Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is there causality between the number of full time Torah learners and the results of Israel's wars?

R' Yair Hoffman posted the following chart which he claimed showed that the correlation of loss of life of IDF soldiers r”l in the wars to the amount of Yeshiva students studying in Yeshiva, shows a clear inverse relationship: the more students in yeshiva, the less loss of life.
Name of WarTotal loss of life, r”l# of Yeshiva Students in Israel
1982 Lebanon War72512,150
2006 Lebanon War16551,084
2012 Operation Cast Lead1366,000
Clearly, the number of lives lost is only 1 factor in the success or failure of a war  and is very much dependent on who you are fighting and what kind of war. Fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza should lead to fewer casualties then fighting an all out war against multiple Arab armies armed with the latest weapons. Therefore, the fact that only 13 soldiers were killed in Operation Cast Lead does not show anything about the efficacy of Torah learning, the low number of casualties was expected based on the military situation. In fact, IMHO a much better barometer is the actual outcome of the war and if we use that as our measure of Torah learnings protection we come to the opposite conclusion. 
Name of WarOutcome of War# of Yeshiva Students in Israel
1948Miraculous Victory400
1967Miraculous Victory600
1973Hard fought painful victory800
1982 Lebanon WarNot a clear cut victory, led to an almost 20 year occupation of Southern Lebanon12,150
2006 Lebanon WarDraw51,084
2012 Operation Cast LeadMarginal at Best66,000
Based on the chart above one can make the argument that as the number of full time learners mushroomed the outcomes of the wars became progressively worse. 

Is any of this conclusive? Of course not, but I think that my analysis makes a lot more sense then R' Hoffman's.


zdub said...

Excellent "analysis" as opposed to Hoffman's cherry picking. A well-functioning Torah-based society requires that its citizens learn Torah, earn parnassah, and directly participate in milchemet mitzvah. It takes some very convoluted reasoning to state that the Torah and its primary Talmudic commentaries suggest otherwise. But if all one is engaged in is learning full-time, that convolution comes rather easily.

Zev Steinhardt said...

Well, just to be fair, I think you might be missing the point as well.

R. Hoffman wasn't making the point that learning = military success, but that learning = protection from harm.

Of course, the best protection from harm would be to have no war and no casualties at all, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

(Not that I agree with R. Hoffman -- I agree that his argument is deeply flawed.)

Zev Steinhardt

bluke said...

The Charedim are saying that the Lomdei torah are just as important as the soldiers to ensuring victory. The chart I put up seems to contradict that.

Kevin in Chicago said...

Thank you for this bit of common sense. I was relieved to see that many of CC's readers also weren't buying R' Hoffman's argument.

Without presuming to know Hashem's plans or intentions, I sincerely doubt the zechut of Medinat Yisrael and its inhabitants is judged according to the number of its yeshivah students or their annual Torah-hours per capita, as these do not appear to correlate very well with doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with Hashem.