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Yeshiva Students, sports and army


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Adar II 22, 5776
Could you please tell me which are the preferred sports exercised in the Yeshivoth. Why are so many (majority) of Yeshivah students wearing glasses, is it that their eyesight is reduced due to the small print they are reading on a daily basis and that for many years. What is the real reason that Yeshiva students don’t want to joint the army and to defend the state of Israel?
There is a significant difference between the Zionist yeshivas and the non- Zionist ones on this issue. The Zionist yeshivot educate towards rejuvenating the original Judaism as it was in the Land of Israel before the exile, as we find in the Tanach (Bible) where all of the heroes, like Moshe, Joshua, Gidon, Samson, David et al, were great warriors and had a “healthy soul in a healthy body”, as R. Yehuda HaLevy directs in his Sefer HaKuzari. Accordingly, these yeshiva boys prepare for their army service, doing long-distance running, basketball, soccer etc., and produce many, in some units even most, of the most motivated and able-bodied soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force. There are a disproportionately high number of them in the elite units and officers courses. But your question is obviously geared towards the non-Zionist yeshivas, which continue to educate as during the exile, ignoring the Holocaust, the return to the Holy Land, revival of the Holy Language and the army of Israel, as if nothing has changed over the last super-eventful 75 years. In these yeshivot, the body is generally neglected and if any sports are found at all, it’s occasionally chess. In short, it’s hard to take the Jew out of exile, but it’s even harder to take the exile out of the Jew! Nevertheless, as exile life gets further away, in addition to the fact that they are beginning to comprise a considerable percentage of the 18 year-olds in Israel, inevitably more and more are gradually serving and returning to the picture of the original "Ideal Jew". In addition to rigorously learning up to 17 hours a day in many yeshivot, often Jews (especially ashkenazic) genetically have problematic vision.
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