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Tuesday
Nov142017

SHLICHUS: THE ORDER OF THE DAY

The soldiers know that the Chabadnikim are a different kind of religious Jews: While they don’t separate themselves from the not-yet-frum, they are more pious than the other chareidim.

The inevitable circumstances of life in Eretz Yisroel often compel Chassidishe young men to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces and become a part of the nation’s fighting strength. The atmosphere in the army is highly inappropriate for a Chassidic avreich, and especially for a yeshiva bachur. While Chabad chassidim do come to IDF bases to bring holiday joy and conduct outreach activities with the soldiers, being there on a more permanent basis is most unsuitable for the Chassidic lifestyle of a typical Torah scholar or rabbinical student learning concepts of Chassidus, Gemara, and Shulchan Aruch.

However, as mentioned previously, events frequently bring these avreichim into military service. Thus, since a Chabad chassid understands that everything happens according to Divine Providence, he must find the shlichus for which Heaven sent him to correct, improve, and uplift Jews, bringing them closer to Chassidus. We’re often talking about young men who if it weren’t for their joint military service, they would never have been exposed to the messages contained in the teachings of our Rebbeim.

SHLICHUS OF “B’DI’EVED” MADE INTO “L’CHATCHILA”

“While this is a shlichus of ‘b’di’eved,’ it must be carried out in a manner of ‘l’chat’chilla,’ one of our interviewees told us, “and when we go out as the Rebbe’s shluchim, we see success.”

And how is a Chabad chassid accepted among his fellow soldiers?

“They show me great respect and try to help. My comrades in arms appreciate the fact that despite the difficulties - I’m already the father of five children, I still come to discharge my army reserve duties together with them. When someone leaves the base for a few hours, he always comes back with strictly kosher food items for me. If one of the soldiers has a question in Yiddishkait, he knows where to get the answer. We are also in contact with one another outside the army. When I told them about my regular shlichus in Chadera, they immediately realized that my whole existence in the unit was also a form of shlichus,” said Rabbi Shneur Zalman Blinitzky, one of the Rebbe’s shluchim in Chadera and an IDF reserve soldier in a combat battalion.

The other Chabad chassid interviewed for this article is Rabbi Chaim Rivkin, shliach in Rishon L’Tziyon’s “Abramovitch” neighborhood and former member of the Golani Brigade. When he completed his compulsory service and was assigned to reserve duty, he asked if he could join a unit consisting of soldiers who were externally far from Torah observance.

Rabbi Blinitzky and Rabbi Rivkin represent a small nucleus of Chabad soldiers serving in combat units while working as the Rebbe’s shluchim. It turns out that their shlichus is not just limited to their local neighborhood; it comes with them on their reserve duty.

How did you come to serve on the battlefront? Most Chabad chassidim drafted into the IDF after getting married join home front units or those belonging to the army rabbinate?

Chaim Rivkin enlisted for military service at age eighteen with the Golani Brigade. While he was not actually a Chabad chassid back in those days, having received his education in religious Zionist institutions, he does have Chabad roots and a Chabad fire has always burned within him.

“It was specifically during my military service when I began to become a proper Chabad chassid, keeping strictly kosher, going to the mikveh, using an eruv, etc. Instead of letting the other religious soldiers get approval for halachic leniencies from their rabbanim, I would make certain that my accustomed level of Chabad ‘frumkait’ would have the proper effect upon my comrades.”

R’ Shneur Blinitzky was born and raised in Kfar Chabad, and he too joined the Golani Brigade. “I didn’t necessarily understand where I was enlisting and the kind of difficulties this would entail,” he recalled. “Yet, it was specifically my military service that refined the Chabad values I had been raised and educated to respect. The mental and physical difficulties were quite great, especially during the months of basic training.”

MIRACLES ON THE FRONT

Tell us about your compulsory service on the battlefront. Did you experience your own miracles and cases of Divine Providence?

According to Rabbi Blinitzky, there were many miracles that he experienced personally and together with the other soldiers in his company, particularly during the period when they were in south Lebanon, prior to the “retreat,” as he calls it. “During the last eight months before the retreat from Lebanon, we manned the outpost at Moshav Reichan, located about twenty-three kilometers from the border. These months were unbearable. We literally felt like ducks in a shooting gallery. The Hezbollah kept us at close range, while any military response on our part required the expressed authorization of the prime minister. To this day, whenever I hear an iron door slam, I tense.

“Leaving our sleeping quarters to go to the kitchen, and from there to the latrine, placed our lives in actual danger. Mortars were constantly falling in our vicinity, and you can just imagine how many miracles we experienced. We would always go from room to room one at a time, soldier after soldier, not as a group, in order that if someone got hurt, it would only be one, not many. During one such race, there were three of us. The first and second soldier passed, and I was the third. Suddenly, one of the soldiers cried out in pain, and we realized that he had been seriously wounded. We saw the terrorists watching us, but there was nothing we could do about it.

“Outpost life before the evacuation was excruciating. Once when we were on duty, we noticed a group of terrorists approaching. We called for a battle tank to destroy them, but our request was denied. We received orders to return to the outpost ‘under fire’ and with ‘our lives in danger’… Only a miracle got us out of there without injury.”

Rabbi Blinitzky also tells about another kind of miracle that he experienced in his reserve duty during Operation Defensive Shield. “We arrived with a helicopter at a landing field in Gush Etzion, near Beit Lechem. From there, we had to move by foot to our designated target, a building occupied by the Hamas terror organization. The plan was to enter the site by force in the early morning hours. As we made our way to the location, our unit commander ordered me to ‘hit the dirt.’ I was his signal operator, and I immediately fell to the ground, followed by all the other soldiers. It turns out that he had looked through his binoculars and had seen armed figures walking at a considerable distance. The unit’s sharpshooters set their aim upon the target and waited for orders from the brigade commander to fire. However, our company commander was extremely cautious and asked to receive approval from the regional headquarters. It was only then that we learned that this was a unit of IDF security forces that had lost its way.”

I CAME FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING A CHANGE!

You are shluchim in your daily lives, as you seek to have a positive influence upon people and bring them closer to the path of Torah and mitzvos. How is this done as part of your military service?

According to Rabbi Chaim Rivkin, there are many examples, and he gives us one from the days when he was a soldier in compulsory service. “During my tour of duty, we were stationed for operational service at the Har Dov outpost. I quickly noticed that unlike standard army installations, it had no eruv - and I asked them to have one erected. The relevant authorities rejected my request, claiming that those involved in the fulfillment of the mitzvah of protecting the Land of Israel are exempt from all other mitzvos. Furthermore, they said that there was no time to get involved with building an eruv at a front-line outpost. In response, I claimed that when the generals come to the outpost for a visit, the soldiers are recruited to spend hours painting rocks and cleaning rooms – yet it’s impossible to take the time to erect an eruv?

“I decided that I would take this undertaking upon my shoulders. At the first available opportunity, instead of taking a rest, I encircled the entire outpost with a string. The main problem was placing the string above the gate through which the heavy military vehicles with tall antennas would have to pass. Every time one of these vehicles came through, the antenna would tear the eruv and I had to tie it again. On one occasion, the boys from the logistics corps arrived at the base to make necessary repairs to the Gaza security barrier, and I asked them to weld the eruv string tightly in place. They agreed to do so, and the next time that a heavy army vehicle passed through the gate, its antenna broke.

“The relevant officials started an investigation to determine who had secured these strings. When they realized that the logistics corps was involved, they made no further inquiries and reached the conclusion that the installation of these strings had apparently been ordered by a much higher authority. Instead of taking them down, they brought tractors to dig deep enough into the ground to enable the army vehicles to pass through the gate without difficulty…”

Upon his release from compulsory service, Rabbi Rivkin was assigned to reserve duty. He had to choose which unit to join. “The commanding officer thought that I would want to join a company of yeshiva students, however, he was surprised to hear that I wanted to join a unit of kibbutznikim and other guys who are outwardly distant from Torah and mitzvos. ‘What happened, Rivkin? Have you gone secular?’ he asked. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘They still have to do t’shuva.’ The truth is that it wasn’t easy at first. No minyanim for davening, inadequate kosher food, hearing talk unsuitable for a chassid. Nevertheless, I felt that I was on shlichus.”

Rabbi Rivkin came for the purpose of making a change, and that he did. Today, the unit he chose appears totally different. “The first activity I did with this group was a Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen. When I learned that I would be spending that day at an outpost somewhere near Ramallah, without a farbrengen and without my Chassidic friends, I was very distraught and even obtained a pass to travel to Kfar Chabad. My commanding officer belonged to the religious Zionist community and understood the need for me to go to the Kfar. While I was en route, I realized that I had made a mistake. ‘I’m on shlichus,’ I thought to myself, and I immediately bought a bottle of ‘mashke’ and went back to farbreng with the soldiers…

“During the farbrengen, the deputy commander came in. While he didn’t like the idea of the soldiers consuming alcoholic beverages, he sat down and joined us. After his military service, this young man traveled a great deal in the Far and Near East, and developed a connection with the Chabad Houses throughout the region. Then, at a farbrengen, he spoke with great enthusiasm to kibbutznikim about the activities of the Rebbe’s shluchim on behalf of the Jewish People.

