Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Kislev 5766 - December 28, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
They Try to Make us Forget Your Torah

The issue of army service for yeshiva students has been in the news lately, as a case before the High Court that seeks to upset the Tal Law makes its way through the legal process. The public service of yeshiva bochurim was also discussed extensively at a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago, where suggestions were made to make army service "more attractive" to Torah scholars, as it were. In addition, various economic leaders present the importance of integrating the "chareidi community" with the work force of Israel from their own perspective.

Many of those who speak or write publicly about the issue professed to be concerned for our own welfare, worrying about our "lack of economic alternatives" and the subsequent "grinding poverty" in which chareidim are said to live. We are naturally suspicious when those who are known enemies profess concern for our welfare, but the truth is that many who genuinely mean well express similar concern about the economic future of the chareidi community. Even various private chareidi-oriented publications present expressions of concern about the difficulties of those who study in kollel and their families, and offer their own suggestions.

The common thread is the recommendation to seek economic security or even comfort, at the expense of Torah study. Worried about a "social time bomb" or "economic disaster" that is, according to their calculations, inevitable if things continue along the trend lines that have been established, they opine that fewer people should learn full time and more should work.

We say that this echoes the threat we faced in the time of Mattisyohu: to make us forget the Torah. In our spiritually impoverished days, we need all the learning that anyone is willing to do.

Our gedolim have provided us the appropriate guidance. HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d wrote some seventy years ago: "In previous generations the apikorsim said, `Of what good are the rabbonim to us? They learn [only] for themselves.' [In those days] they acknowledged the pleasure and spiritual benefit gained from learning Torah. The kofrim of our days say that those who learn Torah [do nothing more than] bring destruction upon themselves and upon the entire Jewish people." (From Kovetz Ma'amorim, "HoRo'im")

HaRav Elchonon also wrote, "It is important to know and understand that the agents of the Soton assume different guises. Some of them choose to kill the Torah using the worst of the 999 types of death that sufferers of askeroh experience. Others find it more appropriate for their goals to kill them with a missas neshikoh. But both aspire to the same goal. They differ only in their tactics." (From "Omar Ani Ma'asai LaMelech")

Speaking in almost the same style was HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, zt"l: "The Roshei Yeshiva and the Vaad Hayeshivos will stand as an impregnable wall against any attempt to include bnei hayeshivos in any way in the army. The government knows this and millions of Jews all over the world support this. Therefore they will not take drastic steps to draft bnei yeshivos but they will prefer to choose a pleasant death for the yeshivas — a missas neshikoh. They are liable to propose a great concession, that if they are willing to be drafted at the age of 23 they will have to undergo only a short period of training, maybe five months, and this would not be obligatory but out of their good will . . . Maybe someone thinks that with this gesture the bnei yeshivos will choose army service, but let us declare publicly that any concession and any pressure will miss their mark, because, as we said, this is a missas neshikoh. . . . We will not argue about this nor agree to any compromise. Anything set against the existence of the yeshivos will not succeed: neither the bludgeoning club nor the staff of persuasion."

This is a lesson that has retained its relevance and importance and will continue to do so ad bi'as Goel and even thereafter: for the relationship between Am Yisroel and Torah and Hakodosh Boruch Hu will never change.

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