By David Benkof
The disappearance of Aaron Sofer in the Jerusalem forest is of course alarming.
But far more important is the instruction of Rav Aharon Shteinman shlita, today’s leading Lithuanian haredi rabbi, that Israeli students at the monumental Mir yeshiva put down their Talmuds and search for Sofer five days after he went missing.
Now, the odds that Sofer was simply lost among the trees are quite small. And he’s just one person.
But he’s a yeshiva bochur.
At the same time, haredim and their leaders have refused every single proposed compromise that would draft their youth – or at least some of them – into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They won’t even discuss national service. While the children of secular and religious Zionist Jews fight and die to protect our People and our Land, haredim have argued that they, too, play a key role in protecting Israel.
Torah study, they say, is a spiritual shield for Israel, which is as important as the military’s physical shield.
So why would Rav Shteinman order Mir students out of the yeshiva and into the forests? After all, many non-haredim were already physically searching for Sofer. Shouldn’t the Mir be a place to spiritually search for Sofer?
We can now see the obvious hypocrisy of haredi excuses not to participate in the IDF or at least perform national service. If they can put down their gemaras to look for one of their own, they can do the same to defend our nation against hostile enemies.
The premier argument for exempting haredim has been demolished.
I say draft ‘em all.
David Benkof is a freelance writer living in St. Louis. Follow David Benkof on Facebook or E-mail him at [email protected].