“A few days later, I came to the outpost for Chanukah with my wife and children, equipped with a menorah and jelly donuts, and we made a communal menorah lighting. Until then, there were people there who had thought that I was totally ‘abnormal,’ but the Chanukah lighting seemed to break the ice. When I made a minyan the following Shabbos, I asked them to come and join the service. In fact, many soldiers did come who had never seen a siddur before in their lives.”

THE TANYA PRINTING THAT STUNNED THE COMMANDER

During another reserve duty assignment at an outpost near the settlement of Nachliel, Rabbi Rivkin made certain to arrange for the printing of a Tanya, a printing that saved the outpost from evacuation. “They had decided that we had to evacuate the outpost due to political considerations. Nearby was a well of water where I would immerse myself each morning. I called Rabbi Efraim Ezer in charge of Tanya printings and asked him to arrange for a printing at the nearby hill. After he obtained the necessary funds from Rabbi Leibel Zeiantz, the residents of Nachliel and other neighboring settlements were invited to the event. The outpost commander didn’t like the idea, as this compelled him to provide security to those citizens in attendance, an obligation he preferred not to carry out.”

At one point, the commander was informed that the person organizing the ceremony was someone named Chaim Rivkin. “His curiosity aroused, the commander approached me and asked whether I had a relative in one of the adjacent yishuvim whose name was the same as mine. He was stunned to discover that I was the organizer. ‘Are you mad?’ he hollered. ‘You’re a soldier now, not a settler!’ ‘I may be a soldier,’ I replied, ‘but a soldier carries out all his orders, and this Tanya printing is something very important.’ Tanyas were printed that day in two locations – Yad Yair and Choresh Yaron. Each of the soldiers at the outpost was privileged to receive a copy of the Tanya.”

Rabbi Rivkin then shared another unusual anecdote with us:

“A few months before the Gush Katif expulsion, we were called up for reserve duty at an outpost near Kibbutz Sufa in the south. When a Chabadnik davens, he davens. However, between shifts on guard duty, I don’t always have the time to daven as custom requires. There were times when I would stand at my sentry post wearing t’fillin, but this angered my commanding officer. I claimed that the t’fillin help me in my guard duty, but he just laughed and said that all I need is my rifle. Finally, we agreed that he would ask the Arabs who passed the barricade. When he asked them, he got an amazing response. ‘Are you stupid? We don’t mess with him,’ they told him, as they pointed at me… The CO was surprised to hear this, and he’s been less confrontational on this matter ever since.”

Rabbi Rivkin tells with much emotion how he established the first synagogue at Kibbutz Erez, near the Gaza Strip. “During the last operation in Gaza, they sent us to Kibbutz Erez shortly before Shabbos. I realized that we would be staying there for the holy day of rest, but I wasn’t willing to accept being without a minyan or a Seifer Torah. I immediately called my friend, Rabbi Yisroel Bokovza, from Chabad Mobile Centers. Once I obtained all the necessary permits, he arrived with the mitzvah tank to spend Shabbos near us. When the Seifer Torah came from the Chabad House in Sderot, we quickly announced to the entire region that a synagogue had opened on the premises.

“We thought that after such effort, we would somehow be able to make a minyan. Then, something quite amazing happened. On Friday night, IDF forces entered Gaza, and hundreds of Nachal fighters passed our way before the operation commenced and joined us for the evening prayers. This was a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. Soldiers raised on kibbutzim, new immigrants - everyone davened together with great fervor. It was a Kabbalas Shabbos that I will never forget.”

DISCUSSIONS ON EMUNA AND YIDDISHKAIT

Rabbi Blinitzky also spoke about the many discussions he has had with other soldiers on faith in G-d and Judaism. He says that while his compulsory service was more complex and difficult, his reserve duty is pure ‘mivtzaim’ in every sense of the word. He has plenty of stories: “If you want to have an influence upon others, you have to be connected to them. The soldiers know that when I’m in the middle of learning Chitas and Rambam, I am not to be bothered. However, during my free time, I speak with them, listen to them, and maintain that connection. I remember the first conversation I had on guard duty with a soldier who called himself an ‘atheist.’ I wouldn’t relent and kept pelting him benevolently with expressions of faith. We eventually became very good friends. It seems that he no longer holds his former atheistic views. At a certain stage, he was a little angry with me because it appeared that I had destroyed the outlook he had adopted over a period of many years.

