September 20, 2017: Rabbinic will

Our readers sound off on the week's biggest news stories.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Rabbinic will
Equality before the law in respect to haredi participation in the defense this country (“Religion and state,” Frontlines, September 15) will remain a chimera until those who make our laws decide to do something substantive about it.
The solution to the problem has been staring us in the face for over half a century. In terms that are clearly understandable to religious and secular alike, such a law might read: “Thou shalt not savor of the primest fruit of your country’s democratic cornucopia – the right to vote – while simultaneously rejecting your civil and legal obligation to participate, unless physically incapable, in its defense.” You don’t serve? You don’t vote.
Since haredi political power is largely predicated on its ability to make and unmake the coalitions that have ruled Israel since its inception, and since that power stems from the number of votes at its command, anything like a threatened spike in that flow is going to engage the sure-fire attention of its rabbinic hierarchy.
With due regard for a limited number of exemptions for outstanding Torah scholars and perhaps a blending of haredi military obligations into some version of the Hesder study-service system that prevails in the modern yeshiva movement, we could ultimately arrive at a realization of that old saw that “where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halachic way.”
I was very sad to learn of the dissension between the government and the religious authorities regarding enlistment in the military.
I happened to be reading a book called The History of the Jews in England, written in 1738 by a Christian cleric named D’Blossiers Tovey, and found this sentence: “For though all men have the natural right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience, no man has a natural right to be rewarded for doing so. The civil government has nothing to do with religion, yet the frailties of mankind will forever be mixing something with it which they call religion.”
So what else is new?
During recent visits to Israel, I read several articles in The Jerusalem Post about haredi protesters who feel entitled to exemptions of service to their country that are not afforded to other citizens.
My company has been fortunate enough to donate facilities to the IDF, including those used by the all-female Eitam combat battalion near the border with Egypt; the Kfir Brigade base near Jordan, the naval commando base in Atlit and the IAF’s 105th Scorpion Squadron based near Tel Aviv. I had the great honor to meet with many young heroes of many backgrounds, including lone soldiers (many of whom the haredim would refer to as not Jewish) who came from all over the world to volunteer their service.
These IDF soldiers have dedicated themselves to the defense of Israel rather than protesting and throwing rocks at police. Their personal sacrifice is truly admirable and it is an insult to their service as well as the security of Israel that anyone should feel entitled to enjoy the benefits of citizenship without also bearing the responsibilities.
My father served in the American military during World War II and often reminded me and my brothers that the reason we lost so many Jews in the Holocaust was due to the fact that too many of us chose to just pray rather than fight. The State of Israel serves as testimony to the promise “Never again.”
Perhaps the haredim need to study history as well as the Torah.
Orlando, Florida
The writer is a commercial real estate developer.
A wish for peace
With Rosh Hashana coming, I only wish that there would be peace in the world. I hope that during the Jewish New Year, people will be able to put aside their differences and learn to accept one another, and that we can all get along and have a healthy and peaceful year.
New York