The IDF is preparing for what may be a large scale assault by Palestinian Authority Arabs in September – with Bible study.
Lt. Col. Rav Yitzchak Ben-Yosef, Rabbi of the Ground Forces Command, hinted in a report on the Hebrew side of the IDF Website that the Rabbinate is stocking up on copies of Tanach, the Bible, in preparation for September.
"As [the former] Rabbi for Judea and Samaria I remember that we were often short of copies," he told the Website's Daniela Bokor. "In Operation Defensive Shield we had to carry in many books under fire, sometimes at risk to life. In the course of the Cast Lead Operation, synagogues were set up around Tze'elim for the soldiers' benefit. That was relatively small, now we understand that it could be bigger than that and we must prepare for every scenario."
"We are preparing for September, too," he said, but added: "We prepare for every scenario, not necessarily for next month. We always maintain readiness."
The IDF Rabbinate has long maintained that it has an educational role, because soldiers' motivation for defending Israel is increased by studying the Divine source for the Jewish rights to the land as well as rereading G-d's words of encouragement in the Bible to those fighting for the safety of the Jewish people and Israel. There are those who would like to see its role limited to halakhic functions, such as kosher kitchens and holiday preparation, but there is no denying that motivation is behind the large number of religious officers and volunteers for combat units in comparison to their proportion of the population.
A new Torah scroll was welcomed this week into the synagogue at the Ground Forces' main base, the Bar Lev camp near Kastina. The Ground Forces Commander, Maj.-Gen Sami Turjeman, was on hand, as were several other top officers, who took part in ceremonially inking in the last letters of the book. Also on hand was Rav Ya'akov Yisrael Ifergan, popularly known as "the X-Ray" for his mystical powers.
The book was donated by Noam and Simcha Magdisi, who dedicated it to the memory of a loved one. Also honored were the relatives of Chai-Ziv and Shani Krief, who served on the base and were killed in a road accident last month.