“On another occasion, I was privileged to make a ‘bar-mitzvah’ with two soldiers, removing from them the mark of ‘karkafta’ by putting t’fillin on them for the first time in their lives. Without my military service, who knows if these guys ever would have put on t’fillin? One of them, a resident in a settlement in the Sharon region, was raised in a home totally detached from religious observance. When I spoke with him about putting on t’fillin, he tried to shock me by saying how distant he was from the path of Torah. ‘I eat treif meat and other nonkosher foods. Are you sure that G-d wants me to put on t’fillin?’ he challenged me. Yet, I remained determined.

“Once when we were in the south sitting in a secure room, I used the opportunity to ask him, ‘Would you like to put on t’fillin?’ He agreed, and within a few minutes, he put the t’fillin on and recited the ‘Shma.’ When I thought about getting a release from further reserve duty, this soldier pleaded with me to stay and we’ve been close friends ever since.

“The second soldier was a ‘tinok sh’nishba’, a totally secular Jew born and raised on a settlement in the Arava. It didn’t even have a synagogue and his parents did not consider it important for him to put on t’fillin. Once we were going through training at the Tze’elim base in the Negev - in the middle of the desert with pup tents and sleeping bags. During a break in the training, I started doing T’fillin Campaign activities. When I came up to this soldier, he told me that he doesn’t know how to put on t’fillin since he had never done it before. ‘Let me help you and you’ll earn a mitzvah,’ I told him, and he agreed. I put the t’fillin on him and he recited the ‘Shma’ with great fervor for the first time in his life. Afterwards, I thought to myself: Who knows what G-dly sparks had been elevated through this young man in the middle of the burning desert?”

EVERY DIFFICULTY IS A CHALLENGE

While you both speak about your blessed activities, I am certain that there are also some difficulties. What are those difficulties that tend to cause problems during your service?

Rabbi Rivkin said that he hadn’t encountered any unique difficulties. “When you go with the strength of the Rebbe, every difficulty becomes a challenge. However, when there was a difficulty, it came because the commanders in charge didn’t always understand the Chabad way of life. I remember at a Pesach seder held at the IDF Northern Command, one of those who came to participate was its highest ranking officer, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, later IDF chief of general staff. I had taught the soldiers in my unit to sing ‘Yiddilach shreit, Ad Mosai?’ and they all began to sing it at the Seder table – with a Yiddish inflection. One of the rabbanim for the Northern Command was there, and he asked the commanders if they knew what the soldiers were singing. When they replied that they didn’t, he told them that the soldiers were singing about the length of the exile and asking ‘How much longer?’ After the CO’s made an inquiry and realized that I had taught them the song, they took disciplinary action and confined me to my quarters. That Pesach was especially hard for me; I hardly ate anything. The rav who had been at the Seder took pity on me and made certain that the confinement was rescinded. I went home immediately.”

While Rabbi Blinitzky also tells about the many difficulties, he notes that they can be easily overcome, complimenting the military command for its genuine desire to help. “I remember when I would serve on Shabbos in Netzarim. As a Chabad soldier, despite the rabbinate permitting the violation of Shabbos laws for operational needs, you try to keep this to an absolute minimum. However, you also don’t want your own stringencies to cause other soldiers to make a chillul Shabbos. Therefore, before the onset of the holy day of rest, I would invest considerable effort in determining precisely where and when it will be necessary to violate the Shabbos. For example, when I had to leave the base to go on guard duty, instead of traveling there by jeep, I preferred to go earlier and walk to my post. I told my commanding officers about this in advance to prevent their making any unnecessary arrangements.

“In times of war, the big problem is finding time to put on t’fillin and daven. During the last military operation in Gaza, we were one of only two reserve battalions to enter the region. Before leaving, I called Rabbi Mordechai Shmuel Ashkenazi, of blessed memory, and asked him about putting on t’fillin and other questions in order to know what to do. While other religious soldiers asked their rabbanim and were exempted from all other mitzvos when they were involved in the mitzvah of saving lives, I stringently put on t’fillin every day and said ‘Shma Yisroel,’ doing the rest of davening later in the day when I had a moment. The soldiers know that Chabadnikim are a different kind of religious Jews: While they don’t separate themselves from the non-frum, they are more pious than the other observant, and this absolutely has a greater influence.”

