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Loyal Soldiers

By Batya Medad
2/5/2008, 12:00 AM

Here's the latest "Voices From Shiloh" which appears in Sharon Katz's "Voices."

I recently wrote about the IDF, and one of my Shiloh Musings readers asked a very important, crucial question in the comments.

"Are we supposed to be proud of serving in the army? Are we making it into a specific ideal in itself?"
At first I didn't know how to answer him. Very conveniently I had to say my daily T'hilim (Psalms) and, even though I must admit that I mumble them, somehow an answer was formulated in my mind by the time I had finished. Here's part of my reply:
"Our Jewish soldiers should be in the army to observe the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh and keeping Eretz Yisrael safe and Jewish.That's what every one of our soldiers must be focused on, and then it's totally a mitzvah, a mitzvah to be proud of. If the army punishes the good Jewish soldier, it has to be seen as among the "trials/challenges" of living a proper Torah life."

The Israeli Left-wing has been dealing with their dilemmas, the conflicts between their ideology and army orders, for a long time. They show no embarrassment at refusing orders and writing protest letters. The media support them, and the politicians adopt their ideas.

The women in the extreme left-wing Machsom Watch keep denying that their harassment of soldiers endangers the soldiers and innocent Jewish Israeli civilians. They proclaim their "superior morality," even when facts contradict them.

Now back to our soldiers, our husbands, sons, brothers, neighbors.

It is a great mitzvah to be a soldier, a Jewish soldier for the Land of Israel. Defending Jews and defending our Holy Land are a privilege. The more frum soldiers in the army, the more power Torah will have in the army. I'm not claiming it's easy.

Why should any of us expect that building a Jewish State should be easy? Building a Jewish State is hard. As the mother of five and a grandmother, I know that giving birth and raising children, as wonderful, thrilling and important as it is, easy it's not. When we become pregnant, our body definitely undergoes changes. For many women, even the monthly ovulation can cause obvious changes to the body. Some women are almost unrecognizable during pregnancy, and so many books and articles have been written about childbirth, there's no need for me to go into detail. But I'm sure you all know that the uterus must work terribly hard to expel the baby, and then… ahhh, a newborn baby is so sweet, soft and helpless. Then they begin growing and developing. I'm sure most of you have seen infants crawling enthusiastically, proudly and earnestly backwards.

The Jewish People are so smart about some things, but we're not too wise about ourselves. Remember the "Golden Calf?" Such a short time after G-d's miracles facilitated our exodus from Egypt; couldn't we give Moshe another few days to get down from the mountain? Did they all have such exact watches and "palms" to keep track of the time? It's perfectly legitimate for someone to be late, not that he actually was.

G-d forgave, OK, after Moshe used all his powers. Then there's the story of the "Meraglim," spies. They were la crème de la crème of the Hebrews, and ten out of twelve decided that they knew better than Moshe, even better than G-d. The majority voted against G-d and Moshe. So much for democracy! Joshua and Caleb were the only ones to insist that our People, with the help of G-d, could conquer the Land and live in peace.

  • Our IDF soldiers must model themselves on Joshua and Caleb.
  • They must be proud to be soldiers, because it's a great mitzvah.
  • They must remember who the real Chief of Staff is.
  • They must remember who gives the true rewards and punishments.

Yes, we need strong soldiers, strong in faith in G-d.