Biblical And Historical Precedents
For Resisting Army Service


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Resisting Orders To Fight In Order To Improve
The Conditions For Battle -The Precedent of Barak the son of Avinoam

In the Biblical book of Judges, chapter 4 when the Judge and Prophet Devorah [Debra] tells Barak the son Avinoam:
“Go to Mount Tavor and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naftali and the sons of Zvulun {Zebulon}. And I will draw to you, to the stream of Kishon, Sisera the Army Commander of Yavin together with his chariots and his huge multitude, and I will deliver him into your hands”.
Barak answers: “If you will go with me then I shall go and if you do not go with me, I won’t“.
That is to say, Barak in theory is willing to endanger himself to fight the wars of G-d, however, he demanded that the leadership would supply him with the best battle conditions possible for victory. While the leadership does not do its part for the sake of the victory, one may delay from going on our part.
Devorah answers that she agrees, but in your particular case there was no real military need to demand that I come, for in any case you would have succeeded, therefore, “surely it will not be for your glory the way on which you go, for in the hand of a woman, shall G-d give over {literally: sell} Sisera. Malbim on verse 8 there explains what was the reasoning of Barak:
He had no doubt about her prophecy and did not rebel against her word for one who rebels against the word of a prophet is liable to death. Rather, A] because the command was to draw to him ten thousand men, he said, that if she would not go with him, they will not believe him, and why go needlessly. B] After she informed him that they would fall by a miracle, he thought that his merit was not sufficient for a miracle such as this and just
if she would go, the miracle would be in her merit. And this is the wording of the Midrash: Rabbi Y. and Rabbi N. gave different explanations. Rabbi Y. said if you go to Kedesh I will go with you to Chatzor (this is as the
first explanation that she will go with him to gather the nation from Kedesh).
Rabbi N. said if you will go with me to sing a song of praise, I will go with you to the battle (this is as the second explanation that just in her merit would the song of praise be sung over the miracle)

Below: A Destroyed

Synagogue of Kfar Darom
of the Gush Katif Region
[Gaza Strip]


Reminder: During the
Second Lebanon War, Israel’s
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
stated: “that the results of the
war in the north will enable
him to advance his Convergence Plan on the West Bank”.

The Precedent of David
and Shaul {Saul}

In the days of Shaul, the king damaged national security in order to advance according to his warped outlook, his personal stature. That is to say that even though, David had killed tens of thousands of Philistines in contrast to the thousands that Shaul killed as explained in I Samuel 18:6, Shaul betrayed the trust of his outstanding general, a number of times and tried to kill him, with the warped thought that in this way he would prevent the punishment ordained by heaven, because he had mercy upon the cruel, upon Amalek.
David was forced to flee at the
end to the Philistines and to pretend as if he had crossed over
to the Philistine {Plishtim} side. When the Philistines gathered
for war against Israel as explained in I Samuel chapter 29, the
situation was a state of a war to save Israel from an adversary
coming against them and a war for the control over part of the land
of Israel. Therefore if the diehard state-loyalists were correct,
David would have had to forget all the evil that Shaul did to him in
the past and was planning against him in the future. He would have
had to ignore the fact that he would definitely lose his secure “house”
in the land of the Philistines, when he openly crossed over to aid
the side of Israel. He would have to ignore the fact that the danger
was close to suicide to fight in the back lines of the Philistines.
He would have to overlook the real possibility that even if he
won the battle Shaul might once again try to kill him.
However, in reality, David did not
make such a decision as the prophet testifies in verse 11:
And David rose up early, he and his
men to go in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines
and the Philistines rose up to Yizra’el.

3- High Ranking Officers in the
Attack the Readiness
of the I.D.F. to damage security for the sake of equality of the
{from a Hebrew article in B’Sheva}
Up With The Secularists For The Sake Of Battle – The Precedent
of Amatziah
– II Chronicles, chapter 25

