Friday, September 21, 2012

Perplexed: Yona Metzger on Israeli Conscription

Sir, - After a careful reading of the interview with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, I feel much in need of a guide for the perplexed. I found his answer to the most crucial question posed to him as a Chief Rabbi, namely "What do you think should replace the Tal Law?" to be most problematic.

After describing his own service as a gunner in the IDF's 7th Armored Brigade, his convoluted response "Unfortunately, there is a relatively large number of boys officially registered or partially registered at yeshivot, and some of them aren't registered at all, and they wander around, and sometimes become involved in crime and drugs. There are said to be more than 10,000 such youths today. They could fill several brigades in the IDF." This reply gives the impression of an attempt to avoid a direct and clear response, and is both confusing as well as bordering on the deceptive.

Are we to understand that Rabbi Metzger is "donating" ten thousand delinquents for service in the IDF? What about the tens of thousands of  haredim that were exempted by the Tal Law? Why indeed does Rabbi Metzger not propose their conscription for army service combined with Torah study, similar to the program he himself participated in with apparent great success?

Isn't it about time that a Chief Rabbi in Israel declares, that just like Torah study is an obligation for every Jew, so too is service to the country and the security of its people no less an obligation, and incumbent on all its citizen?

Petach Tikva

[Image credit: Lior Golgher]