Thursday, April 27, 2017


Army Service?

   by Reb Gutman Locks

Army Service?


     There is a major problem going on again in Israel over the forced draft of religious youth into the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). The Haredim, the "ultra- religious" Jews who are known to reject modern secular culture are resisting, often violently, and the State is defending, often violently, against their resistance. Who is right? Or better yet, what can be done to solve this problem?

     Both sides have legitimate complaints; the State says that all citizens are obligated to share in the responsibility of defending our Nation, and the Haredim say service in the army is like throwing their youth into a pit of secular, irreligious futures.

     My opinion: both are right. All of us have to share in the burden of defending ourselves from the aggressive, violently anti-Jewish surrounding countries, and the Haredim are right too. The IDF today mixes young men and women, throwing them together into "free" immodest situations that encourage premarital sex, wild weekend partying, spending their days without Torah, wasting almost all of their time, causing them to leave their parents' traditions. These religious parents correctly demand the right to raise their children in sane, religious environments.

     The IDF is not going to change the Haredim, and the Haredim are not going to change the army. What can be done?

     I suggest that the youth who are subject to the State's military conscription law be organized into units that serve their required time in National Service in such activities as educating other Jews in Torah studies, or learning and applying such skills as emergency medicine, and emergency protection of their communities, any skills or practices that would improve the living standard of the poor in their communities. This could be done without removing the religious youth from their religious environments, and it will also satisfy the State's requirement of everyone sharing into the burden of self-defense… a simple, peaceful win/win solution. Hashem, let it be.  




  1. The Haredim could learn something from the Sikhs. They too were victimized by the Muslims (and others). So, they made martial arts training part of their belief-system. That being said, I think the Haredi lifestyle is just as regimented as the military, if not more so. At the very least, the Haredim should receive reoccurring self-defense training, including hand-to-hand combat (Krav Maga) and firearms instruction. Those that lack a martial spirit, could serve the military in others areas, as suggested by R' Locks, because not everyone is cut out for the military lifestyle, but I see nothing wrong with mandatory military service for those who are mentally and physically able to defend their nation.

  2. this non-starter of a compromise would have haredi youth risk neither life nor limb [their blood sumak tfei?], and either proseletyze those wishing to be left alone, or to serve to ones isolated community...

  3. Reb Gutman

    I posted similar on Reb Dob Bar Leib's End of Days blog about this.
    The Haredim could visit the sick in hospitals, visit old age homes, giving simple Dvar Torah's.
    They could help plant trees to beautify the land, and fix dangerous broken paving slabs etc.
    National Service which is non-militarised.


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