06 August 2014

Don't Turn the I.D.F. into an I.D.O.L.

11 Av 5774

I've had comments here and I've read comments elsewhere defending the concept of a "Holy" IDF. Now, I have not spoken against the IDF or the soldiers. But, on this subject of the IDF being "holy", I disagree with many good Jews. A couple of things inspired this blog post tonight. Here is one of them...
Soldiers given religious motivational speeches during Operation Protective Edge
Complaints surfaced on Wednesday about rabbis who gave motivational speeches of a religious nature to soldiers at staging areas for the ground operation in Gaza.
...A reservist who had participated in the recent campaign spoke to Reshet Bet and said that although soldiers were not obligated to listen to the rabbis’ speeches they were nevertheless given in general communal areas.
...Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald, dean of the Modi’in Hesder Yeshiva and a colonel in the IDF Reserves, rejected the criticism....
Shenvald said that soldiers were not in any way required to listen to the speeches and that anyone who wanted to leave could do so.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit also stated that soldiers were free to decide if they wished to attend the talks.
“These complaints come from extremists in our society who just want to find a reason for an argument,” said Shenvald, and claimed that such objections came from “sectors of society who used to but now no longer dominate the officer corps.”
Individually, the Jewish soldiers who are faithful to Hashem and to the Covenant which binds us to Him are holy, as is every other Jew, whether a soldier or not. Being a soldier does not confer a special exalted status except in nationalistic, militaristic cultures.

But, the IDF as a whole - it can't be holy because it is full of tumah - heretics and goyim. At last report, a full 20% of the IDF took its oath on a new testament! This is not the army of Yehoshua who carried the ark of the covenant and wore tefillin into battle. THAT was a holy Jewish army!

I have to tell you something I heard this evening from the source, but I won't use names so as not to detract from the reward for the mitzvah. I heard about a group of kids who wrote letters and gathered treats to distribute to the holy defenders of Am Yisrael and do you know where they went to pass them out? A yeshivah!! Yes, these Torah learners are no less responsible for the defense and protection of Am Yisrael than the fighters in the field. And it was felt that the learners deserved recognition for their efforts no less than the fighters. We heard a lot about this kind of activity all across the country for the soldiers, but this is the only case I've heard about at a yeshivah. Kol hakavod to the holy rabbi and his holy rebbetzin who carried it out!

THIS is how you bring true achdut to Am Yisrael, by recognizing and appreciating each Jew for his unique contribution to the klal. When every Jew is seen as an integral part of the whole, as a necessary and vital element in the overall scheme of our life and destiny, then you have true achdut and not just a paltry patriotism which legitimizes half the population while delegitimizing the other half.

This afternoon, I went into Jerusalem to shop and when I got off of the bus at the Central Bus Station, there was a table set up where pretty young girls were selling T-shirts and handing out blue and white ribbons. It drew my attention and I went over with the intention of perhaps buying some for my grandchildren to wear. It said something like "Being strong - together" across the top. Ok. And then I read the bottom and it said, "Depend on the IDF." My heart sank. This is exactly what we don't want to be saying and thinking. All of the credit for our survival and salvation belongs to ONE - HKB"H. And we must never, ever think or allow anyone else to think that we can rely on any other - not the government, not the IDF, not the police, not our employer, no one except HKB"H.

The IDF on its own, without Hashem, is nothing! We, on our own, without Hashem, are nothing!

You know, sometimes, I'd like nothing more that to be able to stop struggling upstream all the time and just kick back and go with the flow. A time will come for that someday, but right now, we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of the Children of Israel and our success or failure will determine the amount of suffering we are all going to have to endure until the end finally arrives. Hashem yerachem.


  1. and while we are on the subject, i'm not crazy about the idea that torah study protects us

    hashem protects us
    and our mitzvos encourage tahat

  2. That's what it means. We earn Hashem's protection by fulfilling our part of the covenant - the performance of mitzvot - among which is limud Torah.

