A litmus test for Shules regarding the IDF vs Torah study issue

[Please note: I will keep this list updated as information comes in]


Phew. I’m physically wasted. Baruch Hashem, our daughter was married last night, and apart from the usual responsibilities of being the “father of the bride” and all that goes with it, I sang and danced during the evening with my great band, Schnapps. That’s not an advertisement. They were simply magnificent last night.

Someone drew my attention to an interesting point which then had me think of the following hypothetical:

If you received an Aliya on Shabbos, and asked the Gabbay to make a Misheberach for Tzahal (Tzva Hagana L’Yisrael) what would the different attitudes be in different Orthodox Shules. I will list those that I believe will have and do have no problem with such a benign (Zionistically speaking) request (and donation)

  • Elwood
  • Caulfield
  • Mizrachi
  • South Caulfield
  • St. Kilda
  • Kew
  • Brighton
  • Ohel Dvora
  • Yeshiva
  • Da Minyan
  • Moorabbin Shule
  • HaMerkaz Shelanu (Rabbi Liberow)
  • SpiritGrow

I do not know what the attitude would be at the following Shules. I accept of course that there may be differing practices within, say, some Chabad Houses

  1. Rabbi Kohn’s Shule
  2. Russian Chabad Shule (FREE)
  3. Central Chabad
  4. Chabad Sephardi Shule
  5. Glen Eira Chabad
  6. Malvern Chabad
  7. East Brighton Chabad
  8. Other Chabad Houses
  9. Rabbi Donnenbaum’s Heichal HaTorah
  10. Rabbi Berlin’s Shule
  11. Rabbi Wurtzberger’s Lakewood Kollel Beth HaTalmud

Perhaps readers can enlighten me on these and any that I inadvertently forgot. I haven’t mentioned Adass yet. I will relay, though, a true occurrence which was at a public gathering of prayer which might shed light on their view.

During the time when those three Charedi Yeshivah Bochurim were arrested and incarcerated in Japan, Adass organised a public gathering to say Tehillim to beseech God to release those boys. At that public gathering, it was suggested (quite vocally) that since Gilad Shalit was incarcerated by Hamas in Gazastan, that he also be included in the Tefillos. I’m advised that the response was like

You can organise your own Tehillim if you want to daven for him

If this is true, it’s an outrageous view. Now, I know this isn’t a universally held opinion. Adass certainly has various categories of views and it’s quite remarkable that those views can co-exist in the one place, however, if Adass President Binyomin Koppel could enlighten  the official view about such a Misheberach, I would be obliged.

Certainly, I have been at Chabad Shules, notably Yeshivah where special Tehillim is said for Israel when it faces many of its challenges.

I raise this because if a Shule does not allow a Misheberach or special Tehillim or similar for Tzahal, then, frankly, I do not want to hear about their special Torah learning protecting the Chayalim. It’s incongruous, is it not?

Similar questions could be asked in respect of Jewish Schools and their allowable activities.

picture from Haaretz

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

15 thoughts on “A litmus test for Shules regarding the IDF vs Torah study issue”

  1. BS”D

    You forgot Rabbi Greenbaum at Moorabbin Shule. I would’ve thought that Spiritgrow would allow a Mishebeyrekh for Tzahal as its part of R.Leibel Wolfs egalitarianism.

    I think you already know the answer at Adass Yisroel.


  2. You really ought to do better research before publishing two lists in this way. Yeshivah main shul would not have an issue with such a mishebeirach, and DaMinyan make one every week as a matter of course, as do Hamerkaz Shelanu.

    That aside, I question the merits of a divisive “litmus test” like this. What do you hope to achieve with such a thing?