Then Amatzyahu gathered Yehuda and established
for them according to the families as officers of thousands and
officers of hundreds for all of Yehuda and Binyamin and he counted
them from 20 years  and above and he found them to be three hundred
thousand choice men, able to go out to war, that could handle spear
and shield. Then he hired from Yisrael a hundred thousand warriors
for a hundred talents of silver. Yet a man of the L-rd came to him
saying, O king, let not the army of Yisrael go with you, for Hashem is
not with Yisrael, all the children of Ephraim. Nevertheless if you
do come this way with maximum force to the battle, the L-rd will make
you fail before the enemy; for the L-rd has the power to help and to
cause failure. Then Amatzyahu said to the man of the L-rd, and what should
be done about the hundred talents, which I have given to the troops of
Yisrael and the man of the L-rd, replied, Hashem has the ability to give
you much more than this. Then Amatzyahu separated them, namely the troops
that came to him from Ephraim for the sake of returning to their place
and they became very enraged against Yehuda and they returned to their
place with great wrath.
amona brutalityPolice Brutality at Amona
It Is More Important To Remove The Evil Government
From Israel Than Helping The Nation To Fight During A Time Of War
– The Precedent of Yehu the son of Yehoshafat the son of Nimshi,

II Kings, chapter 9

Then Yehu the son of Yehoshafat the son of Nimshi
conspired against Yoram while Yoram was guarding together with
all of Israel in Ramot Gilad on account of Hazael {Chazael}
the king of Aram. Then King Yehoram dwelled in Yizrael to heal
himself from the wounds, which the men of Aram inflicted against
him when he fought with Hazael the King of Aram. And Yehu
said, If this be your will, let no survivor leave the city to go and
report in Yizrael.

torah scroll
Though Jews Were Under Attack In England and Russia During the
First World War [That it to say, Their Situation Was a State of a War
to Save Israel from an Adversary Coming Against Them] Rabbi Avraham
Yitzchak Kook Helped Many Jews Evade Army service; that is to say that
there are conditions where the value of Army service is pushed aside
due to the damage caused by Army service
As brought in the book {in Hebrew} of Ephraim
Tzoref – The biography of Rabbi Kook, page 97:
“Yet not only in the boundary of Torah was he an
activist, but also within the boundary of the general Jewish public,
he brought about great things. Behold an evil decree from the British
Government was issued, namely, to send back to Russia all of her citizens.
Jewish youths that were returned to Russia were drafted into the Russian
Army. The danger of the Russian Fronts awaited thousands of Jewish
youths. The Rabbi stood in the breach and sent a memorandum to the relevant
British war ministry and stressed within it by use of national genius
and love of people, that he turns to the nation that values the Bible,
to fulfill the verse: “Do not extradite a slave to his master”. His
words were accepted and the decree was annulled. So too  he was
successful in his efforts to free all Yeshiva students in England from
Army service and supplied them with the certification of being a Rabbi.
Now when the cowards warned him of the heavy liabilities of this action,
Rabbi Kook responded among other things: “we will not retreat out of fear,
in the midst of fire we will go and we will not be burnt. Our purpose is
clear to us: to save the Jewish soul in this kingdom, which is suspended
by many strands upon the existence of the Yeshivas….”
However, one time Rabbi Kook was called
to the Central Headquarters of Police Detectives in London and was
sternly warned, that he should not grant large quantities of Rabbinical
Certificates, for by this he will prevent many from being drafted
and he brings an impediment to the war against the enemy. They even
threatened him, that if he continues to do this, they will summon him
to a military trial. The value of lives of the nation of Israel was
precious in Rabbi Kook’s view above all and he was ready at all times
to sacrifice himself on their account and he paid no attention to the
threats of the British Police and continued on in his activities; namely,
to protect Yeshiva students from the abolition of Torah study and
from danger to their lives and to protect the Yeshivas from destruction.

