From the Archives of Tradition

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

tradition-cabinetby R. Yitzchak Blau

I feel deeply privileged to have spent several years of my yeshiva career hearing shiurim and sichot from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zekher tzadik le’vracha. R. Lichtenstein was a bastion of intellectual depth, a model of authentic piety, and a pillar of ethical excellence. As the shiva comes to a close, it is certainly an appropriate time to focus on his Torah.

Hesder students currently feel a need to justify their not enlisting for regular army service. This stands in stark contrast to thirty years ago when such students were more challenged to explain their not selecting full time yeshiva. Some of the rabbinic personalities involved in the early hesder yeshivot spoke of hesder as a bi’dieved option. Others taught that the justification for joining the army depended on defining Israel’s military conflicts as milchamot mitzva.

In this path breaking essay, R. Lichtenstein rooted the need for army service in commitment to gemilut chassadim and to bearing our ethical responsibilities. Such justification has validity and force irrespective of the legal status of contemporary warfare. Well aware of the religious difficulties in army life, R. Lichtenstein outlines some of the potential conflicts even as he robustly champions the hesder option. The essay also addresses classical rabbinic sources often adduced to explain the position of those who avoid army service and explains why R. Lichtenstein did not find them compelling.

The essay is available here: link (PDF)

About Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada and an Associate Editor of Tradition.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter