Combining Torah and military service
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Less than a week before the Tal Law is revoked, on Thursday, the Netzah Yehuda haredi battalion, which was established 13 years ago because of the soon to be cancelled law, saw the enlistment of its August 2012 class.
Dozens of haredim and religious men arrived at the IDF recruitment centers to join the battalion which is considered the largest in the IDF. The current class has a record number of enlisters; 200 compared with 170 last year.
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The haredi recruits were soon lost among the hundreds of Paratrooper Brigade recruits who were also enlisting on Thursday.
Preparing to say goodbye to civilian life
The new recruits from the Netzah Yehuda battalion spoke to Ynet and the prevailing opinion among them is: Torah is just as important as IDF service and those who can sit and study Torah should do so, but if that is not possible, it is only right to put on the IDF uniform.
Omer Ben Ezra from Petah Tikva studied at the yeshiva in Ariel he arrived at the recruitment center accompanied by his parents and grandmother: "The yeshiva rabbi told me that I could combine Torah studies and military service."
Ben Ezra also supports the enlistment of more haredim: "I'm in favor of enlisting 2,000 haredim rather than 200. Military service will give them (haredim) a lot and everything they studied in yeshiva will come into play in their military service.
"Those who don't enlist just get stuck. It is a desecration of God's name to get an exemption when you aren't really studying in yeshiva."
His mother added: "This is the fourth of our sons to enlist. We grew up in a Zionist country and if King David had an army, we should have one too. (Military) service and Torah should go together."
Binyamin Arazi from Elad was at the center to see his son, Amram, enlist. He believes that "My son's going to the army isn't about pride. Those who find it hard to study should enlist. And for those haredim who don't study and don't enlist, the Military Police should treat them like draft dodgers."
Meanwhile, the Paratrooper Brigade recruits found it hard to hide their anger over the draft dodging trend. Yotam from Kochav Yair said that "those who don't enlist are ingrates who don't deserve what they get (from the State)."
Oz from Ramat Gan was at the recruitment center with his friends, watching the haredi new recruits arrive he said: "It is strange to see haredim go into the recruitment centers and continue on buses (to bases) instead of making a U-turn with their exemptions. I hope the day comes when their numbers will be bigger, that it will be taken for granted."