{end of quote}
And one should not claim that there
was no real danger from the Germans when Rabbi Kook exempted them
from military service, for on page 100 of the same book we learn:
“Now also they
continue to talk about the miracle that occurred in the London
Synagogue, during one day of bombardment during the First World
The government assigned bomb shelters
in some of the beautiful houses to protect against the bombs of
the planes. One of these houses stood close to the synagogue that
Rabbi Kook used for prayer. One time, in the middle of prayer, the
planes of the enemy attacked London. The bombs fell and exploded close
to the synagogue. The anti-Semitic house owner locked the door to the
nearby bomb shelter. The Rabbi commanded the congregation to return to
the synagogue and to intensify their prayer. It turned out that the
synagogue was saved together with all those that prayed in it, while
the house of the enemy of the nation of Israel received several bombs
and a number of people were killed there”.
Refusing Orders for the Sake of the Mitzva of Tzitzit
– from the B’Sheva Newspaper
article written on 30th of
Av 5766 [the story appears in Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s article] Displaying Tzizit in
the Army
 About a month ago
a group of students were drafted for army service. If in every
place there is a mitzva to display one’s Tzitzit so that they will
be seen on the outside, for it was stated (Number 15,39) “And you
shall see it and you shall remember all the commandments of Hashem
and you shall do them and you shall not go astray after your hearts and
after your eyes that you lust after them”; behold in the army, where in
this framework we are warned especially to guard ourselves from every
evil thing, the mitzva is doubled many times over.
And so too did the Shulchan Aruch
rule (O.C. 8:11): “The main mitzva of the small Talit {Talit Katan}
is to wear it over one’s clothes in order that it shall continually
be seen and he will remember the commandments”. However, in the name
of The Ari it was stated, that the place of the small Talit is to
be under the clothes. And many of the Jews of Sephardi origin are
accustomed based on this to hide even their Tzitzit (YCHV”D 2:1). However
the ‘Magen Avraham’ (8,13) explained that the intent was to hide the
garment however, the Tzitzit have to be displayed. Furthermore, in his
opinion, when the Tzitzit threads are not displayed there is a great
doubt if one fulfills the mitzva.
Our teacher and Rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda
Kook ZT”L, head of “Yeshivat Mercaz Harav”, would over and over
again repeat and recall the words of the ‘Magen Avraham’, that one
is required to display on the outside his Tzitzit, so that they will
be seen and by means of this, they will remember all the commandments.
Continuing on with this line of reasoning, he would teach his students
that one should be careful about displaying one’s Tzitzit in the army,
except for those situations where security requirements demand that
they be hidden.
The Case in Golani
For the bad luck of the students that were drafted
to the Golani {branch of the army}, the Major at “boot camp”
was religious. And now you already understand everything.
In the beginning they decreed upon them to put
their Tzitzit inside. They {the students} insisted to take them
out. Afterwards they decreed to wrap them around the belt. They
{the students} insisted to let  a greater length of the Tzitzit
be displayed. Even the chaplain {rabbi} of the army stood on the
side of the commander. However, from the Military Branch of the
Chief  Rabbinate, an order descended afterwards that permits
the display of Tzitzit in most cases.
The end result was that the seven youths were judged
for fourteen days of military confinement and one of them who
did not agree to be judged by a minor commander received a decree
of 21 days. However, they continue to display their Tzitzit. Also
other soldiers that were afraid at the beginning to display their Tzitzit
began to display them. Praised be you who were caught on account of
matters of Torah
{end of quote}.
In my opinion, if it is already permissible
to struggle for the sake of the Tzitzit [even at the time of
war] it is permissible to struggle for the sake of saving our
brothers, who are going to die because of the Christian Morality
of “Purity of Arms”.
What do I mean by the “Purity of Arms”?
An example of this is the statement by Cabinet Minister Avi Dichter
of Ehud Olmert’s government that was quoted by the left wing Haaretz
news {in Hebrew} on the internet on Tuesday the 21st of Av 5766,
{Secular Date August 15, 2006}.
“To what extent is the government
involved with the question of morality when it grants permission
to military operations?”

Hizbullah / Hezbolla

 “Dichter: In not a small amount of the discussions
of the government, the dilemma is until what point do we untie
the rope and give the I.D.F. a free hand. I will give you an example,
namely, the operation of Marines {or Navy} Unit 13 in Tyre. You
have no idea what type of danger there was in this operation. There
was there a building many stories high with 80 apartments and 400
The intent was to attack about 20 terrorists there.
A one-ton bomb would destroy
the building and the 400 civilians would be killed. It is clear to
me that the U.S.A., England, and Russia would have done this. But I
am very proud that the I.D.F. did not think of this option. I have no
doubt that in the long run this approach keeps us human. In the day that
we turn into animals then we will also act as animals. To my personal
happiness , in this topic we preserve the human image. There is no asset
more valuable than the human image

In contrast to Avi Dichter, Moshe
{Moses} had a very different moral ideal.

