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Diligent Torah learning and army service


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 19, 5775
I am confused by various viewpoints Firstly we have a Mishna Talmud torah cneged culam. Then we also have a rashi in Bechukutai that says we need to always be engaged in learning (Amel) be Torah. At the same time its obvious to me that we need an army etc. I also feel deep down that one cannou use learning as an excuse when everyone else is goin to the army. yet there are also non combat roles in the army? Please help me reconcile these views.
Talmud Torah is the single most important mitzvah, and Rashi there stresses we should be diligent in Torah study. That means to learn as much as one can, even in your spare time, and obviously not just theoretical study, but to observe that which one learns (including the mitzvah to go to war together with Israel)! David HaMelech was a great Torah scholar, and also a great warrior for Israel, for milchemet chova is included not only among the mitzvot that he learned, but it’s included as part of his declaration that he dedicated his entire (!) life for God (Tehilim 16, 5). The Torah is meant to be learned and also to be observed, and when Israel is at war, all of the Tanach heroes not only participated but led the charge! Those are the ideal Jews whom we should try and emulate. Moshe (Bamidbar 32) and Devorah (Shoftim 5) even got upset at those who didn’t want to go and help in the battles, while Devorah even curses them (v. 23), and explicitly praises the law-givers (v. 14) and tribe of Yisachar (v. 15, who according to tradition learned Torah full-time) who are among the blessed for going to battle there. In Tzahal today, there are about 7 non-combat soldiers for every front-line soldier. So too in the time of David HaMelech, the non-combat soldiers were given an equal share of the spoils as the combat soldiers (Shmuel I, 30, 24), because of the recognition of their importance role. Nevertheless, today, if a soldier is physically unfit for battle, being that there is usually no shortage of non-combatants, he should confer with his rosh yeshiva, for maybe he personally may contribute more to Am Yisrael in the yeshiva. Similarly, every boy should spend some intensive period learning full-time in yeshiva, but that doesn't contradict the fact that there is a time and place for every mitzvah.
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