More on Drafting Yeshiva Boys

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65 Responses

  1. Surie Ackerman says:

    Pardon my ignorance but, in terms of halacha, does the rest of the nation’s agreement to these exemptions for the purpose of studying Torah have any bearing on the issue? What if there is no such agreement, or what if those who must take up the slack might be inclined to agree but want to set terms?

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    Our Rabbis teach that the Tribe of Yissachar specialized in full-time Torah-study.

    Where do our Rabbis teach that Yissachar was exempted from military service?

    I would like to see a Torah source for this, assuming that it exists.

  3. martin brody says:

    The prayer for the State of Israel composed by Chief Rabbi Brody, and endorsed by subsequent Chief Rabbis Jakobowitz, Sacks and Mirvis contains no mention of “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption”
    Ultra Orthodox don’t say it in Britain either. So what’s their excuse?

  4. Nachum Boehm says:

    Everybody, including members of Yesh Atid, agrees that the State of Israel should, in principle, exempt, and support, some number of people dedicated to full time Torah study. According to you, the Chareidi leadership agrees that, in principle, most who are not so dedicated to Torah study should serve.

    According to you, the Chareidi leadership is coming around to the view of the majority of Israelis, and it’s just a question of hammering out the details: The annual numbers of Chareidim to exempt, setting up a fair and objective system so that everybody who is deserving has an equal chance at the exemptions, and setting up the Nachal Chareidi units along similar lines to the Hesder units (with more Chumros, of course). If so, then there has been a massive failure among the Chareidi leadership in trying to negotiate these details when they had the chance!

    I disagree with your analysis, and therefore believe that there has been no such failure. Rather, the Chareidi leadership has been unwilling to negotiate because they oppose, in principle, the idea of the general Chareidi population joining the IDF.

    As for the claim that the Torah protects those who are not under direct and imminent threat: We see, in reality, that people involved in full-time Torah study DO HAVE a need for protection when not under direct and imminent threat??? If Torah learning doesn’t protect enough to obviate the need for armed guards, then how can the people learning Torah claim exemption from serving as armed guards?

    As to your explanation as to why yeshivos move away from danger zones: On the principle that Torah study provides a special Zechus for protection (while admittedly not impregnable), does it not supply a Z’chus to places that are under fire? How can they run away, taking their Zechusim with them, from the very place that’s under fire and needs their Zechusim most? Alas, it seems that Yeshiva bochurim indeed do need protection whether or not they are under fire.

    I went to mainstream Yeshivas my entire life and was never, ever lead in Tehilim for IDF soldiers. At most, we davened for Hashem to end “the Matsav in EY.”

    It is the Chareidi leadership that specifically led and is leading the charge in using the Yeshivos as safe havens from the draft, even today! It seems to many that, contra your protestations, the Chareidi leadership believes that it is vastly preferable to waste one’s time in the Beis Midrash coffee room than join the army.
    That’s why we are in this situation in the first place!

  5. mycroft says:

    “to be said in conjunction with a prayer for the State of Israel, which includes controversial reference to the State as the beginning of the flowering of our redemption.”

    Saying the phrase as a narrative has always been controversial-there have been MO Rabbis who have preferred instead of a narrative statement either “nisayon” or “shtehei” smeichat geulateinu. One can be very pro a Jewish state without attributing messianic meaning to the state. The vast majority of pre-67 Religious Zionism as was the Zionism of the Rav was a non messianic one. Although they identified with different institutions R Soloveitich-Mizrachi and R Y Kamenetzky Agudah their attitudes towards the state were relatively close.

  6. Dovid Shaleesh says:

    Honestly, this reads as apologetics.

    No, it has very much to do with deligitimizing the state. And it is correct; the state is illegitimate.

  7. Glatt some questions says:

    I am saddened by the decision by Chareidi leaders not to say a misheberach for the IDF soldiers. Rabbi Cardozo says it much better than I can say:

    “Still, the greatest mistake was not made by the government but by the Chareidi leadership. When it organized a demonstration in which nearly 600,000 black-hatted yeshiva students participated to show their love for Torah, one could hear a pin drop just before the crowd burst out in an unprecedented cry of Shema Yisrael. That was the perfect opportunity to prove their love for our brave soldiers and all of Israeli society by having all 600,000 men and women recite prayers for the welfare of the soldiers and all Jews in Israel. That would not only have been a great kiddush Hashem; it also would have turned Israeli society around and healed much of the animosity between the Chareidi and non-Chareidi communities. Yeshiva students would have been seen in a different light. Instead of having upset hundreds of thousands of Israelis, among whom many have lost their sons and daughters in combat, it would have created an entirely different atmosphere in the country. There is little doubt that most yeshiva students would have done it with great love. When the world-renowned, Chareidi halachic authority Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l was asked to which graves of tzaddikim one should go to pray, he said to go to the military cemeteries.”

  8. Y. Ben-David says:

    The next step after making an exposition like this is to explain it to the secular Israeli public which doesn’t understand these things.
    They are the majority of voters and it is their representatives in the Knesset who make the decisions. Since we made aliyah 27 years ago
    the endless question I have been asked by non-religious Israelis is regarding this matter. They can not understand why someone who is not
    studying Torah full-time can not serve (they are willing to accept that there are good students who can be exempted, as the new law indeed provides
    for). It is important to note that few of these people are “anti-religios” or “anti-Haredi”. they are troubled by this particular issue.
    I have not heard any of the official Haredi spokesmen make any real attempt to conduct a dialogue with the general Israeli public.
    Arguments like the one I keep hearing from them that says “the IDF neither wants nor needs Haredim” are an affront to one’s intelligence,
    after all, the response would be “why do the NEED my son, but they don’t NEED your son”? Also the fact that some Generals may not want
    to deal with the special demands of Haredi servicemen is IRRELEVANT because the Generals don’t own the IDF, the people do and the people
    want reforms in this matter. I understand that the Haredi adoption of R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch’s “austritt-separation” philosophy which prohibits Torah Jews
    from recognizing the legitimacy of non-Haredi bodies, such as the secular State of Israel or the IDF and which opposes any Haredi cooperation
    with such bodies makdes dialogue with those who support such bodies very difficult but the ongoing crisis requires a reappraisal by the Haredi
    leadership of their approach to this.

  9. Dovid Rosenfeld says:

    Thank you Doron for this excellent piece. I almost don’t think I’ve seen to date such a clear, cogent presentation of the Chareidi point of view – from both a halachic and hashkafic perspective.

