David Suissa said that the Charedim are portraying a Chilul Hashem and should serve in the army. I disagree with his opinion. The Charedim are not targeting to hurt anyone, especially the mothers who have their sons in the IDF. As a Modern Orthodox Jew, I do believe that Israel needs a balance of fighting and spirituality. It is just like anyone needs a balance of Torah and work in his or her life. Israel needs people learning Torah for our state just as it needs soldiers fighting for it. Additionally, the Torah states in Devarim, “Me Haeish Hayareh Verech Halev Yelech Veyashev Lebeito Leo Yemas Et Achayiv kilevavo”(Perek Chaf Pasuk Chet). This pasuk translates to: “What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, that he should not cause the heart of his brother to melt, as his heart.” Why should Israel force a man to go to war when he is faint hearted and fully believes that he should be back home learning Torah. Why should he influence other soldiers negatively? It would be better if he stayed home.
Kimia Kavosh, Los Angeles
I agree with every word David Suissa wrote with regard to the Charedim who owe a debt of gratitude to the Israeli soldiers in the IDF. I find it distasteful that they feel they owe nothing to the country that supports and protects them. They believe that by learning Torah and praying, that God will protect them. Yes, there is a time for learning, yes, there is a time for prayer. However, we cannot passively wait for miracles. We have to be prepared to defend ourselves, and pray that G-d will protect us and help us defeat our enemies. The Torah makes it clear that we have to take the first step. For example, in Exodus 14:15, when the Jews were escaping Egypt, they came to the Red Sea and waited for it to part. They cried out to God, who told them to go forth, and only then did it part, when they entered the sea. The Charedim have benefited so much from the state of Israel, and it is time they also step forward and become an integral part of Israeli society.
Rachel Elias via e-mail
I agree with David Suissa’s opinion that the Charedim should not use religion as an excuse to get out of their responsibility of defending their country. The title of the article states that the Charedim, if anything, should at least thank the IDF for protecting the state of Israel, allowing them to be able to continue their Torah study. The Charedim say that studying Torah provides a “spiritual protection” for the state. Suissa’s reply to this is that “in return the state will give you spiritual dollars.” As much as the idea of having spiritual protection is helpful in securing our faith, it doesn’t necessarily give us a secure and protected feeling. The Charedim take this as an attack on Torah, acting as if we are banning them from their studies, forcing them to participate in the IDF. Suissa writes, “Learning Torah and defending the country are not mutually exclusive. Combining both is a living example of Kiddush Hashem.” Making them join the IDF and defer from studying full time is not an attack on Torah and so religion should not be used as an excuse.
Hannah Kessler, Beverly Hills