Rabbi Lau: Large number of religious troops not to be ignored
Former chief rabbi praises skullcap-wearing IDF soldiers who are prominent in number in combat units, among wounded. 'Education for loving country and homeland and utmost value of sanctity of life are bearing fruit,' he says. On same token, however, Lau urges avoiding sectoral view of army
In a conversation with Ynet, Rabbi Lau noted that this phenomenon is also seen in the high number of skullcap-wearing soldiers who were wounded in battle in recent years. However, he emphasized that "we do not need to speak in terms of this sector or another when it comes to the military."
"One cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the IDF's elite units, such as the various reconnaissance units, have respectable numbers of graduates of the Zionist-religious education, a place that was previously occupied by the sons of the kibbutz movement," claimed Rabbi Lau. "This is reflected both in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Cast Lead where the yeshiva and pre-military religious program graduates stand out more and more in the elite units."
The rabbi added, "There is no doubt that the education towards love of country and homeland alongside the utmost value of the sanctity of life are now bearing fruit."
Though these numbers are certainly discernable, the Tel Aviv chief rabbi emphasized that the all IDF soldiers belong to one unit and must function as a "unified crushing punch," and therefore should not be viewed as coming from different sectors.
"The military, in its essence, has an additional mission besides defending the country and its citizens, which is to act as a cross section of the intermingling of the exiles in that people from 104 different communities have gathered here. There is no connection between the various Diasporas like the IDF. Therefore, we mustn't speak in terms of this sector or another when it comes to the military," Rabbi Lau elaborated.
Rabbi Lau noted that the religious soldiers themselves do not pay much attention to the issue, "The fact is that graduates of pre-military religious programs are not organized into separate units, but are mixed throughout the IDF framework and in the most elite units."
The rabbi told of how he took action in the past to establish and expand the pre-military religious programs and gained authorization for religious youth to delay military service by one to two years in order to provide pupils with a Torah education prior to volunteering to combat units.
"Today, looking back, I can only boast about the expectations we had for these wonderful youth," said the rabbi. "We are very proud of their contribution to the defense of the nation and the country in the spirit of Jewish heritage."