    One thing which bothers me is that once we admit the obvious – that boys who are not learning well (or not learning at all – wherever precisely one draws the line) *should* serve, it would create so much stronger a Kiddush Hashem for gedolim to openly state this and show a willingness to enter a dialogue with the government on this issue – which we ourselves should want to solve. Unfortunately, the only way a kenes can draw such universal support (to include many flavors of Chassidim who reject the medinah out of hand) is to take the most anti position imaginable. And to put it mildly, that is a public position which really leaves us vulnerable to some very legitimate criticism.

  10. Doron Beckerman says:

    To respond to Surie Ackerman, the Netziv I cite below might have some bearing on your question. Ultimately, though, the Poskim I cited above indicate that it is right and proper for the nation to exempt them, and they are making the wrong choice if they do not. I would especially recommend reading through the responsum of the Tzitz Eliezer.

    To respond to Mr. Cohen, we find the Netziv to Bereishis 49:14-15:

    “During the days of the Judges, while there was of yet no monarchy, the accepted mode of conduct was that each Tribe would dedicate some number of soldiers and expenditures necessary to protect the country. The Tribe of Yissachar did not dedicate any soldiers… but the Tribe of Yissachar were not counted to be warriors until David ascended the throne and imposed upon them to be counted for war… the reason they refused to put up warriors… was Torah study….. Instead, they lent a shoulder to bear the perspective of the rest of the nation, whatever was imposed upon them as necessary for the country’s needs… and they paid more tax toward the warriors than other tribes for war expenditures.”

    To translate this into practical terms, according to the Netziv, Yissachar was expected to shoulder other state needs (obviously, that would not impinge on their learning efforts) and there were economic consequences to their decision.

    It is to be born in mind, however, that Yissachar taking this route was *in addition* to the entire Shevet Levi, which was always exempted. Moreover, not all of Shevet Yissachar was drafted by David; it was only a certain percentage of them. It is certainly plausible that, not unlike the current situation, David drafted some of them as their population grew in leaps and bounds and the prior arrangement was no longer sustainable. This is borne out by Divrei Hayamim I, Chapter 7, where the text juxtaposes the novelty of warriors from Yissachar, which occurred during David’s reign, and the description of their prolific birth rate. Ultimately, we know from various sources that David fully recognized the necessity of Torah study in order to be victorious in battle. Here, too, the Tzitz Eliezer is most edifying.

    To respond to Martin Brody – I don’t know.

  11. Mr. Cohen says:

    Rabbi Avigdor Miller (a popular Chareidi Rabbi
    and author, born 1908 CE, died 2001 CE) delivered a free
    public lecture in the last year of his life, in which he
    taught that: Jews should pray for the Israeli Army.

    I personally witnessed this; I was there.

    When a Jew recites Tefilat Shemoneh Esrei,
    he is permitted to add his own personal prayer requests
    in the middle of the final paragraph, which begins with
    Elokai Netzor Leshoni MeiRa.

    I recently began adding the prayer for the Israeli Army
    in that part.

    I know this is not the way it is normally recited,
    but it is permitted,
    and I can say it that way in any synagogue.

    Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun
    in Teaneck NJ told me that I can recite it even on Shabbat
    and Yom Tov, because it is a communal tefillah,
    not a private bakashah.

    SOURCE:
    http://rabbipruzansky.com/2014/03/24/the-exchange-part-2/

  12. Sc says:

    This article carefully omits that plenty of rabbanim hold opposing views and more importantly none of this addresses the simple fact that it is not fair to enjoy the protection of the state and army and not bear the same burden. The explanations offered are just excuses. It saddens me that the so called gedolim don’t see the harm their position causes to klal yisrael

  13. Jonathan says:

    I could accept this argument, but for two problems:

    1) While some portion of Klal Yisrael always learned Torah instead of joining the Army, it is not clear to me that this group of Torah learners was a distinct sector of society that sought to prevent its children from finding a different role within the Klal. I would be shocked if the men who learned Torah under the rule of David HaMelech discouraged their less learning-inclined sons from considering serving in the Army.

    which leads me to my second objection:

    2) The Charedi leadership never made a serious effort to get non-full time learners to serve in the IDF. At most, service in Shachar or Nachal Charedi was reluctantly tolerated. Consequently, IDF enrollment never reached even close to 10% of Charedi men.

    The current law was needed because the Charedi sector has not managed the rest of Israeli society that it is making a good faith effort to contribute to the State’s survival. The current law recognizes the value of Torah study to the State, and grants deferments to 3,000 Torah scholars a year, while requiring the rest to serve in the Army or some other national service. If more than 3,000 decline to serve, penalties kick in. In an ideal world, this would not have been necessary. The Charedi world would have voluntarily sent its non-full time learning population into Army or national service programs that respect the Charedi lifestyle, and would have davened for the welfare of the state and its soldiers. Because the Charedi community failed to do this, a more radical (and imperfect) solution was needed.

  14. Eli Julian says:

    “Still, it is widely recognized that the Army has not done its part to ensure, to the best of its ability, that Charedim can serve in the Army without peril to their religious upbringing. There are values that the Army wishes to uphold, such as their view of the role of women and a certain “melting pot” uniformity, that are a threat, or at least a formidable challenge, to one’s observance of mitzvos.”

    I find it unfortunate, if not downright disturbing, that misinformation such as this persists, despite the great efforts made by the IDF to accommodate themselves to the Charedi lifestyle. It seems to me that there is a trenchant bias, whether conscious or not, against opening up to the enlistment of the many men who are officially enrolled in Yeshivos and Kollelim and are actually engaged in other activities. The few stories where the IDF did not fulfill its pledges are trumpeted and paraded as the rule, while the everyday successful integration of the thousands of Charedim in the IDF, with their daily minyanim, daf hayomi, glatt kosher and women-free work environments are glossed over as the exception. Not to mention the fact that in the vast majority of the cases where there is some kind of issue, the individuals involved frequently do NOT utilize the avenues of help that are available to them before turning to the media.

    I expect that the reaction to my post will once again be a rehashing of the very exceptional cases where the IDF has not lived up to its commitments. But once again, those are exceptions and not the rule. The everyday integration of Charedim in the IDF is unfortunately not sensational enough to make it into the everyday media, but it is a fact, which is frequently overlooked by many a Charedi, the author included.

  15. Baruch says:

    This is all fine and good, but fails, in my humble opinion, to address what I believe to be the critical question. Even if full-time learners are, halachically speaking, absolved from going to the army, what is the charedi sector doing to correct the real, legitimate problem that this causes? A jewish employee who has to leave work early on Fridays naturally offers to make up the time during the week. If the charedim are asking (more precisely, demanding) to be excused from a responsibility cast upon everyone else, they have to show some openness and willingness to compensate, to show that they are willing to do their share in some other way. It is plain wrong, unfair and insensible to expect the secular majority to understand that the yeshiva students are doing their part by studying shor she’nagach es ha’para. The charedim have a right to ask for an exemption only if they are willing to come up with some kind of alternative or at very least acknowledge that there’s a problem here and show some willingness to work toward a solution. All I see them doing is protesting and accusing people of hating them just because they find the system unfair.

