Ignorance of Torah & Tzom Yeshayahu

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The Rav I had before I moved to Yavniel was Charedi-Chassidic who had served in the IDF with other charedim and later went in to the combat handassa kravit too.  He used to tell us stories of his service mixed in with his Torah shiyurim.  He was one of the lucky who had a commander who actually sympathized with the religious, unlike many others who don’t.

One time in basic training they decided to pull a prank on their commander.  They were scheduled for a shabbes at home and they all decided they wanted out a bit earlier.  So they told their commander, who they realized was totally Am HaAretz and didn’t know diddley-squat about Torah and Judaism, that it’s probably best they leave a bit early, since they will be fasting for Tzom Yeshayahu.  He let them all out early.

Imagine the scene when the mem-mem came and asked the commander where his men were.

Yes, there is no such thing as Tzom Yeshayahu.

Serving to protect Israel needs to go hand-in-hand with the spiritual protection afforded only by learning Torah.  And Torah is not just another subject like others learned in school. 

Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael all go together.  We live and survive totally different from the rest of the world.  Without Torah, what are we protecting?  What is our identity, if not defined by Torah.  How can it be that there are Jews right here in Eretz Yisrael who know nothing about Torah and Judaism?!  What’s equally bad is that they do not value Torah either nor know of its power.  And why don’t we ever hear the question (posed with an exclamation mark, as it is in the converse): “What would happen if there was no one left to study Torah?”

Just as King Hezkiyahu did to win against the Assyrian army (Kings II 19: 35), it’s time we draft all of Am Yisrael in to study Torah so that the spiritual “burden” can be divided equally.

Btw, the Talmud explains how Sanheriv was defeated when “an angel of God went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men” (ibid).

Tractate Sanhedrin 94b explains this scene and says that Sanheriv was defeated “because the [study lamp] oil of Hezekiah was constantly lit in the synagogues.”  That is, King Hezkiyahu got his entire population studying Torah.  Everyone studied Torah – children, army-age young adults, to old folks.  In fact, he had no army, because everyone was studying Torah.  So there is, in fact, precedent on this “question”.

Just as recruits learn moreshet krav, they should be learning moreshet saba – i.e. Torah.  And then, quite possibly the gedolei hador will change their da’at Torah.

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