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Subject: Question about Jews in gentile forces
jastayme3    2/11/2009 2:41:47 PM
This is for Eaze or anyone else who has studied the Law. Is there any guideline for a Jew enlisted in a gentile millitary force? Or indeed similar mixed endeavours in stressful situations in which the discipline of the organization conflicts with the discipline of the Law. Rations are an example of difficulty though most rations issued have some kosherness(gentile salt meat can't be eaten but hardtack can). I remember reading somewhere that Jewish traders in Central Asia would pay the guards extra to stay with them through the Sabbath. Then they would do a forced march to catch up to the rest of the caravan. And of course any nation that desires can deal with that problem by using segragated units. The Jewish Brigade for instance would not have been any burdan on Imperial logistics that are used to adjusting supplies to tradition. Not to mention, most were secular Jews anyway. For the matter of that, I believe the IDF does that for Ultra-Orthadox Jews. Are there any other simmilar difficulties that have been noted in history? And how have they been solved?
 
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battar    All is fair.   2/13/2009 4:04:04 PM
According to Jewish law, when your life is on the line you can put your beliefs aside for the duration of the hostilities. If you are in a foxhole being shot at, it is permissable to desecrate the sabbath or eat questionable food if that is what stands between you and kingdom come. The ultra orthodox prefer not to confront the question, and recommend that their flock leave the defence of the realm to others.
I've heard stories that the US armed forces will bend over backwards to be politically correct and accomodate peoples strange religious customs. More enlightened nations will tell such people to get stuffed and stop wasting everyone's time. The British police, for example, refused to continue the employment of a Hindu policeman who insisted on wearing a turban rather than the uniform cap.
Problems arise when you are on the offense rather than the defence. These haven't been resolved in the IDF, where some of the governments policies in the West bank conflicted with some soldiers religious belief.
The IDF would prefer not to conscript ultra-orthodox soldiers, as they would require special diets and segregation of female soldiers, and no-one can be bothered - it only makes things a bit more difficult for everyone else. This is a viewpoint that no one wants to say out loud in public, but retired high rank officers have admitted to in interviews with the press.
As an ex senior NCO in the IDF, if an ultra-orthodox soldier was posted to my department and requested segregation from the female staff, I would have asked manpower to post him elsewhere. I did serve with a number of orthodox soldiers, and they never made any fuss. 
I would imagine that most Jewish soldiers in NATO armies are secular anyway, and wouldn't turn down the chow on a US Navy carrier.
 
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Ezekiel    Law of Necessity   2/14/2009 12:45:58 PM

According to Jewish law, when your life is on the line you can put your beliefs aside for the duration of the hostilities. If you are in a foxhole being shot at, it is permissable to desecrate the sabbath or eat questionable food if that is what stands between you and kingdom come. The ultra orthodox prefer not to confront the question, and recommend that their flock leave the defence of the realm to others.

I've heard stories that the US armed forces will bend over backwards to be politically correct and accomodate peoples strange religious customs. More enlightened nations will tell such people to get stuffed and stop wasting everyone's time. The British police, for example, refused to continue the employment of a Hindu policeman who insisted on wearing a turban rather than the uniform cap.

Problems arise when you are on the offense rather than the defence. These haven't been resolved in the IDF, where some of the governments policies in the West bank conflicted with some soldiers religious belief.

The IDF would prefer not to conscript ultra-orthodox soldiers, as they would require special diets and segregation of female soldiers, and no-one can be bothered - it only makes things a bit more difficult for everyone else. This is a viewpoint that no one wants to say out loud in public, but retired high rank officers have admitted to in interviews with the press.

As an ex senior NCO in the IDF, if an ultra-orthodox soldier was posted to my department and requested segregation from the female staff, I would have asked manpower to post him elsewhere. I did serve with a number of orthodox soldiers, and they never made any fuss. 

I would imagine that most Jewish soldiers in NATO armies are secular anyway, and wouldn't turn down the chow on a US Navy carrier.

If we are talking about orthodox jews there will be multiple layers of issues in the maintenance of his Jewish routine as an individual soldier in a foreign army...as far as this Jew on the battlefield is concerned, the sanctity of life is paramount... Moses declared in D'varim, "You shall live by these laws" jewish exegesis emphasizes this utterance to mean he that Jews not die by them. There is concepts of martydom in Judaism, but they relate to specific situations where it would be preferable to die than transgress these laws(rape or murder to save your own life, one is required to take his own life instead)...there is another concept that is broader but i do not want to go on a tangent. The point here is that Judaism is life affirming and if a soldier is hungry on the battlefield and there is no food but a juicy Pig he may eat of it.
 