  3. http://www.vosizneias.com/174514/2014/08/06/berlin-germany-france-britain-propose-eu-mission-to-open-gaza-crossing/

  4. I was also chilled to read that 20% are taking their oaths on the false testament.

    Devash, I hope you take chizuk from how many of us read your blog and apparently feel that your insights resonate with us. I feel that serious scrutiny of Torah and Jewish history combined with serious scrutiny of all different parts of frum society leads to the conclusions you present here.
    I forget the exact quote, but Sarah Schenirer mentioned that you know you're probably on the right path if you are swimming against the current. It struck me because she was speaking within the frum community; she didn't seem to necessarily mean the current of the secular world. Also, either this parsha or the last really goes into how it seemed like so many were against Moshe Rabbeinu despite the fact that he was living his very life for Am Yisrael.

  5. Dassie - You are a constant source of strength. Thank you very much for your encouraging comments.

  6. From the book Religion in the Military Worldwide...

    See pages 135 and 136. It doesn't let me copy and paste the relevant parts.

  7. We need both - Torah and a strong army. We learn this from the Torah, i.e., the last two parshiyos in Barmidar and in Devarim as well as in Tanach. But in order for Torah learning to help K"Y, it should be done lishmah. When Jews in the army fight to save K"Y, their love for a fellow Jew (secular or observant)is strong. There are no ulterior motives. There desire is only to save Jewish lives and that is a great zechus, greater than Torah study.

    So, yes they are very holy, (excluding the goyim if what you say is true). If they weren't, Hashem would not have performed so many miracles for them.

    After the Operation Entebbe Rescue, the LR,zt'l, applauded the soldiers involved in the operation for saving many Jewish lives. He added: "their portion in the hereafter is guaranteed". I believe those soldiers who fought in Gaza also are guaranteed a portion in the hereafter.

    By looking down on the IDF and calling them heretics, is not achdus and can only impede the coming of Moshiach, C"V.

  8. I think you are a bit amiss here. Be careful of your criticism.

    A Jew is inherently holy, but his actions do not always display this. But he has within him the seeds do Holiness, I.e., al pi Kiddush HaShem.

    Therefore, depending on the soldier's kavanah so is his level of holiness. Just like all who daven with a minion are included within that holiness, so it is with other Jews within the IDF as a group fighting for Am Yisrael.

  9. Like all of you, I feel a lot of appreciation toward our IDF soldiers (and have been davening for them copiously), just like I feel appreciation toward doctors. Even though we know Hashem is really the One running things, He commands us to show gratitude to His agents. But some doctors can also be incredibly arrogant and immoral and make horrible mistakes, even as they save lives.

    And so it is with the IDF.

    There are so many female soldiers who have had abortions (paid for by the IDF) who would not have had they not been living on an army base. An old roommate told me about 2 girls she knew who went on to be elite prostitutes in Asia after their stint in the IDF. Furthermore, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi has mentioned the harassment of female soldiers, something that gets worse when the harasser is her superior.
    And the harassment runs both ways. I knew of a frum soldier who went to his tent only to find a chayelet waiting for him in his cot. He ran away.

    So yes, there are tzaddikim serving in the IDF. And there are many precious Jewish neshamas with beautiful potential serving there, too. But there is also some ugly stuff -- ugly stuff created specifically BY the army. And I haven't even gotten to the really high-ranking people, who for the most part, are not good people.
    By the way, I am speaking as a mother whose son is preparing to join a top combat unit.

    It is ugly that I must prepare him to go to jail rather than deport Jews or destroy settlements -- in Eretz Yisrael (where we have a Torah commandment to settle the Land) while serving in a "Jewish" army!
    It is ugly that the current reality forces us to discuss how he might have to decide between the lives of himself with his unit and the life of an Arab child used as a human shield.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, Dassie. May Hashem bless and keep your son.

  11. Amen and thank you, Devash. I wish the same to you and yours.

  12. Just read Dassie's comment now and a big Yasher Koach to her. She got a mitzvah for saying the truth so clearly because many are unaware of this. The soldiers who go out to defend Yisrael are doing a kiddush Hashem and may H' always protect them. But, as Dassie says, the atmosphere (especially of today's IDF) is everything but Jewish because of the purposeful policies of its leadership. Torah & Army is a Jewish concept, but according to the halachot of Torah.