependant on the US support for basicly everything it does.

    The Army does not need more soldiers. It is not a melchames mitzvah (sources available upon request) and quite to the contrary it is a place where issurim are rampant.

    My Halachik overview and proposal is stop building settelments and outposts and stop trying to pry lomdei torah away from their gemaras.

  13. Sc says:

    Bob. With all due respect, why is this a matter for poskim? This is simple, fair and straight forward and something anyone with seichel can ascribe to. It is time to Leave social and common sense issues to am yisrael and leave the rabbis to a more narrow definition of Halacha

  14. Baruch says:

    I for one, would love to see a comprehensive post presenting BOTH sides of the question (with sources) as to what the halachic status of the wars are and what obligation does that place on every Jew.
    BTW: I’m wondering what is the heter for Hesder to serve and learn if serving has precedence based on Michemet Mitsvah?

  15. Bob Miller says:

    Sc wrote:
    March 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm
    “Bob. With all due respect, why is this a matter for poskim? This is simple, fair and straight forward and something anyone with seichel can ascribe to. It is time to Leave social and common sense issues to am yisrael and leave the rabbis to a more narrow definition of Halacha”

    On something as critically important as this, we need to strive for a correct, uniform approach.

    See the well-known article (available online):
    THE “COMMON-SENSE” REBELLION AGAINST TORAH AUTHORITY by Rav Yosef Soloveitchik ZT”L

    This is its first paragraph:

    Jews defer only to recognized Torah scholars in the interpretation of Jewish Law. Today many individuals claim the right to exercise their own common sense in determining the relevance and format of contemporary Judaism, despite the fact that they are hardly Biblical and Talmudic scholars. Synagogue ritual committees and popular magazine articles debate the continued usefulness of various religious practices and explore the possibilities of reformulating Judaism in line with modem thought. These self-styled “poskim” concede their lack of formal training in Jewish texts and sources, but they insist nonetheless on their right to decide fundamental religious questions on the basis of “common sense.”

    It later states:

    When people talk of a meaningful Halakhah,of unfreezing the Halakhah or of an empirical Halakhah,they are basically proposing Korah’s approach. Lacking a knowledge of halakhic methodology, which can only be achieved through extensive study, they instead apply common-sense reasoning which is replete with platitudes and cliches. As in Aristotelean physics, they judge phenomena solely from surface appearances and note only the subjective sensations of worshippers. This da’at approach is not tolerated in science, and it should not receive serious credence in Halakhah. Such judgments are pseudo-statements, lacking sophistication about depth relationships and meanings.

  16. Y. Ben-David says:

    Crazy Kanoi-
    As someone with a peripheral position in the Defense Establishment, I found your disparaging remarks about the IDF and the Defense people in Israel grossly offensive. You are speakibg from total ignorance. When I became religious, I was astounded to find that cynical, derogatory comments about almost everyone and everything who is not part of the politically-correct religious “in-group” to be all too common and completely at odds with the spirit of the Torah. Funny thing is that an anti-religious extremist like Yossi Sarid also talks just like you do…everyone is stupid, bungling (everyone except him, of cours) talks just like you do. I guess it is harder to change one’s midot than his ideology

  17. Doron Beckerman says:

    However , since it’s not a milchemes mitzvah, rather an aveira of not keeping the 3 shevuos, the entire post is absurd

    The issue of the 3 oaths was relevant before the State’s establishment. Indeed, the Steipler stated in Karyana De’iggarta that it was “vadai shelo kadin” to establish it. But it is no longer relevant.

    I don’t know about “more” (isn’t that really the same argument that has been raging for the past few weeks and months)

    I don’t think so; it was about whether the learners are obligated at all. To the effect that they are exempt, see R’ Yechiel Michel Tukaczinsky (HaTorah VeHamedinah, 1952); R’ Yitzchak Arieli (Einayim LaMishpat, Bava Basra 7b); R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah IV, 33); R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Sefer Hilchos Medinah II, Sha’ar 3); R’ Moshe Tzvi Neriah (Bnei HaYeshivos Vegiyyusam). These are all available on Hebrewbooks.org.