During Operation Defense Shield, it was far more difficult, as the operation took place during the height of the Pesach holiday, when a Chabad chassid is far more stringent. “There were days when I was literally starving. From morning until evening, I ate only matzos. The religious soldiers around me said that this was a matter of pikuach nefesh, but I wouldn’t hear of it. Even on Tisha B’Av last year, during training at Tze’elim in the Negev desert, there were religious soldiers who ate. However, I stubbornly both trained and fasted. Yes, it was very hard and I came back exhausted, but I never considered for a moment putting any food in my mouth on Tisha B’Av.”

Rabbi Blinitzky recalled a different kind of difficulty he had during Operation ‘Cast Lead.’ “They called me up a few days before my sister’s wedding and I didn’t know if I would be able to be there. On the day of the wedding, the commanders asked us to give them all our cell phones and then informed us that we would be going into the Gaza Strip that night. Before I gave them my cell phone, I called my sister, wished her ‘Mazel tov’ and a happy life, and said that I was sorry that I wouldn’t be able to attend. At eight o’clock that evening, as we arrived at the point of our entry into Gaza, my commanding officer approached me and ordered that I board an army vehicle and ‘go to the wedding.’

“My furlough would only be until the scheduled move into Gaza. I went to the wedding wearing my army uniform, flak jacket, and helmet, with my face covered in camouflage paint… It was a very surreal picture. One minute I was in the middle of a military briefing before our incursion into Gaza, and now I was dancing at a Chassidic wedding in Kfar Chabad. When I came back to the entry zone the following day, I was already heading into battle with the other fighting forces.”

STANDING FIRM ON SHLICHUS

What is the secret to success in a spirit of Lubavitch that can meet the approval of your fellow soldiers while making no compromises on your principles?

R’ Chaim Rivkin explains that there are no great secrets. Since every Chabad bachur was educated in this manner, a shliach would surely respond to this question that the secret to his success is a mixture of Chabad education and the inner realization of what it means to go out on the Rebbe’s shlichus. “Here’s an interesting anecdote: When we were on our last mission in Gaza, they sent me out on patrol for eight hours with a security officer at Netiv HaAsara. As soon as we set out on our journey, this young man began to tell me that he contacts spirits and receives messages from them.

“Since I had to travel with him for eight hours, I didn’t want to start our mission with an argument, so I just listened. As the time passed, he began to offer more and more details about me. He told me that I have four children, and later he said that he had received a spiritual message that my eldest daughter was named Chana. He then continued to tell me that he envisioned me on a large crane with a fiery torch in my hand, asking me what I had been doing recently on a crane. I quickly became curious, as I had previously built a large Chanukah menorah in Rishon L’Tziyon. I figured that this was what he meant, although I still didn’t believe him. I simply thought that he had done a Google search, came across our website, and found there relevant information about me and my family.

“After another few hours, this young man says to me, ‘I see you falling into a pit of water, emerging, and getting dressed each morning. This is not a mikveh; it’s a pit.’ Now I really was intrigued. This was something that hadn’t been posted on any Chabad House website. As I noted earlier, the truth was that once when I was on reserve duty, there was a pit of water where I would immerse myself. ‘Do you put on t’fillin?’ I asked him. He replied that he did once, but he hasn’t since. ‘If you have such powers and you don’t use them for holy matters to help the Jewish people, it isn’t worth anything,’ I told him. I tried to convince him to put on t’fillin.

“‘Do you want to know your future?’ he asked me. ‘Listen,’ I told him, ‘your knowledge about me makes no difference. We have a Rebbe and he tells us about the future to come - the coming of the Redemption. For this to happen, you must put on t’fillin.’ Towards the end of the patrol, the man let out a huge laugh. He then told me that he was neither a prophet nor an astrologer. His friends in his army unit told him: ‘If you don’t want Rivkin to drive you crazy about Torah and mitzvos, play a trick on him’ - and they supplied him with all the information he had told me. It was very amusing, and we laughed together - although I continued to insist that he put on t’fillin…

“I’ll never forget that sight. We stood facing Gaza at dawn. ‘Look,’ he said to me, ‘if despite everything you’ve heard from me you remain faithful to the Rebbe and your shlichus, you apparently are made from material not of this world.’ He gladly agreed to put on t’fillin, and then he pulled out his checkbook and made a generous donation to the Chabad House in Rishon L’Tziyon.

