Sofer Case Means Draft Haredim

(Hat tip MD)


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

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.

4 thoughts on “Sofer Case Means Draft Haredim”

  1. Regardless of whether Charedim should or shouldn’t be drafted – the point being made by the esteemed writer has no halachic validity. Why would Rav Shteinman order Mir students out of the yeshiva and into the forests? halachah says מפקחין עליו את הגל – a ruling precisely relevant to a *de facto* פיקוח נפש.

    Why Yeshivah students? “הזריז משובח, והנשאל מגונה, והשואל הרי זה שופך דמים”


  2. The point I’m making is that purely from a halachic standpoint there’re no grounds to equate the two. Whereas opinions vary regarding what qualifies as a מלחמת מצוה – there’s a widespread agreement that the Sofer story constituted a ספק פקו”נ.

    Whilst on the topic of מלחמת מצוה: the notion that every male of military age is needed for combat is untrue. Historically, we find in תנ”ך the concept of תופשי המלחמה as compared to יושבים על הכלים. From my understanding, many charedim volunteer at the home front in times of war. There are documented accounts that during the wars of 48 and 67 Yeshivah students were helping create sand barricades etc.


    1. Please. This is a valiant attempt, but there is little doubt that a) this was a milchemes mitzvah and b) they are opposed to going if asked. Now, square that off with the current case and you have no halachic legs


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