by Reb Akiva’s Daughter (with some editing and annotations) @ Mystical Paths
Some of the comments on my article about religious army service, That’s NOT Self Sacrifice!, reminded me of an 8th grade teacher (rabbi) of mine in yeshiva.
He taught us, a room full of 8th grade girls, that our sole goal in life was to get married and serve our husbands completely so they could learn Torah. He also told us to forget any halacha (Jewish law) or Torah we knew, for we certainly couldn’t have learned it or understood it properly, and just listen to what he had to teach. (This is not an exaggeration, he literally said this to us and repeated it to my father when he came for parent teacher conference.)
But such value will only be achieved by me sacrificing for it, if I choose to do so because I see the value, not by belittling me into it.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe answered literally tens of thousands of people seeking wisdom and brachot (blessings) every week. Yet he not infrequently gave an answer (with a few variations) that some found surprising. It goes like this, “consult with a doctor who is a friend”, “get 3 expert opinions and follow the majority”, “consult with your rav and mashpia (personal spiritual advisor)”.
There is a special wisdom, and yes blessing, in not always answering directly or with Ruach HaKodesh, but in strengthening people to use appropriate local resources – both spiritual and worldly – to bring the right answers.
A commentor asked if I challenge whether the gedolim of this time are always to be followed. Yes and no. Let me explain…
If I go to a Gadol Torah (a Torah spiritual leader) and ask about shalom bayis (family relationship issues), halachic issues, educational or moral issues, or Torah questions – our Gedolim are the leaders, the wise men and the moral authorities of our Torah communities.
But should I consult with a Gadol Torah about the best rifle type for an Israeli combat unit? (M-16 long or short, or Tavor?)
It seems to me that the majority of the gedolim of today are not involved in today’s world. They’re surrounded by handlers and protectors who keep them isolated and limit the flow of information to them. This may be a blessing and benefit for their Torah study, but may not provide them with the basis of information to make decisions that require secular knowledge as well as Torah knowledge.
WE HAVE A COMMANDMENT FROM THE TORAH TO DEFEND OURSELVES. Even if we are only being raided to steal straw on Shabbos, we’re commanded to violate the Shabbos to defend our towns, homes and land. In Israel this is not theoretical, there are people trying to kill Jews EVERY SINGLE DAY.
In the Israeli war of independence, every healthy Jew picked up a gun and fought. Plenty of those men had payos and kippahs (sidelocks and yalmukas).
For the past 63 years, the charedi (ultra-orthodox) community has had the privilege of not doing so. Their numbers were not significant enough that it made a big difference.
Thank G-d that has changed. The ultra-orthodox community has grown by leaps and bounds. And if they (we) don’t stand up and start to take part, it will make a difference, a big difference.
As the numbers continue to grow, we must grow into the role of leaders as we become more than just a tiny minority. We must learn to defend ourselves and the country. For if not, who will?
Prayer and Teshuvah help. Yet while the Jews of Shushan fasted and prayed, they also gathered their weapons and put on their armor.
כל ישראך ערבים זה לזה
I think that means we all have to take part.
It’s time to stand up and do our part. Yes, our way. The most kosher food (glatt chalak), the highest standards of Shabbos observance (compatible with an army and life and death conditions), a proper tznius training environment, times for prayer and study.
My grandfather, a”h, survived the Holocaust and was a talmid of the Ponevitch yeshiva. He survived the Nazi’s (y”sm) in the Kovno ghetto and Dachau. His sister, a”h, when the Nazis (y”sm) came ran off to the hills and joined the Partisans. While he was struggling to survive the ghetto and death camps, she was struggling to kill Nazis. He surely would not have told her “it’s not tznius”, “girls shouldn’t pick up a gun”, “just daven and learn Torah and it will be all right.”
We have a religious duty to protect our lives. In Boro Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, London, and Baltimore, the religious Jewish communities have organized Shomrim – a private community policing service. Why? Why not just pray? Why not just learn? Isn’t it enough???
In these communities there’s threats of (semi-random) violence and theft, inner city crime levels.
Yet in Israel, where they are literally trying to kill us (every single day), it’s religiously prohibited to take steps to defend ourselves?
(I don’t mean to make Israel sound unsafe. But it’s safe exactly because a very large number of men and women are working hard every single day, with blessings min hashamayim, to keep it that way.)