Law and Orders Instead of Morals

“Honorable Men”

Three years ago, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, upon the recommendation of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, decided to terminate the ‘Hesder’ program in Yeshiva Har Bracha. Thus, the Yeshiva became a ‘yeshiva gevoha’ (an advanced yeshiva), devoid of a means for the students to combine army service with their Torah studies. Why? Only because I voiced my Torah-based opinion that a soldier who receives an order to expel a Jew from his house in the Land of Israel should refuse the order.

This is not the place to explain the validity of this position. Nevertheless, even one who disagrees with it, believing that a soldier must fulfill such an order, and if not, should be punished – at the very least, he should respect this position, seeing as it is the position of ‘Gedolei Torah’ (eminent Torah scholars), my Rabbi’s, who I am simply attempting to continue in their path.

When the uppermost security echelon tries to impose its position, determining what a Rabbi can or cannot say, basically, they resolve that they possess all the truth and morality, and a Rabbi has no freedom to think or express himself. Such an attitude is intolerable towards any human being – let alone a Rabbi, whose job requires him to express a Torah-based position according to the best of his knowledge, and without bias.

However, Barak and Ashkenazi presented themselves as the bearers of the flag of morality, Zionism, and the law, and in its name, decided to revoke the ‘Hesder’ option from Yeshiva Har Bracha. In wake of the publication of the State Comptroller’s report concerning the ‘Harpaz affair’, it turns out that the same uppermost security echelon itself acted with unparalleled corruption, and hence, the “quality of their judgment” and the “purity of intention” in their lofty speech against us, has become clear. The ‘Harpaz affair’ occurred in the months following the removal of Yeshiva Har Bracha from the ‘Hesder’ program.

A Corrupt Moral Infrastructure

When the moral infrastructure is corrupt, there is no choice but to clutch to the formal law regarding having to carry out orders. Therefore, it is no surprise that specifically those who are themselves corrupt, who are willing to risk national security in order to promote their own interests, using all methods of falsehood, forgery, fraud, and incitement – made such an effort to preach about the duty of obeying the law and fulfilling orders. From their perspective, this is the moral straw they clutch to, in order to give some value to their jobs. Even Col. Erez Weiner, the assistant to the Chief of Staff, claimed in his own defense that all the borderline criminal activities he was suspected of performing, was done under order, and therefore, he is guiltless. The State Comptroller, however, was not convinced by this bizarre argument, but rather, recommended that the Attorney General open an extensive criminal investigation against all those involved.

“Orders” cannot purify the vermin of corruption, just as it cannot purify the expulsion of Jews from their land simply because they are Jews. Let alone when such an order is given to soldiers who enlisted in the army in order to protect their nation and country, and not to fight their own brothers and sisters; even the most fundamental military commands do not permit the use of troops against its own citizens. If we had a normal court of law, they would defend the soldiers from such immoral orders, and also defend citizens from discrimination on the basis of their being Jewish.

A person whose value system is hallow, is unable to distinguish between refusing an order to fight the enemy, an act which damages the essential military infrastructure, and refusing an order to expel his own people, which expresses a higher level of conscience, seeing as it is a refusal of an order that must not be imposed on a soldier in a democratic, moral state.

The Roots of Corruption

This corruption did not start with these individuals – the fact is that almost all of the General Staff were involved, directly or indirectly, in all the episodes of deceit and mutual harassment. The corruption began with the gnawing-away of the moral recognition of the Jewish nation’s right to its land, and the duty of the army to protect its people and country, and to strike and defeat those who rise against it.

When the revised goal of the top military leadership is not to fight the enemy, but to advance the “peace” process, together with members of bloodshed and deceit, world-class terrorists like Arafat and his cronies – then, all notions of good and evil are jumbled; morality and justice are replaced with the values of blind obedience to orders. Instead of defeating the enemy, the current goal is to please the media and world’s political leaders. Praise from Western leaders is more important than the country’s security, and settling the Land. Thus, concepts such as “victims of peace” are created, while “peace” is only written about in the newspapers, but the victimsare buried in the cemetery.

Without real vision and values, career advancement in the army and in civilian life has become the main purpose of the senior officers. To this end, it is better not to initiate any military actions, not to take any pre-emptive operations against the enemy, to participate in deceiving the public about the hallucinations of future peace, and to promote a secular agenda in the army because, currently, they believe this will advance them further. And when a security operation does occur, their main goal is to ensure that they come out of the commission of inquiry unscathed, and if there is guilt, to make sure it falls on the head of the lowly guard at the gate, who just happened to be there by mistake.

We are left with the consolation of all those exemplary people, the soldiers and junior officers, from the lower and middle levels, who truly are ready to risk their lives for the people and the country; but the values that motivate them to do so, were absorbed in their parent’s home’s, and not from the leaders of the army.