    May we arrive at a time where all Jews feel such a level of responsibility.

    Until then, do you feel it appropriate for the Jews in the Diaspora to call upon Charedi learners to join the army and heap invective upon them if they do not? Or would that be hypocritical? Also, do you feel it proper for Religious Zionist Yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael that have overseas programs to insist that their attendees join the army at least as vehemently as they insist the Charedim should?

    Mr. Dick, I’m not sure why I have to point out that defense of Jewish lives in Israel is, according to every Torah authority, a milchemet mitzvah, and a real mitzvah.

    That is not an accurate statement. Some maintain that it requires a melech, not just a malchus. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe CM II:78) indicates great uncertainty. R’ Shlomo Wolbe (Iggeros Ukesavim Vol.2, page 303) states:

    לבסוף, הערה להערתך על מלחמת מצוה וכיבוש ארץ ישראל. אני מבין שאינך משתמש במושגים אלה כמליצה, אלא במובנם ההלכתי. ומה נעשה, מרן החזון איש זללה”ה הלך כידוע בשיטת הרמב”ן במצות ישוב ארץ ישראל, והוא לא פסק גם במלחמת השחרור שהיא בגדר מלחמת מצוה.
    In the next letter:
    את החזון איש אני בעצמי שאלתי בזמן מלחמת השחרור וזאת אשר השיב: מלחמת מצוה? לא. אבל יתכן שיתהווה מצב שבהתקרבם אל ערינו אנו מחויבים לצאת ולהגן

    It is with this in mind that I wrote “active” milchemes mitzvah in the post.

  18. L. Oberstein says:

    If indeed you are correct, then my son Yoni made aliyah and volunteered for Netzach Yehudah. Now, he is out of the army and the next hurdle he faces is finding an appropriate job so he can afford to pay his bills and move on with his life. Aliyah is really great and I hope that the economy continues to improve so all the olilm can stay in Israel and make a living. Talk is cheap and I hate to point out that some of the loudest “zionists” in town who constantly complain that someone else is not pro-Medina enough are living here and many of the non Zionists have children in Israel, own a home in Israel and ,if they were honest with themselves deep down, would have to admit that they too are zionists.

  19. Doron Beckerman says:

    Pragmatically, no country would nor should draft people not committed enough to the country to bother living there. A recipe for losing, so in practice, the IDF wouldn’t select any of these people anyway.

    I disagree when it comes to the Jewish people, whose nationality is completely unrelated to a Land. Moreover, I don’t see a difference between a country drafting people not committed to living there and drafting people not committed to physical defense of it.

    Second, if you wanted to parallel the chareidi draft, 10,400 men out of a population of 400,000 or so men of the right age range, it would have to be 2.5% who are drafted.

    There are not 400,000 men in the “right” age range. In practice, the numbers according to the law right now must come from those currently between 15-22, because the others will be given an immediate exemption, and it is actually not even that. For this year, it will, in practice, have to be 3,000 or so from a pool of about 30,000 defined as Charedim; in two years, 5,500 from a pool of about 40,000.

    Also, you are only relating the current law as punctured and defanged, not to proposals such as 400 or 1,800 total that were tabled and promoted by religious MKs.

    Also, the incoming chutznik is only learning full time for a year or two. This law would rob their entire full-time learning time.

    No it wouldn’t; he can learn for as long as he likes after he has participated in the milchemes mitzvah as determined by the interests of the IDF.

    Third, (a) requires people to sign up regardless of whether they intent to attend a yeshiva or not. Incentive in (b) is tied to yeshivos. Your proposal wouldn’t work — there is no penalty for the non-yeshiva attendee.

    Yes, there is. He is barred entry into the country. If he enters, he agrees to be drafted. If he dodges, he goes to jail.

