Wednesday, December 26, 2012

An incredible Kiddush Hashem

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for maternal boasting. Proceed at your own risk.

Due to various and sundry real life endeavors, I wasn’t able to write the traditional fast day food post on Sunday. Hopefully, however, THIS post will more than make up for my blogging lapse, because I think you’ll agree that it’s highly appropriate for the week of Assarah B’Tevet.

About a month after the CTO began his military service, he was traveling home from his base and found himself sitting next to another soldier from his unit.

They started talking, and during the course of their conversation, the soldier shared a wonderful story with the CTO.

As it so happens, this particular solider comes from a non-observant home and considers himself to be completely secular. (Although the unit in question was a hesder unit, there were a few secular soldiers there as well.)

Furthermore, in what can be taken as an unfortunate commentary on Israeli society, the soldier had apparently had very little direct contact with Orthodox Jews of any stripe.

Indeed, his impressions of his religious countrymen were largely gleamed from the media and basically consisted of stereotyped images of rock-throwing fanatics.

Thus, on the first day of basic training (i.e. tironut, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you), when he noticed that most of the other new recruits were not only religious but yeshiva guys (i.e. beinesh”im, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) to boot, he got very nervous.

Panicked, he approached the commanders and requested that they transfer him to a unit with, in his words, “fewer kippot.”

But the commanders brushed him off with a dismissive “we’ll see what we can do,” and the soldier saw that he had no choice but to deal with his predicament.

So, he settled into army life and waited for the anticipated missionizing and religious coercion to begin.

Except that nothing happened.

In fact, as he admitted to the CTO during their ride home a month after their induction, he realized that he had been very wrong about the CTO and his fellow Torah scholars/soldiers.

They never tried to shove their beliefs down his throat.
They never looked down at him.
They never acted as if they thought they were better than him.
And at no point did they try to force him to do anything.

Instead, he said, the hesdernikim proved to be a group of nice, friendly, and nonjudgmental guys.

When the CTO got home and told us this beautiful story, YZG and I were amazed and, BA”H, incredibly proud.

Sadly, different sectors of Israel’s population don’t always have a chance to meet, and as a result, we are often left with false impressions.

Therefore, IMHO, the CTO and his friends caused an incredible Kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of Hashem’s Name), because thanks to them, the soldier now equates being a ben Torah with being a mensch.

“’ואהבת את ה' אלהיך.’ - שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך… מה הבריות אומרות עליו? אשרי אביו שלמדו תורה, אשרי רבו שלמדו תורה. אוי להם לבריות שלא למדו תורה. פלוני שלמדו תורה ראו כמה נאים דרכיו, כמה מתוקנים מעשיו. עליו הכתוב אומר: ‘ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר.’”
(יומא פ”ו.)

“‘And you shall love Hashem, your God.’ (Devarim 6:5) - [You must ensure] that the Name of Heaven shall become beloved through you… What do people say about him? Fortunate is his father who taught him Torah; fortunate is his teacher who taught him Torah. Woe onto those people who did not learn Torah. Ploni – who learned Torah – see how pleasant are his ways; how refined are his deeds. Regarding him it says, ‘And He said to me, you are My servant, Yisrael, in whom I take glory.’ (Yeshaya 49:3)”
(BT Yoma 86a)

May we all be privileged to reach out with love to our Jewish brothers and sisters and to bring achdut (unity) to Am Yisrael.


  1. Beautiful story. And, amen. -Yaffa

  2. wonderful story
    I think that's what the chiloni leaders are afraid of. They don't want their kids to discover the truth.

  3. How nice ... I could something trite like "don't judge a book by it's cover" or whatever, but what it really amounts to is your son and his friends are great representatives for Am Yisrael.

  4. A sweet validation (yet again) of Hesder education. This is the sort of thing Rav Lichtenstein wrote about in his essay The Ideology of Hesder. And there is much of it out there. Although not a Hesdernik, I ran into many such incidents over the years. Your son will see this again during his years in the reserves. What's more, it happens many times when we don't see it or someone doesn't say anything.

    May Hashem bless him and all his colleagues with great success in their learning, in their soldiering when need be, and with true kirvat E-lokim.

  5. Yaffa - Thanks and shavua tov!

    Batya - Sadly, I sometimes think that the same thing can perhaps be said about a few leaders from other sectors as well...

    Leora - BA"H, we're very proud of him and his friends!

    Mordechai Y. Scher - Amen and beautifully said! As my son's Rosh Yeshiva explained, hesder is לכתחילה, not בדיעבד.

  6. the opposite perspective can be drawn. if this was a lubavich unit , tfillin would have been on him by the 1st lunchtime. this can be seen as the lack of theologic seriousness in the mitzzvot of hochacha and areivus

  7. Anonymous -- Speaking of tochachah, I must say that I was offended by your comment, which was motzi shem ra about the hesdernikim. They are tzadikim who have literally dedicated their lives to Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael and are extremely serious about all the mitzvot, including areivut.

    In any event, the hesdernikim certainly don't need me or anyone else to defend them. But you should know that a significant number of so-called secular soldiers not only joined the beinish"im for davening on Shabbat and even during the week (including getting up early for Slichot during Elul!), but also sat with the hesdernikim as they sung Shabbat zemirot and had a beautiful oneg Shabbat.

  8. And what kind of story would the soldier have told if he had been in a unit where they tefillin on him by lunchtime? What impressed him was the lack of over missionizing, the fact that shem shomayim was misahev because of their just being who they were. I agree, Anon seems to have the wrong twist on this.

  9. (Whoops. that should have been overt missionizing)


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