Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yeshivas are moving north out of danger, what about the protection of Torah learning? - Updated

Many of the yeshivas in the South (Ashdod and other places) have temporarily moved to Yerushalayim or Bnei Brak.

On one hand the move is understandable, with rockets landing in Ashdod they wanted to move to a safer place. However, on the other hand, this raises some serious questions. The Charedi world justifies the draft exemption for yeshiva students based on the following:

1. Torah learning protects everyone
2. The boys are engaged in מלחמתה של תורה
3. Talmidie Chachamim don't need protection

Based on these it would seem that the Yeshivas should stay where they are. If the boys who are learning are engaged in war just like the soldiers why should they abandon their posts? In addition if Torah learning protects, let them stay where they are and be protected by their Torah. Their move undermines the claim for draft exemptions and looks very bad. The soldiers are entering Gaza to fight while the yeshiva bachurim are fleeing to safer havens.

Update 1/6

The Yeshivos that I am talking about are Charedi Yeshivos. I took the information from last week's Mishpacha magazine. Here are some of the Yeshivas that left Ashdod:
Grodna, Petersburg,Belz,Ger.

Here is how the Roshei Yeshiva explained the move:
תורה מגנא ומצלא, אבל ככה קשה לבחורים להתרכז
Torah protects and saves, however, the boys found it hard to concentrate


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Actually, if they want to be true to the stuff they spew, they should be moving into the army bases and learning there, as the Midrash tells us learning is like a shield and spear. That they're running for cover tells you how much they really believe the excuses the give when it comes to ducking army service.

Chaim B. said...

Where do you get this leap of reasoning from? Dayo l'ba min hadin l'heyos k'nadon. Let's take an example from Baba Basra - talmidei chachamim are exempt from paying taxes for a city wall because Torah protects them. But if a wall itself is insufficient protection, e.g. an enemy can breach a wall or lauch rockets over a wall, and that forces people to leave the city, who says talmidei chachamim must stay? Where the degree of danger exceeds the threshold of what the usual precautions can guard against then talmidei chachaim are as exposed as anyone else. By way of analogy, shluchei mitzvah ainan nizokin, but if bari hezeika all bets are off.

bluke said...

I am not the one making the leap. Charedi sources use this claim to exempt Yeshiva students from the draft. This follows as a logical conclusion

Bxpansive said...

I would put the argument for yeshiva students and their rabbaim staying put or moving to an army base a little differently: were yeshiva students and their rabbaim to stay put or to move with the soldiers, it would be a kiddish H-shem and it would create a unity that would have extremely positive results for the Clal. It would be m'serus nefesh in unity and support of the m'serus nefesh that the soldiers put forth - people who, according to the religeous people who I know, don't know the value of Torah and mitzvoht, who don't appreciate the Land, people who eventually will leave the Land.

Disclaimer: I live in the US, not near these battles. I do wonder if I or my family will be targets of attacks here, but this is nothing like living in Eretz Yisroel.


Unknown said...

There are those who have not left, and have no intention of leaving. The Melitzer Rebbe, shlita, who lives in Ashdod has not left, nor his followers. And they live in old buildings with no in-apartment shelter - meaning they have to run to the building shelter in the basement or the neighborhood shelter, which is impossible to do with a 35 second missile warning.

Indeed, they stand by this statement literally.

Yeshiva Chut shel Chesed in Jerusalem has been sending their men TO Ashdod and S'Derot, to set up learning with the local population and encourage them.

Dan said...

Does anybody actually beleive that the Torah will physically protect them from harm in the manner we are talking about? What if I see someone about to shoot me - should I run away or stay where I am and say kriat shema so all the bullets will miss me. Run away obviously. No rational person would think otherwise. In reality, the Yeshivos do not think otherwise either as evidenced by their move - their actions speak louder than their words. If you truly beleive something, you act upon that belief and the Yeshivos have unveiled their true colors - common sense, i.e. if missiles are about to fall on me, I should move out of the way. If the Yeshivos were to stay in the line of fire, it would haved been pure stupidity and that is not rok am CHACHAM viNAVON - it is the opposite. And the Roshei Yeshivos saying that they really do beleive the Torah protects in this way after they have already gotten out of harms way is just weak.

abbafive said...

For those missing the not so subtle point, I believe that Bluke is not arguing that there is no danger - it would seem to me that his view is quite to the contrary - of course there is danger, very real and palpable and this is danger that applies to equally to the flafel stand and the beit midrash -- and it is thus incumbent on Klaal Yisrael to have a standing army that protects and defends us. (Nor does this bring thoughtful people to religious crisis - see, e.g., Elisha Ben Abuya for the dangers in taking Ma'amarei Chazal too literally ...).

Rather, he attempting to identify the hypocricy evident in those who deny the obligation to serve on the basis of LACK OF NEED - something we all undoubtedly have heard many times (i.e., "we're protected").

Here, his point is clear and undisputable.

Doron Beckerman said...

הנה אף שעניין צבא ההגנה הוא ענין גדול, אבל ענין לימוד התורה ללומדי תורה הוא ענין עוד יותר גדול להגן על המדינה כמפורש פ"א דבבא בתרא, וכנראה שהממשלה הכירה ג"כ את זה, ומי שלומד בישיבה גדולה ועוסק בתורה פטור מענייני חיובי הצבא. ולכן ודאי מי שיש לו תשוקה ללימוד התורה וליעשות גדול בתורה ובהוראה וביראת שמים, יש לו לילך לישיבות הגדולות, ויהיה ברכה לכלל ישראל והגנה גדולה לכל ישראל

(אגרות משה ח"ח יו"ד ח"ד סימן לג

that guy said...

Consider this...
in Sderot NOBODY has left and they have been learning there with DAILY missiles for 8 or 9 years.
No running like chickens.
No making excuses.
No lies.

bluke said...


What exactly was your point? No one here is disputing the importance of learning torah. The only question was whether they should leave.

In any case you have to admit that R' Moshe was wrong about the governments reasoning for draft exemptions.

Doron Beckerman said...

My point was that RMF holds that Torah learning protects more than the army ענין גדול יותר להגן על המדינה. So let's set that aside as a point of argument.

The question is then only whether Torah study can be viewed as a fool-proof force field against any kind of bombs and missiles. The answer is no. Just like if an army has just tanks, it isn't guaranteed victory at all, so too if it only had Torah learners and no fighters, there is no guarantee of victory. The army needs infantry, artillery, armored corps, airforce, navy, etc. Of all of those corps, the Learning Corps is the most important element of protection *for the entire army*. But for them to put themselves in the line of fire when they aren't being shielded from missile attacks is the equivalent of putting infantry where they will get mortar shelled, without armored and air cover.

About RMF's reason for the Yeshiva boys' exemption, it might depend who you asked, DBG or Menachem Begin. The Teshuva was written in תשמ"א - under Menachem Begin.