We have received a very strong and lengthy letter from "a
shocked reader" in Bnei Brak taking exception to "Osher
Leaves Yeshiva." Since we felt it deserved a serious reply,
we asked a noted Torah educator, esteemed also in the Kiruv
field (kerovim as well as rechokim), to
include her comments in his rebuttal.
The gist of her letter, however: "I am fully aware that not
all boys can stay in yeshiva full time. I am not here to
judge or condemn, but for the Yated Neeman to
legitimize it? The pride, excitement... satisfaction Osher
feels at doing mitzvos in the Embassy and army are
totally against the Bnei Torah's way of looking at things...
Do you know how many teenage boys and girls read the
HOW KOSHER IS OSHER?
In the installment of her memoirs which appeared in the
Family section of the 24 Sivan issue, Mrs. Anni Rephun
Fruchter wrote about her brother Osher leaving the yeshiva
in which he studied and going to work in the Israeli
embassy, eventually ending up in the U.S. army.
This seems to have upset some people who misinterpreted the
publication of this story as Yated's endorsement of
joining the army with all its spiritual hazards in contrast
to the hallowed tradition of Jews in Europe going to all
lengths to avoid service in a gentile army. Others seem
concerned that mentioning the pride and excitement of Osher
doing mitzvos in the embassy and army might have a
negative impact on young readers by raising the idea of any
alternative to prolonged yeshiva study.
Let us do justice to both Yated and Osher by
clarifying some matters. Osher did not volunteer for
military service. He was drafted and there was no legal or
moral way to avoid his civic responsibility. Osher was not
drafted into the army of a Russian czar intent on
suppressing religious practice but, rather, into a framework
which enabled him to freely practice his religion and even
influence other Jews to follow suit. It would be an
injustice to people like Lieutenant Meir Birnbaum, whose
book and lectures about his military service are popular
fare in the Torah world, and many others of his generation
who were forced by circumstances to serve in the U.S. army,
to ignore the kiddush Hashem they made during the
But the more important issue is the one suggested by the
very title "Osher Leaves Yeshiva." It is hardly a secret
that there are many young people for whom full time learning
in a yeshiva beyond a certain point in their lives becomes
counterproductive because of their intellectual or emotional
inability to contend with the demands of yeshiva study. The
appalling growth of the `dropout' community in Eretz Yisroel
and everywhere else is the result of this situation.
There were dropouts in Osher's time as well, a good many of
them due to financial circumstances, but in an understanding
family they merely dropped out of yeshiva and not out of
Perhaps critics of Osher's decision should take note of what
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes at the conclusion of his
"One can be a completely righteous Jew -- if, because of his
need he is involved in simple labor -- just as if he never
Readers of Yated are sophisticated enough to
appreciate that the ideal for every Jew is unlimited Torah
study. But when there is an undeniable need for "Osher to
Leave Yeshiva," it is only self-defeating ostrich-necking in
the sand to make believe that no alternative exists.
Boruch Hashem that we have gedolim who are
sensitive to this and who have given their encouragement to
alternatives for the Oshers of our generation.