    Last, you need to decide if the draft itself is the problem, or the criminal penalties. not the law itself. I am told that Rav Steinman and Shasare really only objecting to an imposition of criminal sanctions for failure to arrive when drafted.

    No, it is for imposing criminal sanctions in the event that the annual quotas are not met and one is not among the 1,800. It is not even that – it is for the statement that someone who did nothing but sat and learned Torah can be declared a criminal if he does not join the army, with a criminal file: banned from certain jobs, banned visas to the US, and no better than a drug dealer.

    This exercise in putting the wrong shoe on the wrong other foot involves fiscal penalties.

    Which are included in the current law if quotas are not met.

    And the penalty isn’t even on the incoming tourist, but on a school he chooses to attend!

    The school shouldn’t take a draft-dodger.

    And if your complaint really is limited to the criminalization of draft dodging, then you’re admitting that drafting 10,400 chareidi boys at a time into special (but imperfect, this is an army after all) programs just for boys from Chareidi homes is no special risk to their Judaism, would not be tantamount to an attack on Torah, and belies the entire rally. No more picture of a seifer Torah in barbed-wire. It’s not the seifer Torah that is being threatened,

    Yes it is – a learner is declared a criminal. (Yes, yes, it is for not going to the army. But at the end of the day it is a gantz feiner Talmid Chacham, who was not among the 1,800 [as Rabbi Adlerstein wrote here, he is very afraid of what would happen if we ever had to decie that], behind bars.)

  20. L. Oberstein says:

    There is a problem with your proposal. Right now, most of the bnai torah and many of those who have lived permanentgly in Israel for 40 years are not Israeli citizens. They also make a point of taking all of their newborn children to wherever they need to go to renounce Israeli citizenship. They don’t want to serve in the army and they only identify with Eretz Yisroel as far as keeping one day but they want to be Americans for all other purposes. This includes those who actively participate in Israeli election campaigns ,even if they are not eligible to vote themselves. My chlidren who live in Israel are all citizens of Israel as are all of their children. It hasn’t harmed them in any way. My oldest daughter who was born there and lived there for the first month of her life was forced by the Israeli governement to get an Israeli passport if she ever wanted to come back again. So, she got one and uses it whenever she goes to Israel. Either we have a Jeiwsh State or we don’t. If they don’t recognize it and don’t want to identify withit except to take, then maybe there uis little point in there being there as an outsider. If you want to breath the air of Eretz Yisroel,maybe it shoudl entail some loyalty.

  21. c-l,c says:

    A different problem:An american relative recently dropped out of the IDF halfway through.
    His father’s death allowed him that option.

    But his real reason was, He did not get along with israelis.

    (He found himself getting along better with the druze in his unit)

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Crazy Kanoi-your comments on the eve of Purim no less, are an example of the problem. To the contrary, service in the IDF for any Israeli citizen whose vocation is not Torah Umnasam, is a Mitzvah, and there is no shortage of seforim and Poskim who can aid any would be soldier in serving in the IDF Bkedusha uvetaharah.

  23. Sam says:

    In the time of melachim, the kings ran the country and the neviiim and or cohanim dealt with the spiritual life of the people. We ought to follow this model today. Let the Israeli government run the country and leave the rabbis to spiritual life of the people. I am confounded by the thought the rabbis know better whether an army is needed and who should serve.

  24. c-l,c says:

    Steve Brizel,
    In the present climate and situation of the IDF,that’s debatable

  25. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Y. Ben David

    “When I became religious, I was astounded to find that cynical, derogatory comments about almost everyone and everything who is not part of the politically-correct religious “in-group” to be all too common and completely at odds with the spirit of the Torah.”

    My comments have nothing to do with religion. They are merely an observation of fact. The IDF is not the protector of Jews and it cannot prevent another Holocaust. Israel is dependent on the US support for basically any military action it wishes to take on. Perhaps my comment came across to you as brash but it was provoked by reading the above misguided draft proposal. I never claimed that everyone is stupid or bungling as you claim I did, I only wrote that the IDF is ineffective in the role and mandate that it purports to serve.

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