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Posts Tagged ‘IDF’

 First session in a series on the ‘The “Jewishness” of Israel’

On Thursday, October 28, the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI), in partnership with the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) “Harel” brigade  and the Givat Hatachmoshet organization (Ammunition Hill Museum) will hold a special event  in honor of author Dr. Nachum Baruchi. The event, “Jerusalem–War and Peace,” will feature lectures and discussion by prominent guest speakers. Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs will address the subject of the strategic status of Jerusalem. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, president of SHI, will speak about the “The Vision of Jerusalem in Judaism,” focusing on the critical issues that make Jerusalem one of the most controversial cities in the world.  

The event will honor the publication of a new book by Six Day War veteran Dr. Baruchi, entitled, “The Harel Division in the Six Day War,” which recounts Dr. Baruchi’s experiences as a commander in the Harel Brigade, and the battles the unit faced on the way to uniting Jerusalem during the 1967 war.

On the site of one of the most crucial battles that ultimately allowed the IDF to gain access to the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, “Jerusalem: War and Peace” will seek to break through the rhetoric of political slogans and religious divisions that have come to cloud debates about Jerusalem. The goal of the discussion is to explore core ideas and concepts regarding the role of Jerusalem within Judaism, in the hope that such an exploration can lead to new approaches, possibilities, and solutions, and ultimately, to peace.

Facilitating this SHI-sponsored event is Colonel (reserved) Ya’akov Castel, director of the Shalom Hartman Institute Lev Aharon program, which provides  seminars for senior IDF officers. Over 1,000 senior officers a year participate in this unprecedented leadership training experience, exploring intersections of Jewish and Israeli identity, Zionism, religious pluralism, and the complex interplay between Judaism, democracy, and morality in Israeli society. For additional information on the Lev Aharon program see: http://www.hartman.org.il/Center_Edu/Program_View.asp?Program_Id=19

 

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I don’t usually mention the same column by Donniel Hartman twice, but clearly this issue is one that is not only not going away, it is heating up: In articles such as this one and this one, we are learning more about the rabbis who are preaching disobedience of orders that may occur in the IDF to participate in evacuations of illegal outposts and settlements and those who are struggling with the issue.

Donniel Hartman, in his latest column, referenced here and also below on this blog, has come out forcefully and clearly as to why this just cannot happen. And Donniel doesn’t just criticize, he, as usual, puts the matter into context and calls on all of Israeli society to engage in the deep and complex debate of how the Jewish religion must be intertwined – or not – with the political and civil life of the Jewish state.

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Donniel Hartman writes about how the Israeli army must limit the reach of the army rabbis, and how Religious Zionists must declare their loyalty to the State of Israel over the religious aspects of the Land of Israel:

A soldier may thus rationalize that if the army cannot command him to violate the Shabbat, and such a command is deemed illegal, it is even more evident to him that the army cannot command him to dismantle a settlement, as settling the land of Israel is deemed even more important than observance of Shabbat.

I therefore suggest the following practical direction: not only must the army be free from pursuing internal political debates, so too it must be free from any religious discourse outside of the private ritual practices of its soldiers. Every soldier must be told upfront and recognize that he or she must follow unquestioningly the orders of the civilian government of Israel and the laws that it enacts, and the military chain of command so long as those laws are legal….

Anyone serving in the army must swear allegiance to this principle. If they cannot, then they must be designated as conscientious objectors who are not allowed to serve. Religious Zionism and religious communities have thus a critical decision to make: If they believe that their commitment to the holiness of the Land of Israel is so central that it must override all other concerns and that the State has value only to the extent that it brings more Jews to live in more of the land of Israel, then they must declare up front their conscientious objection to serving in the army, and go the path of the ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews.

Click here to read the full article.

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The London Times (sorry, Times of London) is reporting that – according to Western intelligence sources – Iran has:

perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead and is merely awaiting the word from its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to produce its first bomb

Leaving aside whether we can actually believe that story – assuming it is nearly true if not completely so, that’s a terrible thing, right? Maybe, just maybe, this crisis can be turned into an opportunity; at least that’s the opinion of Shalom Hartman Institute’s Moshe Halbertal. More than a year ago, before this position became the de facto policy of the United States, Moshe wrote:

The Iranian bomb may be a destabilizing force in the region, a watershed in the nuclear arms race and a potential catalyst for World War III. It is also, however, a tremendous opportunity….