  16. jr says:

    Martin Brody – “Ultra Orthodox don’t say it in Britain either. So what’s their excuse?” Don’t worry, they have an excuse.
    The Orthodox Jewish community on both sides of this argument has been spending the past few months preaching to the choirs.
    About two weeks ago I was yelled at by some Yeshiva bochurim in Jerusalem for wearing an army uniform. It was dark, so I pointed out to them my black kippa and asked them what their problem is with me, an Orthodox Jew. One of them yelled, “how much money are you getting paid to show us your black kippa?” They walked away, “convinced” that I’m probably getting paid to wear a black kippa.
    Everyone is digging in deeper on his side explaining and convincing until they are blue in the face. And they succeed in convincing, themselves.

  17. dr. bill says:

    it is important to distinguish a)uniquely qualified scholars and/or decisors, from b)accomplished talmidai chachamim from c) those gifted students identified as potentially a) or perhaps b) from d)full-time students. it is also important that everyone who is machmir do so here as well. if this were rigorously applied, those few that would not be required to serve would be universally acknowledged.

  18. Joseph says:

    May I humbly submit that one central issue R. Beckerman misses is that this is not fundamentally a ‘halachic’ debate. To give an example, there are several Charedi poskim, among them recognised gedolei torah, who adopt something approaching a permissive attitude towards tax evasion, even in Chutz La’aretz (see the following article from R. Chaim Rapoport: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=50521&st=&pgnum=128).

    Now were we dealing with a purely halachic question most of us would have little problem adopting an ‘eilu ve’eilu’ approach. After all – who are we to criticise those who rely on the halachic reasoning of gedolei torah? But I suspect that few of us would be happy to do that in this case, for essentially two reasons. The first is that issues relating to fundamental aspects of our worldview (especially matters of basic honesty) are much less amenable to an ‘eilu ve’eilu’ approach. The second is that another community’s decision to exempt themselves from what is commonly considered a basic obligation of citizenship (in this case paying taxes) has an affect on ME, in terms of how much tax I have to pay, and in terms of how I am perceived as a member of a broader community. It also leads to a fraying of the bonds of the society in which I choose to live.

    To give another example, communities in which devastating child poverty and extremely high levels of welfare reliance are prevalent can certainly cite gedolei torah who legitimate the hashkafic and halachic foundations of their lifestyle. Yet few of us would be willing to agree that we are not entitled to an opinion on these unfortunate phenomena simply because of that. Rabbi Broyde puts it well in note 45 of his Orthodox Forum essay on Tzedakah: “Putting aside the terrible violations of dina de- malchuta described in some of these articles and the undeniable chillul hashem involved in the airing of the community’s laundry in the North American press, the welfare statistics described in these articles are shocking only to outsiders of our community.”

    Should I accept that the worldview which systematically produces the humanitarian tragedies pictured so poignantly in the kupat ha’ir brochures is not one I am entitled to challenge, simply because those communities have ‘al mi lismoch’ on a halachic/hashkafic basis? To my mind that itself is a dereliction of moral duty.

    The parallels to the issue of army service are clear.

  19. Josh says:

    Though I hesitate to weigh in on this debate (because I do not live in Israel and it is not my place to say who should risk their lives in its defense), I am troubled by the author’s use of “Your life comes first” to justify non-learners not serving in the army. What is the “life” in “Your life comes first”? The author makes clear that it is “spiritual life”: the routine of thrice-daily minyanim, kevi’at ittim la-Torah, and steadfast avoidance of women and secular culture. The problem is that no aspect of this “spiritual life” is sufficiently halakhically weighty to overcome the piku’ach nefesh problem posed by total avoidance of military service by an entire sect of the Jewish people (contra the rumor mill, army service does not automatically entail avoda zara, gilui arayot, or shefikhut damim, even in non-Nachal Chareidi units). If current demographic trends hold, then chareidim will constitute the majority of the country within a few decades. If the chareidi community abstains from joining the army en masse until that day comes, then the security of the State of Israel will be imperiled: you cannot integrate a whole community into the culture and training of national defense overnight. (To those who would counter that the army is bloated and will need fewer soldiers in the coming years, I would say: Just imagine what would happen if all chilonim living in the coastal plain decided to opt out of military service tomorrow. Israel’s enemies would surely rush its borders to take advantage of the lack of manpower. Yet, that is effectively the same thing as the chareidi community avoiding military service until the day comes when they are the majority and will need to take responsibility for national defense. Whatever size the Israeli Army will be in 50 years, it will need its soldiers to come from somewhere.)

    So, respectfully, this is a piku’ach nefesh issue. I would like the author to clarify whether he believes that “Your life comes first” trumps the national piku’ach nefesh issue, or if he simply believes that no piku’ach nefesh issue exists.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    This popst was excellent-except for one elemebt-the notion that the creation of a sovereign Jewish state in the Land of Israel warrants no Halachic or Hashkafic reaction-even so far as a Cheshbon HaNefesh as to whether every Bachur and Avrech fits the criteria of a Talmid Chacham as defined in SA YD and whether his role in protecting the State and Land of Israel could and should be fullfilled in a manner other than learning on a full time basis.

  21. L says:

    Rabbi Rosenfeld, one thing I fail to understand about the challenge you so honestly recognize–that of the need for the Gedolim to openly state that it is preferable for boys who are not learning productively or at all to enter the army–is why the haskama of the Chasidish communities should be seen as an absolute prerequisite for such a statement by the “Litvishe” leadership. There are, as you acknowledged, major hashkafic differences between the Chasidish and non-Chasidish approaches to the legitimacy of the medinah, and I cannot comprehend why it is seen as more important for mainstream Litvishe chareidim to unite and find common ground with all but the most militant, extreme Chasidim (i.e, Neturei Karta), when there are seemingly no efforts made whatsoever to unite and find common ground with the Dati Leumi and “Chardal” communities/leadership.

  22. Yechiel Elchonen says:

    How come Secular Jewish girls carry machine guns and protect Chareidi Yeshiva Bochurs? Is this moral? As long as one secular Jewish girl is in uniform all Chareidi Yeshiva Bochurs have a duty to serve in the army. This issue is never addressed. Jewish men should protect Jewish women!

