There’s that moment in every good thriller, when the detectives catch up with the main suspect. They ask a question, and he lies without batting an eyelid. Eventually, when they throw the truth in his face and inform him that he must accompany them to the police station, the suspect always says: “But I have an urgent errand to run. Who will take care of it?” The detective then responds: “Let’s just say this is the least of your problems.”
It’s the same thing here: The IDF’s preparations to take in tens of thousands of haredi soldiers are the least of our problems at this time. After we manage to correct a 63-year-old distortion and overcome rabbis willing to give their lives for the Torah (as well as excitable haredi youngsters ready to hurl dirty diapers at police), the time will come when we have to explain some facts of life to our daughters.
I am personally familiar with one female soldier serving in an IDF base somewhere in Israel. Some 10 haredi soldiers serve there too and perform the exact same function she does. They are presented with the same briefings and follow the exact same orders. Yet she doesn’t even know their names, because there is no contact whatsoever between them.
At this time already, the IDF invests huge efforts in meeting all its obligations vis-à-vis the haredim and produces the kind of world they can live in, within the military. Yet any logical person realizes that applying these efforts to tens of thousands of soldiers will leave the IDF devoid of all its values as a “popular army.”
Years will pass before yeshiva students turn into soldiers, and I am not only referring to their halachic tendency to stay away from females. They must undergo physical training, their identity as soldiers who believe in what they are doing must be forged, and they must be turned into an integral part of the public that bears the national burden.
The politicians and protestors calling for haredi enlistment into the IDF should realize that having the haredim sign up for national service is good enough. The IDF would be able to cope with a new reality only if it takes shape gradually. Huge numbers of haredi soldiers will overwhelm the army and leave most of our aims unfulfilled.