Israeli rabbis urge loyalty go God over IDF

Friday, December 18, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Since Israel's rebirth over 60 years ago there has been a fear that God-fearing Israeli Jews would refuse military orders if they in any way violated God's Word.

For the most part, such situations have never arisen. But with the recent uprooting of Jews from areas of the Land of Israel, and fears that those evacuations will be repeated, a number of rabbis are reminding young soldiers that their loyalty to God and His Word trumps their loyalty to the state and its army.

"Loyalty to God stands before any other loyalty," said the heads of Israel's hesder yeshivas in a joint statement. The hesder yeshivas follow the Orthodox Zionist strain of Judaism, which views military service in the Israeli army as religious duty. The hesder yeshivas have an agreement with the army under which their students spend half of their national service time studying, and the other half serving in combat units.

Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak caused an uproary when he officially cut ties to the hesder yeshiva in the Samarian Jewish community of Har Bracha after its head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, urged all young Israeli soldiers to not violate God's Word by participating in future expulsions of Jews from their homes.

In their statement, released ahead of a gathering of the Union of Hesder Yeshivot on Sunday, the heads of the other 61 hesder yeshivas backed Melamed and warned that "the army is being used for purposes unrelated to defending Israel, which are opposed to the will of God."

Many Israeli political and religious figures are urging Barak to reconcile with Melamed and the hesder yeshiva movement to avoid further dividing Israeli society down religious lines and creating a situation where religious soldiers feel outcast and eventually turn their backs on the IDF.

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