Sunday, July 2, 2017

INGRATITUDE -The Source of all Sins

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva

R’ Bachye and the Sefer Hachinuch both state that expressing appreciation and gratitude (Hakarat Hatov) is the essence and foundation of Judaism; and, ingratitude is the source of all sins. In fact, the Midrash in Vayikra Rabba 9 states, "Derech Eretz kadma laTorah", which means, "Courtesy, decency, and concern for others precede the Torah."

Thus, how do we explain the death threats sent to Charedi soldiers, serving in the IDF, warning them that an all-out war will be fought against them by the Charedi public, if these Charedi IDF soldiers do not quit the IDF. These Charedi IDF soldiers are spat on, verbally abused, and cursed when they wear their IDF uniform to Synagogue, or in the streets of their Charedi neighborhoods. Last week an IDF soldier was viciously attacked in Mea She'arim by Charedim for the "crime" of protecting them and us from terrorism and defending our Holy Land 24/7. Have we gone insane? It truly is a MAD, MAD World!

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Charedi Mirrer Yeshiva Jerusalem, referred to IDF soldiers killed in battle as "Harugei Lod" (martyrs of Lod) of whom the Talmud in Bava Batra 10 states that "no Tzaddik can ever reach their level in Olam Haba." Rabbi Shmuelevitz also wept and spoke every Yom Kippur about the need to empathize with the dangers that the IDF soldiers face on a daily basis.

We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciation (Hakarat Hatov) to our Holy IDF, and therefore we should express it by saying the special prayers and blessings for the IDF in all our Shuls.

The Vilna Gaon warned us to beware of false piety. He states, "A person who appears religious and pious, but does not act with Derech Eretz, causes a great Chilul Hashem." People who dress Charedi but assault, verbally abuse or curse IDF soldiers CANNOT be called Charedi. The severity of the sin of publicly humiliating someone, which includes IDF soldiers, is likened to murder, according to the Talmud Bava Metzia 58b, and the "Charedi" perpetrator has no share in the World to Come. Thus, people who dress as Charedi Jews but have no Derech Eretz are not Charedi at all.

There is an amazing Baal Haturim on Vayikra 6:3, "The Cohen shall Wear his uniform to remove the ash from the Altar." The same word for uniform, "Mido", is also used in reference to the soldiers of King David's army. Why? The Baal Haturim comments, "The priestly garments are like the uniform of the Israeli combat soldier." Based on this Baal Haturim, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l states that the IDF uniform of today has the holiness of the Priestly Uniform. Thus, Rav Kook rules that the first time an IDF soldier puts on his uniform, he should recite a Shehecheyanu. The Rebbe of Chabad explains that the IDF soldier is engaged in the Mitzvah of protecting the People of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Torah of Israel "a Milchemet Mitzva" (a halachically obligated war) on a 24/7 basis.

Thus, all of us have a Torah obligation of "Hakarat Hatov and Noseh b’Ol Im Chaveiro," ("sharing the burdens and appreciating the personal sacrifices of our fellow Jews in the Holy IDF").


  1. What do the autistic kids think about spitting another Jew for protecting the people and land of Israel?

    And in case you tell me "the army is not kosher... bla bla bla", I tell you the units where haredim and datim leumim serve are adapted to Orthodox Jews. 100% glatt kosher food, time to study and pray, shaving is not mandatory, no wimminz allowed, etc

    1. I don't really have recollection of what the FC individuals have said, but my report is actually very positive.

      I have had neighbors that I studied with who served in the IDF and come back telling me very positive things. The food, Shabbos, study time, etc were all done halachically correctly and to be praised. It was far superior than my military experience in the US of Magog Army.