  23. Moshe Dick says:

    It is pretty useless to write truly critical comments as they get censored (often in my case). Nonetheless, in his second response,Rabbi Beckerman made reference to Divrei Hajomim 1-7 about the tribe of Yisosschor . To me, it indicates just the opposite of what he implies, namely that bnai Yissoschor did go to war as they are called giborei chayil. I don’t have access to the Netziv (or the tzitz eliezer) so I do not know on what they base their statement that the Bnai Yissoschor did not go to war. And even the Netziv ,according to Rabbi Beckerman, admits that thebnai yissoschor paid more to defray the costs of the war- not less, as is the case today!
    Lastly, the use of the Bnai Levi in this context has absolutely no consequence today, as we are not “bizman habayis”. The Rambam that gives the right to anyone to follow shevet levi in his dedication, applies only to a few individuals, does not mention the war option and, as you can form the Radvaz, clearly is only allowed if he does not rely on the klal to support him.

  24. Yaakov Beirach says:

    The problem with this article is that it doesn’t actually speak for anyone. The Israeli chareidim wouldn’t agree with this article; they do think the state itself is illegitimate and that is part of their calculation.

    The only people who agree with this are Americans. And it doesn’t really matter what the Americans think.

  25. Mr. Cohen says:

    Doron Beckerman, thank you very much for answering my question.

    But with great respect for both the Netziv and Doron Beckerman,
    the Netziv is too close to the Yeshivah world we have today;
    I want to see a statement from Tannaim or Amoraim or Rishonim
    which clearly teaches that that the Tribe of Yissachar was
    exempted from military service.

  26. Surie Ackerman says:

    “To translate this into practical terms, according to the Netziv, Yissachar was expected to shoulder other state needs (obviously, that would not impinge on their learning efforts) and there were economic consequences to their decision.”

    Interesting and very, very relevant. Israeli Haredim rarely speak of willingly accepting the economic consequences of *their* decisions, but of “decrees” aimed at destroying the Torah world.

    So how do we translate these practical terms into truly practical terms?

    As Dovid Rosenfeld points out, this issue cannot be resolved solely “with completely separate Charedi units and goodwill from the IDF,” as you call for. Goodwill has to come from both sides.

  27. Nachum Lamm says:

    “To respond to Martin Brody – I don’t know.”

    Of course you know. It’s because they reject the entire Zionist enterprise out of hand, which both explains all of your questions and demolishes all of your “answers.”

    But you’ll probably never see this comment, as the editor proudly exercises and iron hand in supressing dissent. At least he’ll see it, although it probably won’t affect him.

  28. Bob Miller says:

    If Israel was now under a religious government, would more chareidim be allowed by their poskim to work in commerce, industry or the armed forces? I sense that their objection to broader participation in these areas has come largely from a concern over government-induced assimilation to a secular lifestyle, which has indeed occurred in the State of Israel.

  29. Nachum Boehm says:

    Question: If only members of the tribes of Levi and Yissachar were priviledged with a “learning exemption,” why do Chareidim feel that they may arrogate this priviledge onto themselves? Shouldn’t the priviledge be limited to Cohanim and Levi’im, whether Chareidi or not?

  30. Nachum Boehm says:

    “At the same time, mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers. They daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis.”

    Question: I am truly curious about your use of the word “specifically” in your claim that mainstream Chareidi society daven and say Tehilim “specifically” for IDF soldiers in times of crisis. What is the number of Chareidi Yeshivas and Shuls, and what are their names, specifically, that daven and say Tehilim specifically for IDF soldiers, as you claim? (“Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel” after Tehilim doesn’t count.)

  31. eri says:

    “Instead, they lent a shoulder to bear the perspective of the rest of the nation, whatever was imposed upon them as necessary for the country’s needs… and they paid more tax toward the warriors than other tribes for war expenditures.”

    and this applies to today’s charedim how?

  32. Bob Miller says:

    I suspect that the reluctance of poskim to clear more bochurim for other occupations in the private or public sectors, including military training and service, stems largely from a fear of secular-government-fostered assimilation. There are enough past examples to make this fear understandable. Who will successfully reassure the poskim? Certainly not a government that harbors the likes of Lapid in high office.

  33. Toby Katz says:

    I just want to thank you for writing this thoughtful piece, explaining so clearly the charedi position on issues of major concern to all of Klal Yisrael.

    Those who disagree will continue to disagree; that cannot be helped. But praise is due to you for doing your best to uphold the honor of the “shevet” that is dedicated, body and soul, to limud Torah yomam valaylah — learning Torah by day and by night.

  34. Tzipporah says:

    Can one self-identify as Shevet Levi nowadays, thereby applying these Torah sources to himself as a member of the Chareidi community?

  35. Dr. E says:

    In this FAQ’s, Doron employes the classic dichotomy of being either Chareidi and not. This either-or assumption is problematic. It assumes that Shevet Levi is synonymous with Chareidi in a perfect overlap—with all of the privileges and responsibilities when it comes to the study and teaching of Torah. This simple categorical “association” with identifying Chareidi is one which does not hold water, since no one group has a monopoly on or ownership of Torah. It not only ignores the nuances of today, but also what has always historically been the case. Any attempts to rationalize the world as being that simplistic weakens any potentially salient arguments for pertinent exemptions.

    For whatever it’s worth, I quickly came up with at least 6 different groups within the religious camp, and 1 beyond.

    Dati Leumi in Hesder who take both their learning and service to Am Yisrael seriously
    Dati Leumi in serious Mechina programs who take their Torah learning and service to Am Yisrael seriously
    Dati Leumi or Chardal with acumen and/or interest in learning full-time for the long-term
    Chareidi with acumen and/or interest in learning full-time for the long-term
    Chareidi without interest in learning full-time indefinitely, even if they are bright and can learn well
    Chareidi without the acumen or zihtzfleisch to even learn full-time, in the short term
    Chilonim for whom Torah study is not relevant, but who have skin-in-the-game as far as service to the country

    If one is intellectually honest and includes into the equation (beyond just “Yeshiva/Kollel”) the options of National Service, Nachal Chareidi, and some sort of professional/vocational training, that more closely aligns with reality.

  36. Baruch B. says:

    Thank you Rabbi Doron Beckerman for a thoughtful piece explaining the basic position of one side without resorting to inflammatory statements, strong condemnations and accusing the many for the actions of the few.
    Thank you for not trying to convince the readers of the rightness of your position.
    Thank you for not trying to change society to your specific vision of how it should be.
    Thank you for keeping sholom a priority.

  37. Yisrael Asper says:

    martin brody:”

    The prayer for the State of Israel composed by Chief Rabbi Brody, and endorsed by subsequent Chief Rabbis Jakobowitz, Sacks and Mirvis contains no mention of “the beginning of the flowering of our redemption”
    Ultra Orthodox don’t say it in Britain either. So what’s their excuse?”

