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This Will Bring Out Our Best 

The path to ultimate victory for all of Klal Yisrael lies in our redoubling our efforts in limud Torah



Last week, Israel’s High Court issued a ruling that the government must begin drafting yeshivah students into the IDF because there is no legal framework to continue granting them exemptions from army service.

How should we, as chareidi Jews, relate to this ruling?

Israel’s High Court is a self-appointed body that doesn’t have any precedent in the Western democratic world. The premise of the American court system is that there is a legal foundation, the Constitution, that underpins and serves as a reference point and guidepost for every new legal development. Israel’s High Court justices, in contrast, have no constitution to answer to. Their measuring stick is “reasonability,” and they are the self-appointed arbiters of what “reasonability” includes.

They are obviously biased against traditional Jewish values — at the very least, certainly against our emunah in the Yud-Gimmel Ikarim and in the sanctity of Torah and the absolute truth of Torah. All that is nonexistent in their eyes, Rachmana litzlan. For us, as chareidi Jews whose every action is determined by Torah, the High Court ruling should have zero meaning.

But millions of frum Jews are living in this medinah, whose highest court of law is so blatantly and outrageously attacking limud Torah. We don’t understand exactly why Hashem has allowed this to happen throughout the last 75 years, but that’s His ratzon. He’s allowing it. How should these citizens relate to their government and its laws that blatantly contradict our mesorah?

Most poskim hold that residents of Eretz Yisrael should follow the principle of dina d’malchusa dina, just as we do in America. But there is an important caveat: Just as in America, dina d’malchusa cannot cause us to disobey Torah, certainly an Israeli dina can’t cause us to disobey Torah. This is the tragic situation we are seeing today: Chareidi Jews living in their own land must risk governmental sanctions for adhering to Torah.

Back in 2013, when Yesh Atid entered the government and tried to impose mandatory army service and workforce requirements on chareidim, Rav Steinman expressed his pain at the fact that in a Jewish homeland, where we are anticipating and begging for Mashiach, a majority of the inhabitants and the representatives in the Knesset had such a disdain, at worst, and at best, an indifference, toward Torah. Limud Torah is the shemirah of Klal Yisrael, and if Torah can be devalued and derided in so public a manner, in this of all places, the chillul Hashem is immeasurable.

We must understand that our entire nation has a stake in how this plays out. When kevod Shamayim is strong, Klal Yisrael is protected. When His kavod is endangered, it weakens Klal Yisrael. And that’s probably the main sakanah in this entire saga — that Yidden are misusing their government appointments and powers to undermine Torah in in such a blatant and dangerous way.

But if you ask me if am I worried whether this will harm or damage our tzibbur, I will answer you in the negative. I believe it’ll only bring the best out in us. We — the shomrei Torah u’mitzvos — are the ultimate protectors of Klal Yisrael, and this new threat will only motivate us to reach greater heights and to ascend to higher levels.

Some worry that this ruling will decrease our Torah learning. I think the opposite is true. If anything, this ruling is going to increase and deepen our motivation to keep learning. And that feeling of being a nirdaf, the sense of persecution, is only going to incentivize us to extend more commitment and more support to Torah learning.

Even outside the beis medrash, this ruling may well have positive reverberations: It can help us understand where we do and don’t belong. It can spur us to separate ourselves from the culture permeating the state, which is unfortunately deeply enmeshed in Western values and ambitions and chukas hagoyim.

And it will motivate us to daven with true feeling and urgency for the return of our shoftim. It is clearer than ever that the judges on the Israeli High Court are not the shoftim of our mesorah; they are counterfeit. We must daven Hashivah shofteinu k’vatchilah, that Hashem will restore our nation’s authentic judges.

In every time of pervading darkness lies the potential for great illumination. Baruch Hashem, we’re already at a point where millions of Yidden living in Eretz Yisrael appreciate the uniqueness of Klal Yisrael, our identity as a mamleches kohanim v’goy kadosh.

On one hand, the powers that exist are causing great desecration, but on the other hand, many hundreds of thousands are countering that hollowness with great kiddush Hashem. The path to ultimate victory for all of Klal Yisrael lies in our redoubling our efforts in limud Torah. If we grasp even more tightly to our mesorah, we will help the will of Hashem prevail.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1018)

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