Orthodox-Jewish yeshiva students in Israel have been exempt from serving in the country’s military pretty much since the nation’s founding. Military service is mandatory for both the irreligious and the moderately devout; but ultra-Orthodox Jews claim that when their kids study the scriptures, they’re doing more important work for the country’s safety than those who serve as Hamas fodder.
“Let the other families sacrifice their children instead,” has been the thinking in these circles. “Ours are just too godly.”
As reported in USA Today,
The exemption, which involved only a few hundred top rabbinical students in 1949, has mushroomed into an exemption that has allowed 60,000 able-bodied men to forego military service each year.
Military service in Israel is serious business, requiring years of sacrifice.
Most Jews are drafted into the military at age 18, with men serving three years and then decades of yearly reserve duty, and women serving about two years, the Associated Press reports.
That the pious kids can just bury their noses in the Torah and call it good has long led to grumbling among the general population. Last year, the government sought to end the exemption, but the political and theological backbiting continues to this day.
According to an article in today’s Haaretz, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar says that it’s misguided and evil to support universal military in Israel. ‘Cause guess who’s behind such a draft? This guy:
The devil has prompted people “jealous of religious study” to become “confused,” the rabbi warned.
Torah study is thriving like it did in the past,” he said. “The devil, jealous at seeing this, put it into the minds of some people to fight against the Torah.”
The notion that all citizens should be treated equally by the state also doesn’t fly with the rabbi:
“This equality is the last thing we need.” … [Amar] called the effort to draft yeshiva students “madness” and asked God “to have mercy on us.”
Equality is good — but as always, some are more equal than others.
Meanwhile, the country’s biggest Orthodox sect, the Haredi (previous Moral Compass coverage here and here), is getting positively rabid in its opposition to a draft for the devout.
A new draft resisters’ guide tailored for haredi yeshiva students reportedly compares the draft of those haredi yeshiva students to the Holocaust and reminds them that, like in the Holocaust, sometimes suicide is preferable to complying with the decrees of an evil government.
The 32-page guide was printed under the auspices of a new haredi organization called Fortress – The Center for Protection from Draft Issues. Ynet reports that the guide explains possible ways to dodge the draft. …
The guide goes on to discuss the obligation for total sacrifice [suicide], giving several historical examples to prove its point. One of those examples is the story of 93 girls at a Bais Yaakov school in Krakow, Poland in 1942. All 93 of the girls committed suicide when they found out that Nazi soldiers were on their way to the school to rape them.
“We must learn from previous generations about the pride and intensity with which they gave their souls for the sanctification of God,” the guide says.
Such extremist language is matched at the highest theological levels. Last month, a hard-line Orthodox rabbi put the military draft of haredim in the category of ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor, a commandment that Jews must die rather than transgress:
Haredim being drafted into Israel’s military “means the uprooting of our religion” and Jews must be willing to be killed in order to prevent it from happening, a senior haredi leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach said.
The headline on that article reads: Army Service Means Eradication of Judaism.