The Deep-Rooted Rectification

In order to purge corruption from the senior officers, the Government and the heads of the Defense organization must once again define the goals of the army: to defend the people and the country. To repeat and re-affirm that there is no nation in the world whose rights to their land are as well-established as the Jewish nation. It starts with the Divine commandment from the Bible, which the whole world is familiar with; it continues with the historical rights to the land of our forefathers – there not being another nation in the world who claims their country is their native land; and continues with the inherent moral right, which states that after the Jewish nation agreed to share the land with the Arabs living here, (most of whom emigrated to the country over the last one hundred and fifty years), but they refused all these offers, and in a series of wars, strove to destroy us – they have no right whatsoever to request a compromise. Additionally, in wake of the Left’s hallucinatory “peace”, it became clear that the Arabs are not willing to compromise, but at most, they are willing to deceive us in order to receive – without going to war – parts of our land, and generous funding – and afterwards, continue fighting us for the rest.

And if asked: Well, what can you do? There are still Leftist’s who innocently believe that it is justified and possible to make peace with enemies, even if they don’t express remorse for all the murder and hatred? Unfortunately, I do not have a comforting answer to this question. As long as such people have an impact, we will have to suffer all the ills of moral weakness that leads to corruption, to terrorist attacks, and to security crises. In other words, we will have to continue dealing with ‘victims of peace’ – in souls, and in values. In souls – the holy martyrs; in values – the corrupting of moral principles, and of historical and inherent justice.

Adopted Children

A few months ago, an elderly widow who did not merit giving birth, but instead, adopted children, called my wife. After her husband passed away, amongst his books she found one of my Jewish law books, “P’ninei Halacha” with a bookmark placed on the ‘halacha’ (law) concerning respect for parents of adopted children.

She read there: “Towards adoptive parents, the mitzvah of ‘honoring one’s parents’ does not apply, however, from the aspect of morality and the mitzvoth of kindness, adopted children are obliged to thank them immensely, for there is no greater ‘chesed’ (kindness) in the world than what adoptive parents provide their children. Therefore, as long as they live, adopted children should repay them with kindness, and treat them with great respect. And obviously, if the parents need assistance, the adopted children must help them as best they can; if they are sick – they must attend and aid them in all their needs, just as ordinary children are obliged to do for their biological parents. And after their adoptive parents pass away, it is a mitzvah for the adopted children to recite ‘Kaddish’ for them.”

After reading the ‘halacha’ (law), she was distressed; she had hoped that the duty of honoring adoptive parents stemmed from the obligatory ‘halacha’, and not just from the aspect of morality. She related that her relationship, and that of her husband’s, with their children was not so good; they do not keep in close contact as is common with conventional parents. My telephone number was written on the bookmark. She wanted to know if her husband had spoken to me before he died.

My wife and I responded that we had not spoken, but as far as ‘halacha’ is concerned, there was no need to be regretful, because the moral obligation is no less important. Nevertheless, my heart was wrenched with sorrow. And although the ‘halacha’ cannot be changed, I was worried that I had not written sensitively enough. I was comforted somewhat that in the new edition, which has not yet been completed, I expanded further on this matter (even before she called), in a way that, perhaps, things will be more tolerable.

The Version in the New Edition

“The Torah mitzvah of honoring one’s parents applies only to one’s biological parents, and not to adopted parents (Sotah 49a). However, from the aspect of moral obligation, since the adoptive parents treated him like a son, he too, must treat them as ordinary parents. As our Sages said: “Anyone who raises a boy or girl orphan in his house – Scripture accounts it as if he had begotten him” (Megilah 13a). In a certain sense, the moral obligation of an adopted child is even greater, since human nature is for parents to care for and raise their children. But when a couple takes an orphaned or abandoned child and raises him, their kindness is much greater, and therefore, the duty to be grateful for this is also greater. And as our Sages also said (Ketubot 50a), anyone who raises a boy or girl orphan in their house and marries them off, it is considered as if he ‘does righteousness at all times’ (Psalms 106:3). It is further explained in the Midrash that God has treasures to reward the righteous, and amongst them, a special treasury to reward those who raise orphans in their homes (Shmot Rabbah 45:6).

“If so, it is clear that an adopted child is morally obligated to behave towards his adoptive parents with fear and respect, just as a regular child behaves towards his parents, and even more. If they need assistance, the adopted child must help them as best as he possibly can. If they are sick, they must attend to them, and aid them in all their needs, just as children are obligated to do for their parents. And after they pass away – it is a mitzvah for the adopted sons to recite ‘Kaddish’ over them. However, if the parents need medical care likely to involve the letting of blood, they can ask their adopted child to do it (provided they know how to give such treatment properly), because the Torah decree to be careful not to do so, only applies to biological children.

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