Rav Uri Sherki
Israel's Army – In Service of the Return from Exile
Translation of an original article in Hebrew
After an extremely long exile, during which we existed only as a religion, we have regained our land and our place among the nations as a political and national entity. The instruments of this Return are the State of Israel and its Army.
According to the torah the establishment of an independent state in the Land of Israel is one of the 613 commandments, as Nachmanides ruled. Participating in Israel's security and in its various wars, be they for the defense against our enemies or for assuming possession of our land, is part of the Positive Commandments, and therefore oblige the people of Israel as a whole.
Therefore, it is a great privilege to have moved from the exclusively individual dimension of Judaism to its collective form, the latter enables us to act as a nation.
Evidently, Jewish tradition is not militaristic; arms in themselves are not a value. However, since we unfortunately, live in a violent world, the Torah has instituted various commandments to help us establish our position in this world. Consequently, there are commandments regarding armed struggle.
The Israeli Army is the only army in the world that abides by a moral law. Furthermore, the moral law is binding in Israel. Therefore, should a soldier commit an action that constitutes a blatant assault on morality he shall not be able to hide behind the excuse that he was "given an order."
The IDF (Zahal) is also a meeting place between the different groups of our public. It is in the Army that people originating from different countries, coming from dissimilar social backgrounds and holding various opinions come to know and respect each other. One can say that the contribution of Israel's Army to the process of the Ingathering of the Exiles is of the highest importance. This is a source of pride and joy to us, especially knowing that the State of Israel differs from other states since it aims at fulfilling a universal mission - promoting the universal peace and the knowledge of God in the world.
Personally, I had the privilege of serving in the Artillery and had therefore given my share to Israel's security. The greater part of my service was on reserve duty (Millu'im) so I could live through this extraordinary experience. Like many heads of families in Israel, the period of service as a reservist is often considered not a burden but rather a fortunate occasion, even if limited to a few weeks, to meet with other Israelis that one would not have the chance to know if one remained in one's own milieu.