Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Exemptions from the Military- National Obligations

By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson

"When a man takes a new wife, he shall not join the army and may not engage in any task. He shall remain free to his home for one year and generate joy for his wife" (Devarim 24:5).

The Torah exempts a new husband (chatan) from military duty for the first year of his marriage. The Rambam rules that this exemption applies to an individual who has built a new home (and began to reside in it) and to a person who has planted a vineyard and has partaken in its' fruits (from the fourth year onwards).

These individuals enjoy a distinct status from others who leave for war, but return to the civilian life upon hearing the anointed Kohen who engages in issues of warfare (Kohen mashuach milchama). The latter class (men who have betrothed womae, built homes or planted vineyards- without enjoying the fruits of their labors) return home from the front, but are required to work in civilian defense. Of course, these halachot apply exclusively to voluntary wars (milchamot hareshut)- in an obligatory war (milchemet mitzvah) all are required to fight.

The Torah is sending us a profound lesson. Indeed, waging war against the enemy is a great mitzvah. Even a voluntary war merits the assistance and presence of Hashem (HaHolech emachem lihelachem lachem). After all, the purpose of warfare is to eradicate evil from the universe. Nevertheless, the Torah instructs us that involvement in positive actions (building and planting) is superior to banishing evil. People who engage in the fortification of the Jewish People are exempt form involvement in war. The degree that an individual is involved in constructive activity determines the extent of the exemption. People who build homes and plant vineyards will eventually marry women and fortify the family structure. This strengthens the nation as a whole (al tikri banayich elah bonayich).

Perhaps this message is pertinent to our era as well. Subsequent to the horrible destruction of (and exile of our brethren from) Gush Katif, we must renew our energy and engage in rebuilding and positive activity for the sake of the Jewish People. Be'ezrat Hashem this will merit us with the arrival of the redemption.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Ki Tetze
Uploaded: 8/28/2006 10:27:36 AM