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Ask the Rabbi
David Lev produced documentaries and television commercials before making Aliyah in 1999. He then organized Diplomatic Supplements for the Jerusalem Post. Later he led a PR mission to the British Government, aimed at increasing awareness of Israel's terrorist problems. David decided upon more practical measures by serving with a volunteer unit tasked with preventing such attacks. He has won a leading writing award for a competition hosted by A7. David is founder & editor of Aliyah Magazine, dedicated to attracting Jews to live in Israel.
Tammuz 18, 5772, 7/8/2012
Aliyah Magazine is concerned for the well being of Jews everywhere, and feels that the key to the success of our people is found right here in the Jewish Homeland.
For righteous Jews exploring a move to Israel, current events concerning the proposed mass induction of religious Jews into the IDF, probably leaves a bitter taste in their longing to be re-united with our people.
From Independence Day May 14th in 1948 onwards, the Jewish State of Israel had a subtle agreement between secular and religious forces concerning the division of power. It was no coincidence that the words 'Rock of Israel' was drafted into the emotional declaration speech in Tel Aviv. Rock was the subtle code to mean all things to all people. In particular, just about every citizen of the new state knew that this particular 'rock' alluded to Hashem.
The religious leaders were granted control of everything that maintained the Jewish nature of the state, which included the rabbinate and its powers to impose marriage laws, conversions, and other matters pertaining to Judaism, upon the country. Secular forces were equally granted power of mainly non-religious matters such as financial control, defence, transportation etc. Naturally, grey areas existed whereby each camp had a vested interest in maintaining its own ideology. Education was one such bone of contention, and actually serving in the army being subjected to a daily routine that could go against one's religious or secular interests was another.
Until recent years, the status quo was quietly maintained, and each camp enjoyed fairly broad acceptance of their own pursuits. Then over the last decade, conflicting interests have come into play, which has caused the very Jewish nature of our country to come under close scrutiny.
From certain religious quarters, a relentless drive to bring public funds into their establishments began to cause resentment from the general public. This 'nuisance factor' could have been kept under control, if it weren't for a simultaneous tirade of complaints against the mainly secular government, concerning other needs of the religious public such as banning driving on Shabbat, separated seating on public buses, amongst other issues deemed of prime importance. However, the critical proverbial straw, concerned a growing attitude of hostility towards the Israeli government, which included an almost indifference to those serving in Israel's security forces. During times of rioting, that indifference also exploded into violence against Israel's police force.
Hence, the secular public that had quietly tolerated what they saw as an increasing measure of ingratitude from a religious sector that they felt they subsidized, defended, and allowed to prosper, could be understandably ripe for a counter attack, in light of a perceived assault upon its establishment.
However, in Israel nothing is that simply black & white. Within each camp, extremist elements feel there is much to gain through bringing matters to a head. The Neutrei Karta is one prime example of a religious body obsessed with destroying the Jewish State of Israel. On the left there are equally radically motivated groups, also aiming to destroy the 'Jewish' control of Israel. These leftist groups openly challenge the very Torah values upon which the 'Rock' of Israel was created, according to religious adherents.
Just as our forefather Jacob took practical measures on the ground, as well as prayer, to defend his family against attack, so we too could learn from his example. After all, Jacob was also known as Israel; and we are the Children of Israel. Perhaps, the greatest legacy related to his life is the 'Shema', the Jewish prayer that swears alleigance to the one G-d of Israel. Nearly every Jew, regardless of their level of religious observance, is familiar with this declaration of faith. This prayer acknowledges the unity of the Children of Israel in proclaiming alleigance to one G-d.
Jews going into battle would be ready to utter this prayer with their last breath. However, more related to present day events, our anscestors understood the value of both serving G-d and standing side by side as a nation especially in battle. Accordingly, there would appear to be something that both sides could learn from each other?
The secular camp could well question where their present drive against Jewish studying of the Torah is likely to take them. It doesn't take too much imagination to understand that Israel is getting some form of divine help, and if a sector of our population claims to be working on Israel's behalf in the spiritual dimension of pleading for our survival, than it might be sensible to at least give some form of plausibility to this claim. Although, there is far more involved in studying G-d's laws than for making personal pleas. However, if Israel is serving G-d, than one would be inclined to feel that the reverse is true.
Of course, for those who have no desire to acknowlege an existence greater than their own, and even work towards undermining those who do, steps should be taken to counter their intentions, should one truly believe in the G-d of Israel. In this arena, many religious sectors could take heed of the cry of those who are more concerned with maintaining a balanced approach to an obvious problem, rather than allowing extremists on both sides to take control.
Accordingly, acknowledging some form of debt to a society that by and large does provide for their material needs and sends their own children forward to the battle front, which protects all, should be forthcoming as soon as possible. Indeed, it is possible to serve in a religious unit in the IDF, although other national service is also not such a burden, provided one can still reconcile the sages maxim of 'No Flour No Torah' (& vice-versa).
The secular seek to humble many of the religious rebels against the Jewish State of Israel, and maybe perhaps, there is some higher logic that allows for this eventuality to happen on some level or other? Many religious folk could take to heart that serving G-d can also be accomplished through serving G-d's chosen children...Israel. The 'sane' secular could also contemplate upon the concept that Israel herself needs to serve G-d.
I hope that much soul searching can be achieved, which will result in a stronger bond between all Jews; one less ambigous than any rock that could be cast against its own people.
Aliyah Magazine also reaches out to our Jewish brothers & sisters in the Diaspora. Please join us here in Israel. This is very much a part of your own struggle as well. We all have to work together to strengthen Israel, and serve Hashem as one!