Michael Boyden

No more army. No more work!

Rabbi Dov Lando is the Head of the Slabodka yeshiva in Bnei Brak and a member of the directorate of the Board of Yeshivas. His opinions, therefore, should be taken seriously.

Following the Supreme Court ruling that there was no longer any legal basis to exempt yeshivah and kollel students from national service, Rabbi Lando is reported as having stated that “the holy yeshivot and kollelim in which the Torah is studied constantly and without interruption … protect all Jews in the land of Israel from their troubles. The more people there are studying Torah in yeshivot and kollelim, the more protection there will be for everyone living in Israel and, G-d forbid, also the reverse.”

No one is suggesting that Torah study isn’t important and desirable. However, the only logical conclusion to be drawn from his remarks is that the awful events of October 7 could only have taken place because there were not enough Torah students, and not because of any failure on the part of the prime minister, the government, the defence forces and the intelligence community.

One could go even further and suggest that, were all of our armed forces to discharge themselves and, indeed, the entire population leave their jobs and spend their entire lives studying Torah, everyone in Israel would be much safer.

When the Children of Israel stood on the banks of the Red Sea and saw the Egyptians pursuing them, they turned to G-d and Moses for help. Moses, like Rabbi Dov Lando, turned to the people and said: “Don’t be afraid. Stand by and witness the deliverance that the Lord will work for you today.”

By contrast, G-d said to Moses: “Why do you cry out to Me? Tell the Children of Israel to get moving!” The Midrash recounts that the waters only parted when Nachshon jumped in and they reached his neck.

Judaism does not teach us to leave it all to Heaven. What is more, if everyone listened to Rabbi Lando and joined the yeshivot and kollelim to study Torah, not only would we have no army, but who exactly would pay the taxes upon which, as Rabbi Lando knows only too well as a member of the directorate of the Board of Yeshivas, all of his institutions are financially dependent for their very existence?

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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