Monday, May 30, 2005

On Religious Vs. Military Authority

Rabbi Gisser, the rabbi of Ofra published a bizarre article in Ha'aretz. What is bizarre about the article contains no reference to any Torah source. Instead of Torah, the reader receives the following:
Lying in the background of the religious debate over authority of the army is a much more substantial principle. Does the state even have the authority to determine its borders? Are diplomatic considerations - by their nature secular considerations - worthy of being a basis for decisions that are at odds with the Torah's positions on the issue of the Land of Israel?

...The State of Israel and its government have the authority to determine its borders and the geographical extent of its control. From where does it derive this authority? We granted it. The historic religious-secular Zionist alliance granted authority to the authorized governing mechanisms to administer the people residing in Zion in accordance with policy considerations...
With all due respect to the rabbi, I beg to disagree. Rabbi Gisser admits that the actions of the State "are at odds with the Torah's positions on the issue of the Land of Israel." In such a situation, every G-d fearing Jew knows that he must follow the Torah. No "historic religious-secular Zionist alliance" can uproot even one word of the Torah. What's more, it is well known that this alliance was built on the foundation that religious Jews will not have to do anything that is in opposition to Halacha. This is why the army kitchens are kosher(at least in theory) and that the army does not conduct exercises on Shabbat. A true, believing Jew will not take part in any activity that contradicts the Torah, period.

That's just my humble opinion.


rockofgalilee said...

From what I understand, the army kitchens are mostly mehadrin. I heard about this from someone who didn't eat army food until he had to do kitchen duty and saw what food they were actually using.

On your second point, and in disagreement with the rabbi, any country has the diplomatic right to determine their borders. The state of Israel does not follow the Torah and this is mostly acceptable to the national religious public. If you don't insist that they keep all the Torah,how can you point at one piece and say, this one you have to keep.
Using the Torah as a protest point in disengagement will obviously not work. It's like arguing with a religious Jew and declaring but the new testament says so. If they don't value the torah then the torah argument is meaningless to them. If you allow them to not value the Torah, then your argument to them must be from a different perspective. The correct argument against the disengagement would be from the moral, logical and safety factor, which they do value, not from a Torah perspective, which they do not.

Cosmic X said...


I served many years in the reserves. The general rule was that the bigger bases had fairly organized kitichens while at the smaller ones "balagan" prevailed. Perhaps some day I'll write a post about some of the kashrut problems that I saw.

If you are correct and the religious public accepts that the State does not follow Torah, then we are in big trouble. I would rather say that it is a problem that we live with. We should be aware and distressed every day that Jewish children are being brought up without knowing what "Shema Yisrael" is, that the Sabbath is being desecrated, etc.

I do not know if you read Rabbi Gisser's article, but he was basically coming out against refusing orders (while at the same time requesting from the government not to give orders that are forbidden). I'm saying that "divrei harav, vedivrei hatalmid, divrei mishom'in?". While Rabbi Gisser says that "The refusal to follow orders is not legitimate," I say that it is legitimate when the orders are against the Torah. Not only that, but a G-d fearing Jew is required to refuse in such a case.

"The correct argument against the disengagement would be from the moral, logical and safety factor, which they do value, not from a Torah perspective, which they do not."

Perhaps. In the meantime the Israeli MSM together with the government is preventing any real debate on the issue.

rockofgalilee said...

I don't see that the majority of the national religious public is in favor of a completely religious government. The comments I have received from national religious people is more along the lines of "you want to be like Iran or the Taliban?"

The answer to that question is obviously "yes" with a main difference being that we would follow Judaism and not islam. I was happy when the Taliban destroyed the big idols, I heard a lot of religious people saying they should respect historical items.

I would be very interested in your kashrut on the base post. In any case, from what I understand religious soldiers violate Torah commandments all the time in order to protect the state. This includes shmira on shabbos. The only way that the rabonim can accept this is if they see the obligation to protect Israel as a Torah obligation encumbent on all of us. They certainly didn't say it was allowed when Jews were conscripted into the Russian army to help protect the motherland.

Cosmic X said...


As you know, the press here regulary compares rabbis with Khomeini and settlers with Hamas. How unfortunate is that G-d fearing people are also influenced by this trash!

Doing shmirah on Shabbat is not a violation of the Torah, G-d forbid. The Torah itself tells us to violate the Shabbat in such a case. A religious soldier must make sure that if he is asked to violate Shabbat it is for a legitimate security need. Is that the subject for another post,"Keeping Shabbat in the Army"?

rockofgalilee said...

What about if you joined the US Army. Would you agree that there is no problem with shabbos observance? What if it is for a legitimate security need?

Cosmic X said...

Good question Rock.

I think Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 329 and what the Mishnah Brerura says there may be relevant. (I don't have the books near me right now). I think that the Chafetz Chaim also wrote a book ("Nidchei Yisrael"?) outlining how a Jew should behave in such an army.

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