Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rav Ovadiah on Tzahal

There is no question that Rav Ovadiah Yosef is hands down the greatest Sefardi posek of this and many generations. To expand upon this point would just be repeating what has already been said so many times. 

So here is my question: What was Rav Ovadiah's opinion about serving in Tzahal?

When he was alive he fought a hard battle to stop the forced enlistment of Yeshiva students, to the extent that one of his son claims that he died because of the pain this battle caused him.

Girls? No question that he was strongly opposed [as are all Rabbonim whole opinions are worth anything]. But what about boys who aren't in yeshiva learning? 

Some would say that it is a no-brainer that he is in favor. Why wouldn't he be? It is a mitzva to serve in the army. The chayalim are so holy!! OF COURSE HE WAS IN FAVOR!

Others are of the opinion that he would be against - how can a frum boy serve in a non-religious army where his religious standards are compromised [this is not me speaking - this is those who are against].    

I am confused. 

On one hand he came out against even the Nachal Charedi which is supposed to be the most religious-friendly unit in the army:

הרב הגאון יצחק יוסף שליט"א, בנו של מרן רבנו עובדיה יוסף שליט"א, מביא בספרו "ילקוט יוסף" (כיבוד הורים, פרק ט, סוף הערה ס), הספר שהספרדים ובני עדות המזרח בארץ ובעולם נוהגים על פיו, דברים קשים ביותר שכתב אביו, מרן רבינו עובדיה יוסף שליט"א, לגבי הנח"ל החרדי, המכונה גם "נצח יהודה".

מרן דוחה את טענת ה"אנשים מקצה המחנה בעלי דעות משונות", הטוענים שמחנות הנח"ל החרדי מצילים את הנוער מהחטא, אלא ההיפך הוא הנכון, "השוהים במחנות אלו הגיעו לידי חילול שבת ועבירות חמורות". וזאת משום ש"משכנים בכפיפה אחת עוברי עבירות חמורות יחד עם עלמי חמודות".

לפניכם הדברים במלואם:

"ובענין הנח"ל החרדי, הנה זה לשון הכרוז שיצא לאחרונה, עליו חתומים רבים מגדולי ישראל, ובראשם מרן אדוני אבי מורי ורבי [הגאון הרב עובדיה יוסף שליט"א], ובו נאמר:

"קול ענות במחנה, על גזירה כי באה, ויסיתו אנשים מקצה המחנה בעלי דעות משונות, יחד עם אנשים מחוץ למחנה, לאומיים ציוניים ומזרחיים. לאמור, להציל באנו תלמידי בית רבן, שתורתם תהיה קרעים, לחגור כלי מלחמה, ולהמיר עול ישיבה בעול צבא. ובחלקלקות לשון יפתו, שעול בשר ודם קצינים ומפקדים, יציל את פורקי עול תורה מן החטא. אך הבל בני אדם כזב, בני איש להעלותם מהבל על ידי כן וכו'

"ויכשילום ב[עוונות] קלות וחמורות במחנות הנח"ל החרדי, שם משכנים בכפיפה אחת עוברי עבירות חמורות יחד עם עלמי חמודות. וזעקת שבר של הורים ומורים נשמעים, על בני ציון יקרים, שהגיעו ליד חילול שבת ועבירות חמורות וביזוי כל קודש. ויפלו בקרב מחנות הצבא, שם שוררת אווירת פריקת עול וכו'. עד כאן.

This sounds like "strongly opposed". 

Yes, there are videos of Rav Ovadiah saying that we should daven for the safety of chayalim. Frankly, I believe that Rabbonim associated with the עדה החרדית [known as being very "extreme" in their opposition to the state and army] would agree that in Shma Koleinu one may put in a special tefillah for the soldiers. Do they want the soldiers to die חס ושלום? Jews are in danger and of course we want them to be safe. But saying we should daven for them doesn't mean that we should serve. We also daven for non-religious Jews who are sick, but that doesn't mean that we approve of their lifestyle. 

Rav Ovadiah has two independent daughters who [unlike most or all of his sons] went the Dati Leumi route and have sons who serve in the army. That part of the family claims that Rav Ovadiah was very proud of them. I read a whole article about it. 

His son Rav Avraham was a רב צבאי and I saw a video where he claimed that his father was in favor of boys serving if they are not learning in yeshiva. But his tone when he said it was very defensive.

So what was his opinion??

Rav Ovadiah wrote SOOOOO MUCHHH. Why do we not have one sentence from him saying what a big mitzva it is to serve in the army??? 

This is my feeling [based in part on the evidence and in part on how he seemed to think]: Rav Ovadiah was in general against serving in the army because of the tzniyus, kashrus etc. issues and the general environment not being conducive to what a young ben torah should be experiencing.  

At the same time he was a doting grandfather and when he saw that his grandsons were going to serve in the army anyway, regardless of his opinion, he gave them brachos [we have at least one such video]. He was also an ohev yisrael and a leader who cared about every Jewish body and soul so he davened for all of our soldiers.

If anybody has anything to add I would love to hear. 

I personally wouldn't feel threatened no matter what his opinion. My basis in learning and Avodas Hashem was acquired in the 13 years I was zocheh to learn in a Hesder Yeshiva. Those who follow the blog know that a big chunk is devoted to the thought of great "Tziyoni" rabbonim such as Rav Kook, Rav Charlap, Rav Soloveitchik etc. 

I also chose for myself and my family to live in a Charedi neighborhood, to send my children to Charedi schools and my Rebbi is not associated with the Dati Leumi world [although he did attend Netiv Meir, a Yeshiva Tichonit, in his youth]. 

So I am cool with either way.