Proposal: Arrangement Which Meets Haredi Obligation Under Deuteronomy 20:8
Not To Serve In The IDF Which The Supreme Court Can Accept
Dr. Aaron Lerner 8 February, 2024
The Haredi community can most certainly justify their not serving in the IDF
on the basis of Deuteronomy 20:8, but that claim won't be accepted by our
There is, though, an arrangement which would.
A two-year program available to anyone age 18 who wants to engage in
intensive studies of any kind, which will not go towards a degree, who
qualifies physically to be a Rovai 03.
The two-year program would consist of intensive studies of ten hours a day.
Participants would verify their presence at the location of their studies
via a biometric "check in" at the start and end of each study day as well as
on a random basis through the course of the day. This can be done using the
same technology which was developed during COVID to monitor that people with
COVID remained in isolation.
Each participant would receive a stipend similar to the stipend received by
participants in National Service plus a voucher which they assign to the
institution where they are studying to cover their studies via monthly
Before studies, participants would undergo the four-month military training
to be a Rovai 03. Non-haredi participants would have this training via the
regular IDF system while Haredi participants would have the training in a
remote location having no women present with religious soldiers serving as
the training personnel. Meals would meet the strictest kashrut requirements
and ample time would be provided for prayers and daf yomi. For purposes of
convenience, the four months includes the bein hazmanim period.
For each year after the first year, participants would undergo additional
training instead of regular reserve duty. Non-haredi participants would do
this within the regular IDF framework while Haredi participants would do the
annual training during bein hazmanim at the same isolated facility where
they received their initial training.
This annual obligatory training would continue until participants reach the
age that a Rovai 03 is no longer required to serve reserve duty.
Participants can be called into emergency reserve duty (Tzav 8) for an
open-ended period of time like any other reserve soldier, where they risk
life and limb in the Haredi units which they have been training with.
And now the Q & A:
Question: Is it "fair" that the program participants only train each year
rather than serve in active duty?
Answer: There might have been a place before the war which started on
October 7th for this question, but now that so many reserve duty soldiers
have served months under Tzav 8 and many have lost life and limb, bearing
exposure to service as a Rovai 03 in a national emergency and preparing for
that day most certainly is acceptable service.
Question: What about Haredis who are either unwilling or physically unable
to participate in the program?
Answer: They would be subject to the regular draft under the law. But as
the law gives the final say to the IDF to decide who is fit to serve in the
IDF, the IDF would make the determination that just as the IDF has
determined that it does not want to draft Arabs into the IDF to serve who
don't want to serve, so too the IDF doesn't want to draft Haredis who don't
want to serve. The explanation for this decision would undoubtedly be
provided to the Supreme Court behind closed doors just as the IDF explained,
behind closed doors, why it doesn't draft Arabs.
Question: What would happen to a participant when they are sick and cannot
Answer: They would drag themselves out of bed and go to a designated clinic
like any soldier to get their waivers ("gimmelim").
Question: What would happen if a participant wants to participate in a
special family event rather then engage in studies for a block of time?
Answer: They would apply for a waiver from an administrator just as an IDF
soldier must receive permission to take off for a special family event.
Question: How would this program relate to the ongoing Government policy of
heavily subsidizing Haredis who choose a life of poverty while spending
over a billion shekels a year on educational programs which leave the
participants profoundly unskilled and thus unable to make a significant
contribution to the economy should they decide to work?
Answer: These problems are a function of the political power of the Haredi
community versus the determination of the rest of Israeli society to survive
and not within the purview of this program.
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