Category Archives: Archives 5771

Tishrei 5771 – Girls Being Mekarev Boys

Tishrei 5771
Girls Being M’kareiv Boys

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,
I have become quite involved with several kiruv organizations – and it has come up a few times – that there have been boys who want to learn with me. Am I allowed to do that? If so, how? What do I say to them? How would I set it up?

Thank you,
name withheld

Dear Friend,

This is a common problem in the field of kiruv. When a person chooses to reach out there is a price to pay. As Reb Yisroel Salantar says “the broom that sweeps gets dirty”. I have a shiur called “The Perils of Kiruv Rechokim” where I go into this in greater detail.

One of the biggest problems we face is overestimating our own importance. We think we are the only one who can inspire this person. I once shared a chiddush with a person in kiruv – “there is a G-d”. He thought I was joking, but I explained that he was working with the underlying assumption that Hashem has made a big mess of things and now if He will just get out of our way we will try to fix things up.

Rav Moshe Shapiro once explained that Hashem has decided to bring back a part of klal yisroel. Our job is to try not to interfere – the exact opposite attitude.

So your situation has come up a lot – there is a boy who only wants to talk to me otherwise he won’t become frum. I once told a young lady (somewhat indelicately I admit) that the Canaanites offered women as an incentive to men to attend temple, but it has never been a Jewish ideal.

Don’t sell yourself for the cause. You have an obligation to stay true to your own principles. If you would not normally socialize with a guy, don’t do it for the sake of heaven. In therapy it is possible to transfer a patient over to another therapist, even though the patient has a strong connection to the original practitioner. In Kiruv it is no less effective. You can say something like “I’m not learned enough to answer these questions, but I know someone who is more qualified”. Or “with my schedule I can’t do justice to what you need”. If you are at a shabbaton, call over a male advisor when the two of you are talking and make it a threesome. Then it is easier for you to excuse yourself.

Many times I have heard “Nah, that won’t work for this guy” and you may be right. Because it could be that he is more interested in you than in Judaism.

Hatzlacha and may you have siyata D’Shmaya in your holy efforts.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

Cheshvan 5771 – Going to the Israeli Army

Cheshvan 5771
Going to the Israeli Army

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,
I have been living and working in Eretz Yisroel now for 4 years, and have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Jews from all sectors. One of my coworkers identifies herself as Dati Leumi and I have shared with her in various scares as her brothers, husband, and extended family members have served in the army. Often she has shared her pain over the charedi unwillingness to join the army. I don’t understand why it is right for young men who are capable not to serve to protect the Jewish people. Isn’t it a matter of pikuach nefesh, and even possibly a milchemes mitzvah? In fact, in tanach it is only the righteous who would go out to war. If that is the case, shouldn’t the yeshiva bochurim hae an even greater responsibility? If the boys want to continue learning, there are several army programs that cater to such boys. My friends brothers are in hesder. It is a matter of responsibility for every member of the nation to do their part. How can I understand the seeming shirking of duty?

Thank you,
Name Withheld

Dear Friend,

There is no question that the issue of army service and those who don’t participate is a highly emotionally charged one. There is a rule – you can’t answer emotion with logic. As long as the question is asked with phrases like “shirking of duty” then there is no answer that I can give.

Therefore if you want an answer, whether you decide to accept it or not, stop making assumptions. You have to be open minded enough to see both sides or dialogue is impossible.

Let’s start at the beginning. Based on your letter you are asking from a religious perspective. If a person is not religious, then there is another approach to take. But your assumption seems to be based on your religious understanding, i.e. milchamas mitzva, et al. So let’s start there.

If you are familiar with the writings of such luminaries as the Chazon Ish, Reb Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, Reb Eliyashuv, Rav Shach, the Steipler Gaon, the Brisker Rav, to name a few, then you know that these are Torah scholars whose Torah knowledge are unsurpassed. their writings are being learnt in yeshivas across the world and presembaly will for centuries to come. They are also familiar with the concept of milchamas mitzva and the other halachic obligations a Jew has to the Jewish people.

All of these ‘Greats’ encouraged b’nei yeshivos to sit and learn full time instead of going to the army or joining a part time learning program like hesder. Rav of Kerem B’Yavne, founded the hesder program and made it clear that it was for the boys who couldn’t learn full time. The full time learners were encouraged to sit and learn and not go to the army. Mercaz HaRav has a ten year deferment program for boys who are learning full time and are encouraged not to go to the army.

So with a respectful attitude let us attempt to understand the mind of these Torah giants.

The basic problem is summed up by the following line “I don’t understand why it is right for young men who are capable not to serve to protect the Jewish people.” Namely, that the people who are learning Torah aren’t doing anything worthwhile. Only people who wear a uniform and carry a gun are doing anything worthwhile to protect the Jewish people. How sad! There was a time when all the Jewish people understood as Rashi tells us at the beginning of the Torah “The world was created only so that the Jews can learn Torah” The Vilna Gaon explains this concept by saying that if for one moment there weren’t Jews learning Torah the world would return to null and void.

The IDF has enjoyed what maybe military strategists consider to be supernatural success. Where does that power come from? The Jewish people have always understood that – from the people learning Torah. That is why shevet Levi were exempt from military service and as the Rambam explains, anyone who learns Torah full time today has a din of shevat Levi.

How sad that elements of the Jewish people have fallen so far from our tradition that we value a gun more than a sefer! If there were no one else to fight, that would be a different story. But no one is claiming there aren’t enough soldiers. rather they are bothered that these b’nei yeshuiva aren’t in the army. As though the learning of Torah itself has no value, chas v’shalom!

So the next time you share your friends travails about her loved ones, be thankful that there are Jews learning Torah to protect them.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky