This article was written a few months back.
Haters of the Draft
With the day of “demonstration and prayer” in Israel and the one in New York over, the Israeli cabinet is set next week to take up the Shaked commission’s resolution to have a universal draft for all. This will require a good part of the Charedi community to join the army. Speaker after speaker, article after article in the Charedi newspapers condemned this as an “attack on Torah”, saying there is no other reason for this, other than to destroy torah learning.
Let’s try and understand this universal draft: Each and every country the world over requires their citizens to do things for the well being and benefit of the whole country. Each country has the right to pass laws, obligations, and put restriction on their citizens for the civility and protection of the population. Not just a Nation or State has this right, but so does even a small town. Does not Rockland County have the right to pass laws, as to where you can park or how high you can build your home on your very own property? They also require from their citizens to provide Schools, Buses, Parks and a whole list of other services via the form of paying taxes. These taxes are not voluntary, should you not pay them, see how fast they will take your home away. So now, why doesn’t the democratically elected Israeli government have the same right to impose obligations on its citizens which they deem necessary for the benefit, safety and security of all the people in Israel? In Rockland County should a person claim he does not want to do his obligation and provide schools for others etc. He wants instead, to “pray” all day for the well being of the citizens of Rockland County. The county would look on the books and regulations to see if there is such an exemption. If there is not, he can scream, cry and make fast days, he will not be released of his obligations.
Everyone, Datiem and Chlonim, all agree that Israel indeed needs and must have a strong military for survival. They are situated between neighbors, all looking for the first chance to destroy them. Why doesn’t Israel have the same right as a sovereign nation, in a democratic fashion, require all its citizens to equally share the burden. Imagine if everyone at draft age tells the government he is protecting the country in a different way, then demands an exemption. One fellow will say, he is protecting the country by going on the internet all day and night looking for anti-Israel sites and exposing them. He claims, he is also protecting the country in that way, a great accomplishment indeed. However, as there is no such kind of exemption on the law books of the country, he will be told – do your duty to the army like everyone else and then go back to your noble deeds. If sitting in yeshiva and learning is not accepted by the Israeli public and government as an exemption, you cannot use that excuse to shake off your duty to your country.
When they claim “we are going to jail for learning Torah“, NO! It is not for what you ARE doing, but for “WHAT YOU ARE NOT DOING” and that is, your obligation to protect society like everyone else. They demand everyone else take all the military risks, pay all the bills, do the other obligations to society while they just sit back and reap the benefits (and never even saying thank you). What can you call this, nothing but PURE SELFISHNESS! Why can’t they sit and learn as they do from the age of 13 to 22, that is 9 years and then serve 18 months in a Nachal Charedi Brigade, fulfilling their obligations to society and then can go back to learning for the next 20 -30 years.
There are many obligations Charedim have that they must take away time from learning Torah. Why would it not right for someone to say, he is NOT going to get married and have a family, since starting a family is also taking away time from learning (the alter Mirrers in America did just that, pushed off getting married until their 40’s, as in those times they could not find a father-in-law who would support them) How many hours and days will be lost from Torah – helping at home, taking kids to doctors etc. “I will sit in the bais hamedrish and learn every waking hour”, as there is nothing greater then learning Torah. But, he is told no, you are obligated to do the mitzvah of Prei U’rive and you must do your obligation to further society, and then, with the rest of your time learn Torah. Why is the obligation to protect your country any different than this???
As discussed before, if they really believe their Torah learning “protects”. Why then, at the first incoming missile they scatter like flies. Why didn’t they stay in the bomb shelters and increase their Torah learning to protect, while also showing support to those that are actually fighting and protecting them. When the rockets fell, why didn’t the Rabbonim call a mass Tifilla at the gates of Yerushalayim? With this latest “million man march” why don’t they ask everyone to learn another blatt gemora for protection of the danger the claim they are in. Imagine if there was another million (or two million as we add in New York) blatt gemorah learned. As Torah protects, it would surely protect them. It is obvious it is just an excuse to get out of their obligations and let everybody else carry the burden for them. They also have now shown they realize they have to use their bodies, by closing the gemorah, go out into the streets and demonstrate to protect themselves.
Well, why don’t they also use their bodies to protect the rest of the population from harm?
All of us were davening this Sunday. Some went to daven to keep this sham going and some of us davened that this inequality and this outright unfairness finally comes to a justified end.
“Your brothers are going out to War and you just sit here!”
– Moshe Rabeinu
Haters of the Draft (PDF)
I think the Charedim do truly believe that their Torah learning protects the Jewish people from harm. It is on these ground that they can legitimately ask for an exemption to continue their Torah study. As for their failing to gather in support of the war effort to daven and learn for the soldiers during times of war and terrorism perhaps it comes down to the sad truth that they put politics (their lack of support for the state) above the individual lives of our brothers and sisters who serve to defend the very land they live in.
Great article and right on the mark! Of course, there are a million excuses given by the so-called gedolim but they don’t seem to shorten the bein hazmanim period or follow the simple halocho of making a living !
No the army is a melting pot for chareidem! (Ben gurion’s words)