    Answer from the article:”…(1) There is reticence toward adding new prayers in general, as evidenced by Rav Shach’s opposition even to an elegy for those killed in the Holocaust (!). While his position on this issue is not generally followed, the Mi Shebeirach for the IDF soldiers has more baggage attached, because (2) it was established by the Chief Rabbinate to be said in conjunction with a prayer for the State of Israel, which includes controversial reference to the State as the beginning of the flowering of our redemption. This created a bias toward omission of these prayers in toto, as saying one without the other, or even while omitting some parts, seems contrived. At the same time, mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers. They daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis.”

    The reason why you were not answered seems to be not from a lack of an answer and the strength of your question but from you having phrased your question combatively when the answer exists in the very place you have a question on.

    The “Ultra-Orthodox” don’t need an “excuse” to not say the prayer. They need a reasoning and like theirs or not have one. There is a barrage of attacking of Chareidim going on amongst a group of commentators on this site and while asking for chesbon hanefesh of Chareidim is fine there is a lack of it from so many commentators of themselves and their factions. Do they not need to give an accounting of themselves and their factions? If the answer given is anywhere near no, that is hypocritical, self-righteous and superficial.

  38. Baruch Gitlin says:

    To respond to Mr. Cohen, we find the Netziv to Bereishis 49:14-15:

    “During the days of the Judges, while there was of yet no monarchy, the accepted mode of conduct was that each Tribe would dedicate some number of soldiers and expenditures necessary to protect the country. The Tribe of Yissachar did not dedicate any soldiers… but the Tribe of Yissachar were not counted to be warriors until David ascended the throne and imposed upon them to be counted for war… the reason they refused to put up warriors… was Torah study….. Instead, they lent a shoulder to bear the perspective of the rest of the nation, whatever was imposed upon them as necessary for the country’s needs… and they paid more tax toward the warriors than other tribes for war expenditures.”

    I think that’s very interesting, and to me, it seems perfectly fair. I think it would be an ideal solution here in Israel.

    I think this Netziv also helps to illuminate the main problem with the situation here. Not only does the haredi Torah world in Israel not provide more tax, or anything else, to make up for its exemption from army service, its spokesmen do not seem to recognize any obligation whatsoever to do so, or in any way to recognize that the exemption they have been receiving is anything other than a sacred right. That does not seem to me, at all, to be in the spirit of the Netziv quoted above. Moreover, the Torah world, through its politicians, has in fact received benefits, such as kollel stipends and housing benefits, that other segments of the population do not receive. When these benefits are threatened, reduced, or taken away, the response has generally been to vilify the politicans responsible and their voters. I do not think this is at all in the spirit of the Netziv cited above.

    And finally, as this article acknowledges, there are people in this world who do not actually learn full time, but who nevertheless receive the exemption that should be reserved for full time learners – a situation which has been documented, and which I think anyone familiar with this world can verify. The author writes: “It is to be hoped that this issue will be resolved with completely separate Charedi units and goodwill from the IDF.” I’d simply like to comment that goodwill is a two way street. The spiritual problems of army service are real enough, but they exist for the many dati soldiers that serve. Moreover, they exist for non-religious soldiers as well. There aren’t parents in this country who hate the fact that their children are forced to fight, risk their lives, and sometimes kill? There aren’t non-religious, as well as religious, parents that worry about the dehuminizing effect army life, occupation duties, and combat, can have on their children? Of course there are. When the Plesner committee addressed the issue a year ago, the haredi representives boycotted the proceedings. Why did they not use the opporunity to lobby for more haredi-friendly units? Have these politicans taken any steps to seek solutions? Is all the good will supposed to come from the rest of us?

    In short, if the haredi Torah world wants the rest of us to take their Torah-based arguments seriously, I believe they need to show that they themselves are sincere about these beliefs, and are not simply using them as arguments to preserve a privileged situation. As I wrote above, goodwill is a two-way street.

  39. micha says:

    Yissachar might be a more exact parallel than Levi. Levi didn’t sit and learn full time, they taught, they did the service in the Temple, etc… Yissachar was known for its kollels. But Yissachar was drafted. So perhaps it’s clergy, not study, that exempts Levi from the draft. Recall that when Rav Moshe wrote, kollel was generally for a fixed time (R’ Aharon Kotler set a limit of 5 years) after which that Torah was supposed to be shared with the world. Was he saying that studying for its own sake in R’ Chaim Volozhiner’s sense (Nefesh haChaim IV) is reason not to serve, or “its own sake” — to do and to teach — as the gemara spells it out?

    Although, according to the Netziv, not all of Yissachar actually fought when drafted. Rather, they moved their kollelim specifically to the front,, on the army bases. (HaEmeq Davar, Davarim 33:18, “veYissachar be’ohalekha”, see HebrewBooks’org’s copy here.) This is where their protection was most needed. Non-coincidentally, it must have had a serious impact on the holiness of the camp, with secondary effects on the environment and the behavior of the fighting men. Think of what a plan like this could do for Israeli culture!

  40. dale says:

    Rabbi Beckerman also claims that “mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers” and that “they daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis.”
    The IDF is working constantly for the security of Am Yisrael, not only in times of “crisis”.Having two sons in combat units, I’m aware of the frequent potentially dangerous missions that they are involved in, In addition to this, the moment someone dons the uniform of the IDF, they become a target for terrorist activity, no matter what role they are fulfilling within the Israeli army.
    It seems that there are a lot of people out there unaware of the constant sacrifice, and even heroism, that is going on to ensure their safety and allow them to go on with their day-to-day life.

  41. Isaac says:

    “A: Because there was always a portion of Klal Yisrael that was dedicated to full-time Torah study and that did not serve in the army.”

    With this statement you are referring to the tribe of Lavi.
    As the Rambam had stated on this:
    “Why did the tribe of Levi not acquire a share in the Land of Israel and in its spoils together with their brothers? Because this tribe was set apart to serve God and to minister to Him, to teach His straight ways and righteous ordinances to the multitudes, as it is written:” “They shall teach Your law to Yaakov and Your Torah to Yisroel;” (Devarim. 33,10).

    What do the Charedim teach the rest of the Jewish nation, and when will they commence with their obligations?

  42. Akiva Cohen says:

    First, thanks to R’ Becker for the cogent explanation.

    However:

    “Q: Is there halachic basis for this exemption?

    A: Yes. While it is a matter of debate among the Poskim …”

    Once this is acknowledged – which includes acknowledging that according to some Poskim there is no halachic basis for the exemption – how can people who believe Chareidim should serve be excoriated as “sonei Torah” or accused of “criminalizing Torah study”?

