A group of 40 religious men have joined the Israeli Air Force. The men have reportedly received training in areas such as aircraft maintenance, mechanics and the arming of fighter jets and helicopters. The recruits all have a low medical profile and cannot serve in combat positions.
The project was launched due to the depleted supply of human resources in the Air Force and in an attempt to provide Orthodox men with professional experience that would later help integrate them into the private market.
A program has already existed for 8 years to enable yeshiva dropouts to serve in the Zionist army while maintaining their level of Torah observance. This program is known as Nahal Haredi, and was founded by the religious Zionist Rabbi Yitzchok Bar Chaim. Its goal was to give these delinquent youths something productive to do.
But this recent recruitment of the 40 former yeshiva boys into the air force was done outside of the Nahal Haredi program. This has upset the rabbis of Nahal Haredi, - who told Ynet: We and our families paid a heavy personal price so that the Nahal Haredi would gain its legitimacy, and we were shocked to hear of another program for the recruitment of haredim that is famous for its permissiveness. This can hurt the Nahal Haredi.
When the Nahal Haredi program was launched, it was condemned by anti-Zionist rabbis as participation in the Zionist enterprise of conquering the Holy Land and waging war with other nations, which is forbidden by the Talmud.
The Nahal Haredi website admits that their concept is a novel one and is not widely accepted by the religious community. They write: "For many soldiers, enlistment into the Nahal Haredi is&a choice that many times has serious social and family repercussions that result in situations where the proud soldier now in uniform does not feel welcome at home or in his community. He finds himself lacking the very basic needs of existence e.g. living quarters and sustenance, when he leaves the confines of his army base. He has parents, but he doesn't have a home!"
Nahal Haredi began with 30 recruits and to date it has had more than 2,000 recruits. 1,000 Nahal Haredi troops currently serve in the IDF.
However, many of these soldiers are not actually "haredi" (ultra-orthodox). According to a 2005 article in Haaretz, estimates of the percentage of Nahal Haredi soldiers coming from haredi families ranged from 30% to 60%. The others are from the religious Zionist and settler communities; they chose Nahal Haredi over the standard hesder program because they desire higher stringency in observance of Jewish law.
Religious Jews who serve in the army, aside from their own personal sin of furthering the Zionist agenda, create a terrible chillul hashem a desecration of the name of G-d. Previously, the Chassidic and Yeshiva communities living under the Zionist regime kept completely away from the army, and they could boast that they were not assisting the Zionists in their sin of conquering and occupying the land.
But religious activists over the years made a fatal error when they justified their exemption from the army with the excuse of full-time yeshiva studies. This left open the door to the drafting of boys who, for whatever reason, were unable to dedicate themselves to this intensive study. This idea became a reality with the founding of the Nahal Haredi eight years ago.
Now it appears to the world as if the religious Jews have no opposition to the Zionist state and its army, except that they want their boys to remain in the yeshiva. This terrible distortion of the Torah view affects not only the individuals who joined the army or supported this program, but it affects the entire Orthodox Jewish world. Now any non-Jew in the world who opposes Zionism may look at an Orthodox Jew in full Orthodox dress and see him as a Zionist!
Furthermore, great ignorance prevails in the Jewish world about the Torah view on Zionism, and now it has become immeasurably harder to show people the truth.
The problem this program allegedly came to solve has, in fact, a much simpler solution. Boys who cannot maintain the rigorous schedule of yeshiva studies should enter the workforce, just as they do in all other countries where religious Jews live. The religious community of the Holy Land should explain to the Zionists in no uncertain terms: our boys may study Torah, our boys may work for a living, but they will not under any circumstances participate in the sin of maintaining your state and waging wars against other nations.
Until this happens, Jews faithful to the Torah must raise their voices in protest before the world against this treachery perpetrated by their fellow Orthodox Jews.