It is the jihadization of the conflict which, paradoxically, harbors the possibility of its dissolution. Arab national regimes, once quite content to allow radical Islam to spearhead their war against Israel for them, now find themselves within the fatal range of the nuclear monster they’ve helped create. Millions of Arabs are now realizing, perhaps for the first time, that the prospect of a nuclear jihad is every bit a threat to them as it is to Israel. The Iranian bomb is indeed a destabilizing force in the region, though not quite in the usual sense of the term; driving a wedge into the Arab front, it places the vast majority of the Arab world squarely on the strategic side of the West.

For more unconventional yet logical thinking from Halbertal on this, click here for his full essay.

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In a lecture this week to rabbis at Shalom Hartman Institute for the annual summertime Rabbinical Torah Study Seminar, Donniel Hartman mentioned that he had just finished a session with senior IDF commanders attending an ongoing program at Shalom Hartman Institute, the Lev Aharon program.

This program teaches Judaism, Jewish moral philosophy, and other related matters to senior officers of the IDF (majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels), in an effort to help them better understand their roles as defenders of the Jewish nation, and to explain the same to their soldiers, some of whom have rudimentary Jewish knowledge. The program is not about teaching kashrut, Shabbat observance, or ritual, but the historical, cultural, and moral underpinnings of the Jewish nation.

So, Donniel was saying how the officers were complaining that some religious soldiers are taking extreme stands on matters and, for example, are not willing to listen to a female singer during Army celebrations or ceremonies. Or, the commanders asked, what do we do when we go away for a unit retreat and some soldiers want single-sex swimming hours in the pool. Donniel said the commanders are struggling with such real, “tachlis” (detailed) conundrums.

It seemed to me that some of the rabbis in the room were skeptical that the situation was so complicated, or at least found it difficult to believe that such internal problems could occur in a Jewish army. I’ll admit, I thought so, too, to a degree.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw this article today on Ynetnews: Rabbi Eliyahu warns of rabbis who ‘kowtow to women’:

Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu warned this week of the rising prominence of the liberal stream in religious Zionism and slammed rabbis who “kowtow to women.”

During a Torah lesson he delivered on Monday, the prominent national religious leader spoke in length about the importance of observing chastity codes. He advised soldiers to cover their ears during military ceremonies that include women singing. “It’s better to go to jail than to obey the commander and hear a woman sing or play.”

….Eliyahu’s son, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, also referred to the issue of women performing in military events. He commented on a recent statement by the chief education officer, who said religious soldiers must stay put during such ceremonies, despite the halachic problem.

“This order is clearly illegal,” said Eliyahu. “A person cannot be forced to go against the Torah. Today it’s singing, tomorrow it’s singing plus half naked women… a breach in such a question is like fire – you don’t know where it’s going to end.”

Just when you thought you had heard it all: “Today it’s singing…you don’t know where it’s going to end.” I don’t mean to make light: this is an important matter. Donniel did not say what he counseled the officers to do. But it is clearly a matter in which the Shalom Hartman Institute can play an important role in helping the jewish army of the State of israel remain both Jewish and democratic.

Hattip to the excellent blog, Religion and State in Israel.

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Brian Blum, a Jerusalem-based writer, blogger, editor, and web entrepreneur, writes lyrically about his son’s graduation from Charles E. Smith High School for Boys at Shalom Hartman Institute, gives us a little bit of Rabbi David Hartman’s talk to the graduates and a brief video, as well.

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The annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot lectures at Shalom Hartman Institute are one of the year’s most anticipated events.
This year’s theme is, “Ethics, Judaism and War,” and features lectures in English and Hebrew from Hartman Institute faculty on issues both classic and contemporary.

Shavuot evening, Thursday, 28 May, 2009

English/אנגלית
22.30-23.45 Rabbi Prof. David Hartman: The Role of the Other in Situations of War and Civic Life in the Jewish Tradition
2.30-3.30 Dov Weiss: “Moshe’s Protest against Divine War: The Case of Sihon.”

Hebrew/עברית
00:00-01:00 הרב ד”ר דניאל הרטמן: מוסר מלחמה במסורת היהודית ובמקורות ישראל

01:15-02:15 פרופ’ אבי שגיא, האלוף ישי בר: “והיה מחניך קדוש”: טוהר הנשק ומשמעותו במסמך רוח צה”ל

02:30-03:30 ד”ר אורית קמיר: מוסר כבוד האדם במלחמה

חג שבועות ביום – יום שישי ו’ סיון, 29 במאי, 2009

16:00-17:00 ביטי רואי: כוח, תפילה ומלחמה בתורת ר’ נחמן מברסלב
17:15-18:15 פרופ’ אבי שגיא: מוסר במלחמה

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