  43. L. Oberstein says:

    Of couse we are preaching to the choir,beause no one lisens to the other side. What I realy don’t know is what the real,true,actual feelings are on the chareidi street. Some say that many boys want very much to leave the yesihva and go to Netzach yehhudahand get job training. There is the growth of working chareidim and they are the vanguard of the future. Maybe that is an exageration and as others tell me, the chareidim don’t want to change, they are convinced that they are right and that any other path will lead to their own children going off the derech. So, what is the truth, does the street believe the party line or are they intimidated from expressing it? Won’t less money coming from the governement and opportuiti9es for subsidized job training for chareidi men eventully win out over those who rejoice in going to jail the same way certain rabbis wanted to be arrested for demonstrating in front of the Soviet Embassy,etc. It becomes a mark of pride to have been in jail for the cause. Because of all the spin on both sides, I dont’ know what thereal situtiaon is on the ground.

  44. Doron Beckerman says:

    I would love to respond to the many comments here (and also to the points posed on rationlistjudaism), but the time between now and Pesach is exceedingly hectic for me. I do apologize for my inability to do so at this time. In compensation, I was very free-handed in approving comments.

    Regarding the halachic arguments, I ask all questioners to please read the five sources that I cite toward the beginning of my post; many of their points are therein addressed. Regarding current reality, I will just cite Minister Peri of Yesh Atid, who acknowledged that the Charedim “Hechelifu diskette” – did come around to some change their perceptions of what the future must hold.

    A Chag Kasher Vesameiach to all.

  45. Rabbi Zvi says:

    R’ Beckerman:

    “Regarding the halachic arguments,…”

    Unfortunately, the big Halachic questions are not addressed in any Halachic manner. There is Halacha about accepting charity in order to learn – that is Assur. Let us start with that.

    If your learning is accomplished by violating precepts in Halacha, is your learning of the quality that will afford protection?

  46. Akiva Cohen says:

    R’ Beckerman

    Chag Kasher v’Sameach.

    Re Igros Moshe: R’ Moshe opens by acknowledging that army service is an important “Inyan Gadol”, but that Limud Torah for “Lomdei Torah” is an even more important “Inyan Gadol”. Reliance on R’ Moshe would thus seem to, at a bare minimum, require acknowledgement that army service is an important and positive thing even while maintaining that Limud Torah is “more important”. Even ignoring the other issues with being somech on this t’shuva – R’ Moshe’s reliance on the government’s acquiescence in the exemption, reference to “limud hatorah l’lomdei torah” and limitation of his principle to people who are striving to become a “gadol batorah u’b’horaah ub’yirat shamayim” – it would seem that the Chareidi world is failing at this basic task of HaKarat HaTov: recognizing that those who *are* taking up the burden of army service are benefiting the Chareidi community and deserving of respect, praise, and thanks. Each and every rally and meeting and speech should start with that acknowledgement. It would go a long way towards repairing good will and easing tensions.

    Re the Netziv: As others have pointed out, in his formulation the mere act of limud Torah was not enough for Yissachar to be exempt; they also had to take on a greater share of non-military burdens than their military-serving brethren. Again, were the Chareidi world to take this approach in its entirety, rather than picking up only the Netziv’s statement that Yissachar didn’t serve and ignoring the rest, the dynamics would be very different.

  47. Steve Brizel says:

    R Beckerman wrote in relevant part:

    “: Why do those in the Charedi learning centers not say a Mi Shebeirach for the IDF soldiers?

    A: Some do in some form or another, but it is to be conceded that most do not. The truthful answer to this question is a combination of two factors: (1) There is reticence toward adding new prayers in general, as evidenced by Rav Shach’s opposition even to an elegy for those killed in the Holocaust (!). While his position on this issue is not generally followed, the Mi Shebeirach for the IDF soldiers has more baggage attached, because (2) it was established by the Chief Rabbinate to be said in conjunction with a prayer for the State of Israel, which includes controversial reference to the State as the beginning of the flowering of our redemption. This created a bias toward omission of these prayers in toto, as saying one without the other, or even while omitting some parts, seems contrived. At the same time, mainstream Charedi society is very deeply concerned about the welfare of the IDF soldiers. They daven and say Tehillim specifically for them in times of crisis”

    Could you point to some positive documentary, as opposed to anecdotal proof that the above has been the case since 1967?

  48. Yankel says:

    We are constantly asked to treat irreligious jews as a legitimate strain in Judaism. Sorry, they don;t have a right to be irreligious, just a power. Just like a man has the power to beat his wife (usually). That is not a right.
    There is no military exemption for Charedim. Anybody who wants to study full-time, may. That includes Chilonim. If Chilonim ignore that opportunity let them not blame Charedim.

  49. Toby Katz says:

    Yechiel Elchonen wrote:

    “How come Secular Jewish girls carry machine guns and protect Chareidi Yeshiva Bochurs? Is this moral? As long as one secular Jewish girl is in uniform all Chareidi Yeshiva Bochurs have a duty to serve in the army. This issue is never addressed. Jewish men should protect Jewish women!”

    >>>>

    The Israeli army does not draft girls because of any manpower shortage. It’s not like the girls are there because so many boys are in yeshiva and they need all those people. On the contrary, the IDF is way overstaffed and does not even need all the soldiers it has. And much of the work that is done by draftees could be done more efficiently and more cheaply, and with fewer people, by civilian career employees.

    Also the girls don’t generally carry weapons or protect anyone. After basic training, they mostly do clerical work. The brighter girls are assigned to intelligence, education or translating duties.

    Israel drafts women because of a radical leftist egalitarian ideology dating back to the heyday of Russian socialism. There are only two countries in the world that draft women. North Korea is the other one. This should be a source of shame to us.

    Despite the egalitarian ideology that men and women are the same, we know all too well that is not true and we know all too well what happens to far too many girls in the military. We know how they dress, how they behave, and how they are treated by their peers and by their superior officers.

    The presence of girls in the army, I might add, is another factor that makes military service so problematic for someone who wants to live a life of holiness. Until there is a vast cultural change in the secular Israeli polity, they are not going to stop drafting girls and the girls are not going to start behaving like refined young ladies.

    It is also interesting that you say “Jewish men should protect Jewish women” in view of the fact that women in the IDF are routinely preyed upon and sexually harassed by men. You are right that women should not be in the military. But you will never get secular Israelis to agree with you about that.

    The women are not there because they are needed. If every chareidi man was in the IDF, they would still draft women, because that’s their ideology.

  50. Yisrael Asper says:

    The below is my comment corrected for grammatical error.

    Moshe Dick said “Lastly, the use of the Bnai Levi in this context has absolutely no consequence today, as we are not “bizman habayis”. The Rambam that gives the right to anyone to follow shevet levi in his dedication, applies only to a few individuals, does not mention the war option and, as you can form the Radvaz, clearly is only allowed if he does not rely on the klal to support him.”

    It is not true that the Rambam is writing this only for the days of bizman habayis. He is making a statement, a metaphysical statement for today as well any day. He writes:”Not only the tribe of Levi, but any one of the inhabitants of the world whose spirit generously motivates him and he understands with his wisdom to set himself aside and stand before God to serve Him and minister to Him and to know God, proceeding justly as God made him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek, he is sanctified as holy of holies. God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites. And thus David declared: “God is the lot of my portion; You are my cup, You support my lot.” Blessed be the Merciful One who provides assistance.”

    The Rambam says this applies to anyone, not just a few individuals by any means. Lest it be thought that if man offers assistance it would not be fulfilling what the Rambam is referring to remember that the Rambam said “God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites.” The Rambam had said earlier in the Mishna Torah we support the Kohanim and the Leviyim. So he is saying if we support them Hashem is doing it through us. In this case there is nothing mentioned about teaching. Even in the case of the Tribe of Levi teaching Klal Yisrael is only one thing the Rambam says the Tribe of Levi was set apart for and so is supported. The ones I mentioned join Levi in their primary task of serving Hashem but not in Levi’s primary task of having to teach Klal Yisrael. If it is to be objected that living off of charity to learn is not supported it has to be remembered that just receiving money is not called in of itself living off of charity. Is a PhD student receiving a college stipend living off of charity? The college gets charitable contributions too. If someone was told by his fatherinlaw he will be supported for a number of years by him so he can sit and learn was that living off of charity? Tzedaka does not cover deals made between you and an institution or your fatherinlaw and you in which you are offered money in exchange for learning. We can argue about practicalities and what we should be doing but the Halacha from the Rambam is not so free flowing for the anti-kollel side. He wrote what he wrote and it has to be seen objectively how it affects all sides.

  51. Ben Waxman says:

    i wasn’t going to weigh in here but i saw one point that is very, very inaccurate.

    Also the girls don’t generally carry weapons or protect anyone. After basic training, they mostly do clerical work. The brighter girls are assigned to intelligence, education or translating duties.

    this is about 20 years out of date. anyone who asks around, or does some google research (in hebrew) will find out that women (NOT girls!!!) can (and do) join a good number of qravi units.

  52. Marty Bluke says:

    Here is a quote from an article of R’ Aharon Lichtenstein on exemptions for yeshiva students (Tradition, Fall 1985) where he presents a very compelling argument against using the Rambam at the end of Hilchos Shemtia V’Yovel to justify draft exemptions:

    Finally, even if we grant that the Rambam’s statement does imply a categorical dispensation in purely halachic terms, it remains of little practical significance. We have yet to examine just to whom it applies. A levi [sic] is defined genealogically. Those who are equated with him, however, literally or symbolically, are defined by spiritual qualities; and for these the Rambam sets a very high standard indeed. He present an idealized portrait of a selfless, atemporal, almost ethereal person – one whose spirit and intelligence have led him to divest himself of all worldly concerns and who has devoted himself “to stand before God, to serve Him, to worship Him, to know God; and he walks aright as the Lord has made him and he has cast off from his neck the yoke of the many considerations which men have sought.” To how large a segment of the Torah community – or, a fortiori, of any community – does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five Percent? Can anyone… confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not to go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum, in the Rambam’s terms? Can anyone with even a touch of vanity or a concern for kavod contend this? Lest I be misunderstood, let me state clearly that I have no quarrel with economic aspiration or with normal human foibles per se. again, least of all do I wish to single out b’nei yeshivot for undeserved moral censure. I do feel, however, that those who would single themselves out for saintliness should examine their credentials by the proper standard.

    In essence, RAL’s point is that requires a tremendous amount of hubris for a person to say that my learning is so important that I don’t need to go to the army and fight, especially when in many other areas the person doesn’t show such great faith (as RAL describes). It is very nice for a person to say that they are joining Shevet Levi, but who says that they were accepted?

  53. micha says:

    Historically, sheivet Leivi did not sit and learn. Their role was to serve the people. The Rambam Yisrael Asper translated emphasizes this. Actually, the Rambam speaks more in terms of certain forms of sheirut le’umi, or kiruv kollel outreach work, than sitting and learning as an end in itself. As well as more resembling the notion of kolllel in the days R’ Moshe wrote his teshuvah, where it was priarily a means of preparing for a live of serving the community. As I already wrote, the closer parallel is to Yissachar, who did learn rather than teach. Yissachar went to the front, though, some to serve, some to learn in the army camps, in proportions unknown to me. Personally, I would love to see a class of fighting exemption that placed benei Torah among the forces of the IDF at a time when those who don’t believe have the most emotional incentive to. I think it would make us a holier and more unified people.

    Second, the Rambam doesn’t explicitly mention getting others to pay for it, or that others are obligated to pay for it (and condemnable if not), or exemption from the draft, or any of the above. We should recall that where the Rambam actually discusses learning itself, he prohibits making the Torah into a “spade to plough with”. It is very difficult to base the permissibility of kollel to begin with on the Rambam, although it has been done. (But again, in an era when kolllel was typically some 5 or so years, and preparatory to using that Torah for living outside the kollel.) Similarly, no mention of Levi’s exemption of the draft in his actual discussion of war. The discussion here is why Levi was not apportioned land. To take an implication from where it is off topic (whether or not my “first” shows that it shouldn’t be taken) to overlook the actual law as he spells it out when addressing the topic, is difficult to me.

    But this too, greater minds than mine have disagreed, and it’s not for me to say there is only one approach to Torah and others must abandon their mentors’ viewpoint for my mentors’. On the other hand, this is a theoretical discussion here — no one should be making up their minds about a halakhah based on on-line discussion — so I find it more valuable to discuss ideas than the authority of those who said them.

  54. Moshe Dick says:

    There are many incosistencies in Rabbi Beckerman’s response but this is for another time. For now, I’ll start with a brief response to Yisroel Asper: Please check the RADVAZ and you wil see that he clearly writes that the person who espouses this lofty goal can do it but should not rely on the klal for this! This is fully in line with the Rambam’s insistence that talmidei chachomim should never use their Torah for a livelihood (hilchos Talmud Torah). HKBH will make sure that this special person finds his livelihood in a special way and this can be through a family member, an easy parnossoh (real estate?) or any other way that gives him the opportunity to learn as much as he wants. It does not mean that he can rely upon the klal.
    In effect,though, this whole argument is moot. Until this century, there never was a tradition that people stay in kollel forever. Even in pre-war Europe, the kollel life was limited to five years and thereafter the talmid chochom searched a position to make a living as Rov, melamed, Shochet,etc. (this is akin to a graduate student using his stipend for a limited amount of time and then uses his degree for a job).Todays’ system in Israel is a falsification of that philosophy and has never been practiced in our history.