   “Now Moshe was intensely angry at
the officers of the army, namely, the Commanders of thousands and the Commanders
of hundreds, that came back from the army that had engaged in
the war. Now Moshe said to them, have you kept alive all the females.
Behold they were by the counsel of Bi’laam a cause for making Israel
transgress in the matter of Pe’or and the plague struck against the
congregation of Hashem. And now kill all the young males and every
woman who has gone to bed with a man you shall kill. And all the youngest
female children  that have not known the bed of a man you shall
keep alive for yourselves.” 
{Numbers Chapter 31; also
see Rabbi Elitzur Segel’s article in Tzipia Volume 3 where he brings
many halachic sources to show that it would be permissible for a Jewish
army to blow up a building that has a mixture of terrorists and enemy civilians
within it.}

7 The
Precedent of Messiah

In the letters of the Rambam {Maimonides}
printed by Mossad Harav Kook after his letter to Teiman {Iggeret
Teiman} [page 191] a short history by the Rambam on the Messianic
movements is brought.
“I will tell you about the events
that occurred after the Yishmaelite {Islamic} kingdom stood, and
from this you will receive benefit. After these events it happened
that in the east of Isfahan (in Persia) there appeared a big mass
of Jews, hundreds of thousands, and at their head was a man that
considered himself to be the Messiah. They wore weapons of war, drew
their swords and killed all that stood against them. At the end they
reached as it became known to me to the outskirts of Baghdad. This
occurred during the Omayed Dynasty. The king (that is to say Caliph)
said to the Jews of his land: let their sages speak to these people
and if it be true what they say, and that this man (clearly) is the one
that they are awaiting (the Messiah) we will make a peace treaty with
them under any conditions that you want; but if the matter is false – I
will fight them. All the sages went out to them. These men said: “we are
from the district across the river” (that is to say Sambatyon). The sages
asked them: “why have you arisen (against the government)? They replied
to them: “this man here is known to be pious and honorable, and he is
from the offspring of the house of David. It was known that he was inflicted
with the plague of Tzaraat and that he went to sleep one night and in
the morning he rose up healthy and in perfect shape”. Howbeit this is
one of the signs of the Messiah, for they claim that this is the intention
of the verse about the Messiah “plagued and smitten by the L-rd and inflicted”
(Yishayahu {Isaiah 53,4}: namely, that he will be plagued with Tzaraat.
But the sages explained to them that this explanation is not correct
and that this man is lacking some of the aspects of the Messiah, if
not all of them. Then the sages added by reprimanding them: “our brothers,
until now you are still near to your land and you have the opportunity
to return, but if you remain here any more in this country – all of you
will die, and you will also nullify the words of Moshe (Rabbeinu, that
is to say the designated ends of the Torah), for the masses will believe
that the Messiah already appeared and he was conquered. Behold there is
no prophet among you and you have no wondrous sign”! These men at the end
accepted the words of the sages and the Sultan (that is to say the Caliph)
gave them a present of several thousand Dinars so that they could return
home. But after they were already distant and on the way back to their places
of origin, the Sultan began to act aggressively towards the Jews and punished
them on account of all what he was forced to spend on their account. He
decreed upon them that they would carry special signs upon their clothes
and to write on their wardrobe the word, “CURSED” and to go in the streets
with clothes that have iron attached to their backs and upon their chests.
From that time onward all the congregations of Kursan and Isfahan (districts
in Persia) are in bitter exile until this day. All this has become known
to us by a story recounted orally.
Here I judge both the sages and the
soldiers of the Messiah for the benefit of
the doubt. I judge the sages as having acted in an acceptable manner
based on the Radbaz to Mishna Torah, Hilchot Melachim 11:3; see there
for details.
And I also judge the soldiers of the
Messiah as having acted in an acceptable way, for
in the end, there was a reasonable chance by natural means to win
in the war. And to quote from Rabbi Meir Kahane, Ohr Haraayon,
page 394: “behold the task and the obligation of one of Israel, is to
sanctify the name of heaven {G-d} and to bring to the world the understanding
that Hashem is the L-rd, there is no other beside him”. And he who
expresses distaste about his obligation and ignores this task and this
yoke in an intentional way, out of fear, and allows the faulty religions
to rule the word, desecrates the name of heaven and is a partner in
the insult and degradation of the Holy One Blessed be He. {end of quote}
Now it seems to me that the Sultan
(Caliph) would not have acted so generously to the soldiers of
the Messiah if not for the fact that he thought there was a
reasonable possibility that he would lose.


by Mr. Shlomo Moshe Scheinman (the author of an article on Argaman that
appeared in Techumin, Volume 26)



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2007 [ 5767 in the Jewish Calendar]