Friday, November 19, 2010

Are The Religious Taking Over The IDF, Israeli Army?

The Israeli secular leaders, media, politicians, military etc. have been troubled and stumped by the unstoppable increase in religious army officers.  Considering how many times I've heard of my neighbors' kids and other religious (and Right, pro-Jews in the Land of Israel) soldiers being rewarded with Chayal Mitztayen, Top/Excellent Soldier citation, I think checking the percentages there will give good background and explanation for the rise of religious officers.  By comparing percentages of religious vs secular getting the citation, I'm sure one can predict the percentage of religious officers.

Israeli politicians and media do their best to ignore the high percentage of children from the secular and Left of Israeli society who find ways of shirking military service or getting non-combat positions.  They love to criticize the yeshiva students' deferment and reduced service, even though at the same time they condemn religious soldiers for demanding strictly kosher food and entertainment.

Motivation is the key to military success, on both the personal and national levels.  The secular Left isn't motivated to sacrifice for anyone.  They live for the "me," of John Lennon's Imagine.
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
People who agree with John Lennon are bad soldiers.  That's not peace, the thing that John Lennon wanted, it's death.  I can't imagine anything more depressing than a life without meaning, without something you love so much you'd even die for it.

Compare it to the שמע ישראל Shema Yisrael, Listen/Hear People of Israel prayer:
V'ahav'ta* eit Adonai Elohekha b'khol l'vav'kha uv'khol naf'sh'kha uv'khol m'odekha.
And you shall love* the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
*ואהבת V'ahav'ta, And you shall love, doesn't mean romantic love.  The verb is used in the Bible to mean a pledge of alliance/allegiance, like when Jonathan pledged political allegiance to David, even though it meant that Jonathan wouldn't inherit the throne from his father King Saul.

Religious soldiers, who are "taking over" the IDF, were raised saying this pledge to G-d twice a day.  The Shema Yisrael prayer instructs us to worship G-d with all our heart-emotion, all our soul-intelligence and all our being-body.  It's the antithesis of the secular Left hymn "Imagine."

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach
Have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat


Risa Tzohar said...

Very nicely put!
Shabbat Shalom

Batya said...

See you next week. Trust Eli to make sure the crowd gets together at least once a year...

Anonymous said...

Everyone lives for 'me'.

Anonymous said...

Shabbat shalom Batya.
While I do like the late John Lennon's music, you are on the mark. he also had another song named G-d. the final line went , "I just believe in me".
Ps I am in Jerusalem as I write this. am visiting my son who is in Reichit for the year. He and I did a tour of some of the settlements , perhaps we'll seeShiloh.

Batya said...

a1, not true
a2, hope so, if you're coming please let me know

cathy said...

You raise an interesting topic in this post.

It is true that an ideology of religion self-sacrifice is good precondition to make good soldiers or warriors.

I suppose the suicide attacks of islamist fundamentalists are the best example for this.

At the same time, it can be quite dangerous to combine religious ideology and weapons, as the example I gave above shows.

I found that an important, basic tenet of judaism, was to keep the temple and weapons separated. I think the midrash says that the stones of the alter were not hewn, because the iron that causes dead should not come near the altar of the G-d of life.

Therefore I was really, really shocked when I saw a Menorah in the shape of Uzis (every little tube holding a candle was in the shape of an Uzi, candle seeming to come out of the "firing hole".

In the same vain, I am shocked when I see a person praying while having a weapon on their body (isn't there a halacha that you should not pray with a weapon on you?)

So on the one hand, we gain very motivated soldiers, but on the other hand it could also get out of hand. First signs of it appear in the context of enforcing dismantelments of settlements.

Batya said...

Cathy, weapons are required equipment for self-defense, a holy act. Being passive when attacked is forbidden by Jewish Law. There is nothing forbidden in holding a weapon and praying. We are commanded to defend ourselves.