It would be far better from an observant jewish perspective to have a Jewish legion than individual jews dispersed in Units. A group environmet allows a greater degree for keeping their Jewish routine then in an individual element. If the Jew is unobservant then none of this is relevant, so it won't matter where he serves.
 
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jastayme3       2/18/2009 10:19:11 PM

 Of course it would be irrelevant to an unobservant Jew. The point was more about abstract curiousity not practice.
 
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battar    Practical solutions.   2/21/2009 3:49:33 PM
Simple, Jas.
1. Conscript observant Jews.
2. Conscript a career officer Rabbi.
3. Encourage the Jewish soldiers to turn to the military Rabbi with any questions or dillema, ensure that all soldiers have free access to the Rabbi's services.
4. Make it perfectly clear to the Rabbi where his military career - and military pension - is headed if he falls foul of the top commanders, so that he dispenses theological advice in line with requirements of the armed forces.
 
If the Rabbi puts his principles before his paycheck, you can always find another Rabbi.
 
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norden       2/22/2009 2:24:33 PM

I realize this is a little off topic but I had a buddy in the marines who converted to judaism for the days off. so put that in your censer and smoke it

 
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Ezekiel    not the real deal   2/23/2009 1:50:54 AM

I realize this is a little off topic but I had a buddy in the marines who converted to judaism for the days off. so put that in your censer and smoke it



Highly unlikely that this mate of yours successfully converted through a proper conversion process. He probably went through a reform/conservative deal (which isn't recognized by observant Jewry)...but definitely not the legitimate Halachic (talmudic) sanctioned conversion. This process takes over a year long, filled with constant study and examination, and it is very likely the conversion rabbi will also observe you on a sabbath and do an inhouse surprise inspection to see if it is line with dietary laws.
It ain't easy to convert...
 
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jastayme3       2/23/2009 4:54:17 PM

Simple, Jas.

1. Conscript observant Jews.

2. Conscript a career officer Rabbi.

3. Encourage the Jewish soldiers to turn to the military Rabbi with any questions or dillema, ensure that all soldiers have free access to the Rabbi's services.

4. Make it perfectly clear to the Rabbi where his military career - and military pension - is headed if he falls foul of the top commanders, so that he dispenses theological advice in line with requirements of the armed forces.

 

If the Rabbi puts his principles before his paycheck, you can always find another Rabbi.

Battar, I congratulate you. That idea was worthy of a Czar!
 
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Nichevo       3/4/2009 5:36:50 PM

Simple, Jas.

1. Conscript observant Jews.

2. Conscript a career officer Rabbi.

3. Encourage the Jewish soldiers to turn to the military Rabbi with any questions or dillema, ensure that all soldiers have free access to the Rabbi's services.

4. Make it perfectly clear to the Rabbi where his military career - and military pension - is headed if he falls foul of the top commanders, so that he dispenses theological advice in line with requirements of the armed forces.

 

If the Rabbi puts his principles before his paycheck, you can always find another Rabbi.

Which part of this was practical, my dear battar, in your little pointed head?  The part where you conscript a career officer, or the part where his "out" is to do the right thing?
 
Back to the hash pipe for you, my friend...
 
if my great-greats wanted their sons to stay in the Army for 25 years they could have stayed in Russia!
 
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Nichevo       3/4/2009 5:37:48 PM
Jas, missed that.  Czar = lulz!
 
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battar    Impractical   3/6/2009 2:19:59 PM
Nichevo,
               Whats the big deal ?  I stayed in the armed forces for 22 years, and I had fun. (No, I didn't have to shoot at anybody).
Unprincipled Rabbis are not hard to find in this country. There is always one in the news observing only 9 commandments.
What is actually practical about my solution - which was of course, half joking - is that you try to keep everybody happy. Let the orthodox Jews serve their country - be it Israel or be it elsewhere - and not be frustrated about being asked to change their lifestyle. You also don't want them looking for advice from anti-zionist rabbis who know less than nothing about the army.
Furthermore, in these troubled time military pension is not something you would throw away lightly - certainly not over an argument about which kosher certificate is more kosher than the other.
 
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