Army is a Combination of Sacred and Profane

Though the army is engaged in the holy work of protecting the People and the Land, it has now also become a partner in the sin of expelling Jews from their homes. Rabbi Zalman Melamed explains.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 16:02

Though Rabbi Chaim Druckman - head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivot movement in Israel - said today that it is a religious obligation to serve in the army that protects Jews in the Land of Israel, Rabbi Melamed says that the picture is more complex.

Rabbi Melamed is the head of Yeshivat Beit El and serves as one of Beit El's two chief rabbis. "The IDF's participation in the expulsion plan requires us to change our attitude towards the army," Rabbi Melamed writes this week in the B'Sheva newspaper. "Until now, its entire function was to protect the Nation and the Land, and this function was the fulfillment of a Biblical commandment. But its participation in the expulsion plan has turned it into the executor of anti-Torah government decisions. The army is no longer only holiness, but rather has a combination of mitzvah (good deeds) and sin."

"There is now less motivation among religious youth to enlist in the army. I hear of people who refuse to go to reserve duty now, because they can't serve in an army that carried out this injustice. I heard that people are ashamed to wear an IDF uniform, lest it be thought that they took part in the expulsion of Jews.

"The ambition and goal of enlisting in, contributing to, and changing the army, has not proven itself. More than the religious officers changed the army, the army changed them.

"With the educational system, when we realized that we could not change it from within, we changed it from without. When it became clear that we could not improve the public-religious high schools, the yeshiva high schools were established... and then came the Noam and Tzviyah schools, and the Talmudei Torah, and this helped strengthen the entire religious education system. We must do the same with other systems and frameworks in the country. Wherever it's hard to change from within, we must change from without, in order to change both.

"If we see that within the army we can't change from within, we must divert our strengths to other frameworks which have an equally strong influence on the country. We must bolster the religious media/newspapers/internet, and attract the religious public to be consumers of the religious media. In this way, we will be able to change the general media.

"We must also be active in business, for as is known, 'money talks.' In this area, we can maintain our spirit better than via the government networks...

"We must build an independent judicial framework for monetary affairs, as well as for arbitration, and make sure that they operate with high standards, such that many will want to use them instead of to the regular courts.

"In short, we can act independently in education, media, courts and economic, and thus have an influence on the entire country. We do not want to disengage from the country - we don't want to, nor can we; we are one people. But we are choosing a faster way to uplift the country to its true destiny: to be the State of the Jewish Nation, flying the banner of faith and Torah."