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Draft Dodgers

By Tzvi Fishman
4/7/2008, 12:00 AM
A draft dodger can be a supposed Ultra-Orthodox Jew who refuses to serve in the army. A draft dodger can also be a Jew in the Diaspora who doesn't come to Israel to join in the fight. But for those of you who are tired of hearing the truth from me, here's an excerpt from another razor-sharp essay of Rav Nachman Kahana on the Torah portion:
 
IN OUR GENERATION a major source of disunity within the Jewish nation is the uneven distribution of historic responsibility, where so much is carried upon the shoulders of so few, while the many escape their religious and national responsibilities under the aegis of unfounded religious self-justification.
 
The life force of the Jewish nation today is Eretz Yisrael. Within the destiny of our land and people lies the destiny of Jews the world over. World Jewry’s honor, security, creative genius, and religious Torah level are all dictated by what transpires here in the Holy Land. When we are strong and victorious, a Jew in Paris can walk the streets in safety; but when we are perceived to be weak and faltering the Jew in Belgium fears to tread in the main square, and the Jews in the USA will awaken to see the hate written on the walls of their shuls. And the worst is yet to come!
 
Escapism is the nature of the Jew in chutz la’aretz. Some escape from the yoke of being God’s chosen people through intermarriage; some escape the demands of HaShem as expressed by the mitzvot by joining Conservative or Reform replacements for authentic Judaism; some escape into the tunnel vision of the kollel, some find refuge under the cape of deceased rabbis who if they would be alive would scorn their followers’ ignorance; but all escape the compelling call of Torah and history to return home.
 
But not all is well in Eretz Yisrael. We, dati people, too, are to blame for social ills caused by the escapism of many of our brothers. And indeed, the addressees of this lesson are not the Jews of the galut who are in free fall, but many of our brothers here in the Land who shirk their halachic responsibilities to defend the land and the Jewish nation.
 
It would be more than naive to believe that when the Jews of Persia fought on the 13th and 14th of Adar, in order to bring about the miraculous salvation that we call Purim, the talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) were learning in the yeshivot. The entire nation took part, because then, as today, it was a question of "to be or not to be."
 
To send men who are far from Torah and mitzvot to war is to put them in dire jeopardy, but to send Bnei Torah to defend the land is to insure victory.
 
The Torah (Devarim 23,15) has demanding parameters with regard to the sanctity of a military base:
 
“For the Lord your God is present within your camp to save you and defeat your enemies. And your camp shall be holy and no illicit matter shall be seen there so that He shall not draw away from you.”
 
To have women soldiers and men who do not adhere to the strict requirements of the Torah in military service, while talmidei chachamim and potential talmedei chachamim sit in comfort far from danger is, to my mind, a distortion of the Torah - an ugly hunchback we brought with us from the galut.
 
Those Roshei Yeshiva who feel the greatness of the moment should demand of the Army Chief of Staff to raise his demands. He should send home all the women in uniform to prepare themselves to be good wives and mothers, and recruit every able bodied Ben Torah, for periods of time suitable for service and continued learning.
 
How the army goes so goes the nation. In the future, students of history when researching our generation will find it incredulous that so many who loved HaShem and His Torah were not here in Eretz Yisrael, and more incredulous that those who were here were not in the vanguard of the defenders of Eretz Yisrael.
 
Nachman Kahana
 

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