“And this is the answer to your question - ‘What is the secret to success?’ Be firm on your shlichus and let nothing affect you. People connect to someone who stands on his principles.”

Rabbi Blinitzky identifies with what Rabbi Rivkin says, adding that above all you have to be a good soldier. “Our battalion is an elite unit that has been honored with numerous marks of excellence. I personally have been privileged to receive two decorations for outstanding service on reserve duty. The first came when I went out for an operation on the Egyptian border, and during my reconnaissance, I identified an ISIS unit in Sinai. I gave the information to the relevant officials and the army dealt with the matter in the appropriate fashion. My second commendation was from another operation along the Egyptian border, the details of which cannot be discussed here. When your friends in the battalion see that you’re a serious guy, you become the proper address on a variety of issues.

“Despite the difficulties, I always try to carry out my obligations and do everything in the best way possible. When I was on reserve duty with the Rebbe’s brachos, a great responsibility rested on my shoulders.

“By the time we already had four children and my wife was having a very hard time with my regular absences from home during the year, I wrote to the Rebbe and asked for a release from the burdens of reserve duty. The Rebbe’s reply was that I should continue on my shlichus, and it would serve an important purpose in both the short and the long run, and in both general and specific inyanim. Since I received this answer, I make greater efforts towards organizing minyanim, T’fillin Campaign activities, and Shabbos meals, where we review points from the Rebbe’s sichos.”

THE ABILITY TO HAVE AN INFLUENCE

Do you have anything to say in conclusion?

Rabbi Rivkin speaks about the ability to influence. “While my battalion has a few religious members, it’s a very educated and accomplished bunch. We have teachers, project directors, very resolute and assertive people. We often have discussions on faith and religion, and the guys always know how to quote from the various Zionist spiritual leaders. I always came for military service equipped with my Chitas and Rambam, and I would quote points to them from the Rebbe’s sichos. During my tour of duty, when an ideological argument ensued, our commanding officer said to them, ‘Look at this young man,’ referring to me. ‘He goes with his faith in his hand, carrying it wherever he goes, while you quote from people whose s’farim you don’t even have.’

“On another occasion, several of the fellows were sitting together, and since there was a relaxed atmosphere, they spoke in a most inappropriate manner. One of the soldiers rebuked them: ‘Look at yourselves; you were educated in Israel. Would you dare to speak this way in front of your students? You’re outside a position of influence for one minute and look at how you behave. Chaim Rivkin is far from the place of his shlichus, and yet he always acts accordingly. This is a sign that the truth is with him.’ I realized then even more how much a chassid must be a living example, and this is something that we have to internalize. If you want to have an influence, be a light of illumination. A shliach is a shliach wherever he is.”

Rabbi blinitzky says that the fact that he does army duty helps him greatly in his civilian shlichus in chadera. Quite often, when people tell him to go into the army, he makes it clear to them that they haven’t necessarily served in as significant a role as he has. Nevertheless, he says that the army is not the place for a chabad chassid, for the wellsprings of chassidus can also be spread in other ways. “i have had many arguments on this matter, particularly with religious zionist soldiers who see the state and its institutions as a holy treasure. In my estimation, people are starting to understand their great mistake and how much the rebbe, melech hamoshiach, is right about everything, down to the very last detail.”

A BACHUR’S PLACE IS IN YESHIVA

Do yeshiva students have to be inducted into the army? There have occasionally been some very stormy discussions in Eretz Yisroel on the question of whether yeshiva students must enlist in the Israel Defense Forces and serve like other young men of their age group. The opinions are quite varied:

We now present the Rebbe’s holy opinion in this matter, which constantly seems relevant and current as expressed in one of his letters in Igros Kodesh:

In response to his letter, asking whether a yeshiva student in Eretz HaKodesh, may it be rebuilt and re-established, is obligated to enlist in the army there, I am amazed by his doubt to the point that he had to ask from afar, and there is known and also publicized the clear halachic ruling of rabbinical authorities.

And naturally, it is based upon our Torah, the Torah of Life, that yeshiva students are not to be drafted and should not go into the army. Furthermore, their study of our Holy Torah with assiduousness and diligence protects and saves our Holy Land, may it be rebuilt and re-established, and those who dwell upon it.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. 20, pg. 317)

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