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Continuing to Study Torah is 'Part of the Battle'

23rd annual Bible seminars in Gush Etzion take on added meaning as part of 'spiritual battle' against Hamas.
By Yoni Kempinski and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/29/2014, 7:20 PM

This week saw the 23rd annual Yemei Iyun B'Tanach - a series of days dedicated to the in-depth study of the Tanach, or Bible, held in the Gush Etzion town of Alon Shvut.

The event is organized by the Herzog Academic Institute and hosted at the Har Etzion Yeshiva. Some 120 scholars lectured roughly 7,500 students of all ages who turned out during the summer vacation to delve into the ancient holy texts.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, one of Har Etzion's roshei yeshiva (deans), Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, explained how the unique event - which focuses solely on the Tanach as opposed to Talmudic and later scriptures - was particularly pertinent to the current crisis facing Israel.

"At any time of crisis, at any threat, we have to encourage and intensify our avodat Hashem [service of God] - which includes of course tefillah [prayer], which includes (learning) Torah, [and] going to battle for those who have to," he said, later noting that many of his own students were currently serving in Gaza.

But while all forms of "Torah study" are important, Rabbi Lichtenstein - whose "hesder" yeshiva combines Torah study and IDF military service - pointed out that only in the Bible was it possible to find lessons pertinent to an independent Jewish state. 

Rabbi Lichtestein noted that the "spiritual, moral, ethical (and) personal" dilemmas "which face us during these days of battle - the way to find them is to go back to the Tanach," before the exile of the Jewish people from its homeland took place.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who heads Petah Tikva's hesder yeshiva, said that by continuing to study Torah during difficult times the Jewish people were claiming the ultimate victory against their enemies.

"The fact that we're studying, the fact that were continuing... is part of the battle," he said.