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The Refusal to Follow Orders Strengthens the IDF

Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah loved the state of Israel with all his heart. For him, Torah and the state were not disparate values which conflicted. They constituted a single value—Torah. By virtue of the Torah, the state receives its great and profound worth.
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Was there anybody that loved the IDF more than our late mentor Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook? Was there anybody who loved the state of Israel more than he? Certainly not. Yet, it was precisely because of his love for the army and the state of Israel that Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah called upon the public, saying,
"There is no dispensation whatsoever when it comes to the Torah's prohibition against relinquishing portions of land to non-Jews—Heaven forbid!—and there never will be. Therefore, every Torah leader in Israel, and all military personnel, must act to prevent and obstruct this act with great courage and vigor."

He further affirmed that "Judea and Samaria will not go without a war . . . over our dead bodies and limbs."

I had the privilege, having been a student of Rabbi Tzi Yehudah, to study under him and to be in his company for approximately twenty-five years. As a result, I can say with complete confidence that if the Rabbi were with us here today, he would indeed call upon all soldiers, policemen and officers to disobey such orders. Such a stance was the result of his love for the state and the army, out of a recognition that the greater the number of resisters, the more the army and the state stand to be strengthened.

Rabbi Tzi Yehudah's love for the IDF sprang forth from his love of the Torah, the nation, and the land, for the obligation to follow military orders is based upon a Torah commandment, and the laws of the state likewise receive their authority from the Torah. Therefore, when military orders or laws of the state conflict with the Torah, they are null and void.

For Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah, Torah and the state were not disparate values which conflicted with one another. They constituted a single value—Torah. And by virtue of the Torah, the state receives its great and profound worth.

The state of Israel and the Israel's government are not one and the same. Governments rise and governments fall. The state is sacred, but an Israeli government is only sacred when it acts according to the Torah.

The IDF's strength derives from the great motivation of the soldiers, which in turn derives from a deep understanding of the value and sanctity of the nation of Israel and the land of Israel. The deeper this understanding, the better the solders. This is the reason that religious solders are of a distinctly high quality—they possess great faith in the sanctity of the nation and the land. This greatness of faith is what obliges them to refuse to participate in the uprooting of Jews from their ancestral inheritance in Israel.

The army will not be damaged as a result of such a dissent, even if the majority of the army refuses. To the contrary, the army will be strengthened and intensified. Whosoever claims that the army will suffer as a result of a refusal to carry out such orders is merely making a demagogic and completely unfounded accusation. Just as such an argument cannot be used to force a soldier to desecrate the Sabbath or to consume forbidden foods, so too no such argument can be employed in order to force a soldier to violate the commandment to settle the land of Israel.

There is no more democratic a cry than the call to disobey such orders, for if a majority of the soldiers heed it, it will prove that the people are opposed to the transfer, and the majority must be followed. Yet, even if only a minority refuse to carry out the dismantling, it is their democratic right to be true to their faith. Such people should not be forced to disavow their faith.

To the contrary, a blind application of force when it comes to such a weighty issue endangers the army. Any reasonable person can understand this. Applying blind force will weaken the motivation of the best soldiers to serve in the army and to continue in the higher ranks.

I therefore call upon all to abide by the words of the eminent Rabbi Avraham Shapira, who follows in the footsteps of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah, to act in such a way that will reveal that the majority of the nation and the majority of the army are opposed to the uprooting of Jews from their homes. What this means is to prepare a mass list of signatures announcing opposition to the disengagement and refusal to take part in this forbidden act.

It goes without saying that my words contain no permission to actively injure any soldier, policeman, or public figure. One who behaves in such a manner weakens us in our struggle against the dismantling of settlements.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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