    1. David, as you can see I have updated the post. In terms of what I want to achieve, I would like things OUT IN THE OPEN.
      Basically, we can all pretend, but if you are a Shule that DISALLOWS a Misheberach for the IDF then you are either anti-Torah, because the Torah tells us that there needs to be an army and that army should certainly merit your Tefillos and Bakashos, or you are anti Zionist to such an extreme that you equate Soldiers with (Chas V’Shalom) Reshoim (evil doers) then it changes the ENTIRE face of a Tefillo to support Torah as an adjunct to Army Service by others. You see, the others, really don’t exist of figure and it becomes a lesson in ingenuity, which some of the signers of the said letter should have realised. I’d like to hear from Adass about Gilad Shalit. Was he important enough for Pidyon Shvuyim Tefillos? What about Beis Hatalmud and Rabbi Donenbaum and Berlin? Do they allow someone to make on a normal Shabbos, a Misheberach for Tzahal? If not WHY not? Let’s get it out in the open and clear. Everyone is entitled to their views and we can agree to disagree, but no more mushrooms. State your views, and state them on the record.


      1. This looks a bit like Rabbi Kennard’s recent attempts to get unequivocal answers on Chabad Rabbis’ position vis a vis Religious Zionism – apparently in the pursuit of truth, justice and the American way.
        It could well be that most people who attend the shuls still in your second list don’t really care about this issue, in which case it’s a non-issue.


        1. I agree, except that I believe some apart from Adass are certainly not comfortable with this style of Tfilla or Misheberach. I predict they will stay quiet, so perhaps some of the Mizrachi or ex Mizrachi style people who attend these Shules should test the water? I remember Mr Hoppe on his Bar Mitzvah in Alexander before the war made a Misheberach for Keren Kayemet and the Gabbay slapped him in public. The Alexander Rebbe used to stay at his house in Tomashov when he passed through.


          1. It’s up to those who may be uncomfortable to directly ask those questions of their local shuls, rather than people with a general/communal interest in the issue to ‘demand’ that all shuls/Rabbis openly and explicitly share their specific beliefs.
            The latter is a bit like industry regulation, e.g. telecomms providers must now all publish various policies and T&Cs in easy to reach places on their web sites. You’re almost asking all shuls to have a sign out the front saying “We believe in this and that, we allow this and that, and we don’t allow this or that. Entry is conditional on your accepting these terms.”


        2. “It could well be that most people who attend the shuls still in your second list don’t really care about this issue, in which case it’s a non-issue”.

          There are many issues which most people who attend various shuls don’t care about – kashrut, taharat ha-mishpacha, messianism – to name but three. But that doesn’t make them non-issues.


          1. I find myself in full agreement with Rabbi Kennard and with Isaac. Surely, if tfilot and learning of the chareidi community are meant to protect Israel’s soldiers, they should allow-no, encourage- prayers and learning in their merit?

            Now, that’s not to say that we need a survey of all shules. However, for those who are arguing that there is a ‘split burden’ of learning on one hand, and fighting on the other, it would seem appropriate to determine whether they are indeed upholding their end of the bargain.


    2. The Yeshivah main shul would not have an issue with a mishebeirach for the soliders, their problem is, that a mishebeirach for the soliders may lead to a mishebeirach for the state.


      1. I carefully worded it for Tzahal. I do not expect all Shules to be pro messianic prayers for the State. That being said, I still don’t understand Shules that don’t pray for the welfare of the country they live in!


        1. Why should they pray for the country? At least in the Russian Empire it was well known by everyone that הנותן תשועה למלכים was printed in the siddur for the censor’s benefit, but it was only said in the big shuls where the Czar had spies. It was never said in small shtiblach. Now that we don’t live in fear of the government and its spies, there is no reason to say it. I understand that those whose ancestors lived in the Austro-Hungarian empire have a different tradition, because the Jews loved Franz-Josef and prayed for him willingly (and later suffered for it, since the goyim all hated him).


  3. Almost all Charedim-including satmar-say special Tehillim when there are those challenges in israel. Also, whenever blood is needed for soldiers at those times, the aguda yeshivos(who most of adass are aligned with) bochurim all who are able give blood. I have been there and seen it.


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