  55. Yisrael Asper says:

    Moshe Dick said:”There are many incosistencies in Rabbi Beckerman’s response but this is for another time. For now, I’ll start with a brief response to Yisroel Asper: Please check the RADVAZ and you wil see that he clearly writes that the person who espouses this lofty goal can do it but should not rely on the klal for this! This is fully in line with the Rambam’s insistence that talmidei chachomim should never use their Torah for a livelihood (hilchos Talmud Torah). HKBH will make sure that this special person finds his livelihood in a special way and this can be through a family member, an easy parnossoh (real estate?) or any other way that gives him the opportunity to learn as much as he wants. It does not mean that he can rely upon the klal.”

    Is receiving a Kollel stipend relying on the Klal? If a Yeshiva gets a charitable contribution are the Rebbes who get paid relying on the Klal?

  56. MOshe Dick says:

    To Israel Asper: Yes, clearly, receiving a stipend from a Kollel is relying on the klal. You may not mind that but that money is from the klal. As far as rebbe-im in a yeshiva- they teach and they should get paid- either directly, if you think like the Kessef Mishne, or for bitul zman, if you want to follow the Rambam. And, lastly, I have never had a problem with anyone wanting to stay in kollel, if he has means to support himself-either throught family connections or even- gasp!- his wife. However, this should be absolutely voluntary and should only apply to a select few- check the Gateshead kollel, which limited the kollel to a very few (at least,in the early days)and even pre-war Slobodka, where the kollel was for the very select few. Additionally, in both of these case, the time in kollel was limited to five years ,I think. Not for everyone and certainly not forever.

  57. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Micha identifies the role of Levi as service in active teaching and kiruv mode in contradistiction to Yissachar, who learned Torah in proximity to fighting troops, thereby increasing their yirat shamayim and morale. He states that he would like to see something like this in the IDF. I’m sorry, but when, I believe it was the Cast Lead (Oferet Y’tzukah) operation a few years ago in Gaza, the Army Chief Chaplain actively provided this hizuk for the troops which many found very welcome, Rav Ronsky found himself kicked out of his position. Just shows how far we have to go.

  58. Yisrael Asper says:

    MOshe Dick:”To Israel Asper: Yes, clearly, receiving a stipend from a Kollel is relying on the klal. You may not mind that but that money is from the klal.”

    It doesn’t matter what I mind or not. We are talking of Halachic definitions. How does receiving a stipend from a Kollel mean you are relying on the Klal but if you are let’s say doing something beyond learning let’s say as a Community Kollel Rabbi all of a sudden you are not relying on the Klal or are you saying a Kollel somehow ipso facto means everyone connected with it including its janitor is relying on the Klal? You have given me no argument as to why a stipend from a Kollel is relying on the Klal. How about a PhD candidate receiving a stipend from a University that also gets money from contributions is that relying on the Klal? Is the Rosh Kollel who gets a salary for doing work for the Kollel as his job is he relying on the Klal? Why is a Rebbe not relying on the Klal? Don’t Yeshivas receive contributions? Having to get paid means everything else is relying on the Klal? Whose definition is this? It seems you are deciding what psak you want and then saying what past Gedolim would have said about it.

  59. Ben Waxman says:

    How about a PhD candidate receiving a stipend from a University that also gets money from contributions is that relying on the Klal?

    There are no rishonim who say that there is an issur for PhD candidates to receive a stipend.

  60. Ben Waxman says:

    Rav Ronsky found himself kicked out of his position

    That isn’t accurate. It is true that the Rav was criticized by various elements in the army for messages that he gave during the war (and praised as well by the then Ramat Qal). In addition, he was slammed for things he said about a particular officer (I am not going to detail; look it up if anyone is curious). Rav Ronsky was also attacked for participating in a mission on Shabbat.

    However, since Rav Navon (who had the job for some 20+ years and it is generally agreed that was much too long) the army has been keeping to the “five year rule” for the chief rabbis. Rav Ronsky’s term ended and he left office. End of story.

  61. Yisrael Asper says:

    Ben Waxman:”How about a PhD candidate receiving a stipend from a University that also gets money from contributions is that relying on the Klal?

    There are no rishonim who say that there is an issur for PhD candidates to receive a stipend.”

    Are there Rishonim that say it is assur to receive a stipend from a Kollel? If yes were they just opposed to receiving a stipend from a Kollel from New Jersey or is being in any Kollel outside of New York City or Miami Beach Florida, still too high a price to pay, even with a stipend?

  62. Moshe Dick says:

    TO Yisrael Asper: According to your interpretation of receiving funds, no one is ever relying on the klal as you can always call it a ‘stipend’ or a “scholarship”. SO, how does that chime with what rishonim say (like the Radvaz) that taking money from the klal is relying on the klal? Just because you call it a ‘stipend’ doesn’t make it less of a reliance on the klal. The difference is very simple: what is the quid pro quo. Obviously, rishonim felt that receiving money from the klal is zedokoh and should not to be relied upon by talmidei chachomim for their livelihood. Your analogy to a PH.D. (or any other graduate stipend) is faulty. Everyone agrees that there should be room for a certain number of ‘metzuyonim’ to receive support for a certain number of years. This is the custom in Ggateshead kollel and others and was certainly the custom in pre-war Slobodka where the limit was five years. The objection is to the idea of “universal kollel forever”. That absolutely was never part of Jewish custom.

  63. Yisrael Asper says:

    Moshe Dick:”TO Yisrael Asper: According to your interpretation of receiving funds, no one is ever relying on the klal as you can always call it a ‘stipend’ or a “scholarship”. SO, how does that chime with what rishonim say (like the Radvaz) that taking money from the klal is relying on the klal? Just because you call it a ‘stipend’ doesn’t make it less of a reliance on the klal. The difference is very simple: what is the quid pro quo.”

    You sit and in exchange an institution or person is giving you money. If I or an institution says let’s give money to people to visit the sick for example, that’s not relying on the Klal even if this is how you will earn your money in life. If the Rishonim had said one may not receive money from the Klal to sit and learn that doesn’t preclude one receiving such money from an individual or an organization. If the Rishonim only prohibited relying on charity from the Klal to sit and learn then he is not being prohibited from relying on a stipend from the community in general to sit and learn. Charity is given without strings attached. A stipend can have strings attached to it.

  1. April 7, 2014

    […] why are the Gedolim, at present, making no effort to send them where they belong? This is a point addressed briefly by Rabbi Doron Beckerman in his larger post on the draft issue, but deserves greater […]

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