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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Principles of Mitzva Observance

Israeli Army service with the non-religious: contd.

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 1, 5781
Question
I understand how this can all relate to a Tinok Shenishba (that child who was kidnapped by the gentiles, and not granted a Torah education, so they’re not responsible for their "sins"), and I also didn’t mean to correlate them all to Achav (for example there is an Aggadah that also mentions the prohibition of doing a mitzvah with the "wicked", not necessarily Achav. I should have been more clear that I’m referring to Jews, like Ben-Gurion, who grew up Dati and then left the religion. They did hold human values (most of the time) but does that really remove them from being "wicked" when they still proudly deny Gods existence?
Answer
Some (but surely not all) of that previous generation may have learned Talmud in heder, but all were raised without studying Jewish Thought, philosophy, the benefit of the mitzvot, Tanach, hassidut, mussar and the more appealing depths of the beauty and emotion of Torah (exactly that which is used today in the yeshivot for Ba'alei Teshuva, to "turn them on" to Torah), so they too, are like that "Tinok Shenishba". But you asked about today's (!) secular, who are already several generations away from any Torah education, and all agree have that status. This is in addition to the other points I mentioned in the previous answer (please review them), and in the aftermath of the Holocaust which was the biggest Chillul Hashem in history, where many Jews, unfortunately but understandably, left Torah, and joined the gentiles in asking, "Where is the God of Israel?". On the other hand, it's precisely the Israeli army that you question, which was utilized by God, in the War of Independence and the 6 Day War, to make the greatest Kiddush Hashem, and show the world that the God of Israel is Alive and Well, and we are still the Chosen People, whom He returned to His Land of Israel, as He promised (Breishit 13, 15; Dvarim 30, 3). It's important also to inform you, that for most of the not-yet-religious, their service in the IDF is a step closer for them to Judaism, and not a step away. In addition to their befriending many religious soldiers for the first time, eating kosher food and Matzah (not chametz), having mezuzot on their doors, resting on Shabbat, hearing Kiddush etc., their service in itself (!) is a religious milchemet mitzva, so important it supersedes almost all mitzvot (see previous answer). In addition, if a secular Jew does a mitzva, what logic is there for a religious Jew not (!) to do that important mitzva?! We are not even allowed to rely on miracles by not serving in the army! Learn from Moshe Rabbenu, Yehoshua, King David and all of the Tanach heroes, that when Jews were in danger, they put everything else (including Torah study) aside. Please allow me to ask: are you personally preparing to/debating whether to join the IDF and be part of that mitzva & God's miracles, or are you just looking to find the faults of your fellow Jews? If the former, it's important to clarify, and I'm happy for you to continue asking, but if it's the latter, we have no interest in continuing your continuous search for shortcomings in Am Yisrael. The way of Judaism and all great rabbis is to the contrary, to give Jews the benefit of the doubt and see them in a positive light. You've probably heard of the famed R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv and the "Ohav Yisrael" (literally, The Lover of Israel, AKA "The Apter Ruv"), but surely have never heard of any rabbi whose claim to fame or was 'complimentary' nicknamed "The Soneh R'sha'im" (literally, The Hater of the 'Problematic' Jews). B'Ahavat Yisrael, Rav Ari Shvat
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