My Son and the Army

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My son had his first visit with the army for a day of tests. He didn’t get his “profile,” that magic number measuring the army’s opinion of the recruit’s battle-worthiness, because he has yet to send them the results of a vision exam. They nevertheless wasted no time in sending him a letter saying that he is fit to serve, with the date of enlistment and a list of supplies each soldier receives. Both sexes receive the same items with a few exceptions. Men get extra underwear and t-shirts, and boots. Women get tear-gas.

My son will definitely defer the army for at least a year to learn in yeshiva; after all he won’t turn 18 until next March. After that he may continue in hesder (yeshiva combined with shortened service) or do three full years of army service.

The army offers various options for combining academic studies with army service. An atudai attends university at the army’s expense (but only tuition), does basic training in the summer, and must sign on to continue serving the army for a few years. There are also more elite academic units where the army directly supervises and trains a group of top students, and my son has set his sights on one of those. My son’s rosh yeshiva argued against this option. It’s an eight-year program and a big commitment for an 18-year-old to make. In hesder, he can change his mind in the middle; if he quits one of the other programs he loses his rights.  My idealistic son wants to do full service, and the RY argued that throughout their lives, hesder graduates serve more because they are more motivated to do reserve duty. He pointed out that reserve duty is the heart of the Israeli army in the first place.

He didn’t convince my son. The hesder units are field units, which he doesn’t believe is the best use of his talents, and he’s attracted to the idea of finishing university while serving the country and having a career, both in the army and afterward, waiting for him at the end.

In the meantime he narrowed down his yeshiva choices and (I believe) has discarded the haredi option. The RY vehemently opposed the idea of haredi yeshivot being on a higher level. He said that the haredim simply don’t respect great Torah scholars in the religious Zionist camp such as Rav Lichtenstein, and suggested that while in yeshiva my son should focus on his learning without having to worry about changing his hashkafa (religous outlook) too.

In the army one of the interviewers asked him whether he spoke any languages other than Hebrew. She continued:

What language? English.
Do you speak words in English?
Yes.
Do you speak sentences?
Yes.
Do you speak fluently?
Yes.
Do you speak at a mother-tongue level?
Yes.

She repeated the same questions, this time regarding reading.
The final question was, “What language do you speak at home?” He replied, “English.”
“Hevanti.”
(I understand.)
Maybe you had to be there.

(Update: He ended up in hesder in the end.)

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Comments

  1. you must be starting to get nervous….

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  2. you must be starting to get nervous….

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  3. you must be starting to get nervous….

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  4. you must be starting to get nervous….

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  5. An 8 year commitment is a big commitment, but a number of my friends made the same the same commitment to the US out of high school when they went to the Military Academies or a University/Officer’s Program and I don’t believe any regreted such a move. Also, 8 years seems long for a young person, but it seems to fly by when you look back.
    Keep us posted on his decision. Sounds like the options can be overwhelming.

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  6. An 8 year commitment is a big commitment, but a number of my friends made the same the same commitment to the US out of high school when they went to the Military Academies or a University/Officer’s Program and I don’t believe any regreted such a move. Also, 8 years seems long for a young person, but it seems to fly by when you look back.
    Keep us posted on his decision. Sounds like the options can be overwhelming.

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  7. An 8 year commitment is a big commitment, but a number of my friends made the same the same commitment to the US out of high school when they went to the Military Academies or a University/Officer’s Program and I don’t believe any regreted such a move. Also, 8 years seems long for a young person, but it seems to fly by when you look back.
    Keep us posted on his decision. Sounds like the options can be overwhelming.

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  8. An 8 year commitment is a big commitment, but a number of my friends made the same the same commitment to the US out of high school when they went to the Military Academies or a University/Officer’s Program and I don’t believe any regreted such a move. Also, 8 years seems long for a young person, but it seems to fly by when you look back.
    Keep us posted on his decision. Sounds like the options can be overwhelming.

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  9. The rabbi has a point. Miluim (reserve duty) is very important, and lasts until around 40. If he does something that he enjoys in the obligitory army service, he will probably also enjoy the reserve duty. Otherwise he will suffer for weeks every year, in addition to the regular service.
    If he starts his career during the army, then they end up not being “wasted” years. He will gain important experience, and can possibly learn towards his MA while in the army.
    Lot’s of luck!
    Orit

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  10. The rabbi has a point. Miluim (reserve duty) is very important, and lasts until around 40. If he does something that he enjoys in the obligitory army service, he will probably also enjoy the reserve duty. Otherwise he will suffer for weeks every year, in addition to the regular service.
    If he starts his career during the army, then they end up not being “wasted” years. He will gain important experience, and can possibly learn towards his MA while in the army.
    Lot’s of luck!
    Orit

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  11. The rabbi has a point. Miluim (reserve duty) is very important, and lasts until around 40. If he does something that he enjoys in the obligitory army service, he will probably also enjoy the reserve duty. Otherwise he will suffer for weeks every year, in addition to the regular service.
    If he starts his career during the army, then they end up not being “wasted” years. He will gain important experience, and can possibly learn towards his MA while in the army.
    Lot’s of luck!
    Orit

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. The rabbi has a point. Miluim (reserve duty) is very important, and lasts until around 40. If he does something that he enjoys in the obligitory army service, he will probably also enjoy the reserve duty. Otherwise he will suffer for weeks every year, in addition to the regular service.
    If he starts his career during the army, then they end up not being “wasted” years. He will gain important experience, and can possibly learn towards his MA while in the army.
    Lot’s of luck!
    Orit

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. mominisrael says:

    RG–Not yet.
    SL–Right, he has to do the army and university at any rate in those 8 years, and it may be more interesting than it would be in civilian life.
    Orit–Not being happy in his reserve duty works both ways, I guess. Good point.

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  14. mominisrael says:

    RG–Not yet.
    SL–Right, he has to do the army and university at any rate in those 8 years, and it may be more interesting than it would be in civilian life.
    Orit–Not being happy in his reserve duty works both ways, I guess. Good point.

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  15. mominisrael says:

    RG–Not yet.
    SL–Right, he has to do the army and university at any rate in those 8 years, and it may be more interesting than it would be in civilian life.
    Orit–Not being happy in his reserve duty works both ways, I guess. Good point.

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  16. mominisrael says:

    RG–Not yet.
    SL–Right, he has to do the army and university at any rate in those 8 years, and it may be more interesting than it would be in civilian life.
    Orit–Not being happy in his reserve duty works both ways, I guess. Good point.

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  17. Seraphya Berrin says:

    I am in a situation that is alomst exactly the same. I have just done a year of Yeshiva at Gush after 6 months at Yeshiva University.
    I was really intrested in the Atudai stuff, and I think it would be a waste of my skills to go into the field in infantry. In the end it looks like I will do hesder and see if I want to go into the field or not.
    By the way, doing Hesder does not mean that you have to do infantry or field work(kravi), I have friends who do all sorts of things while in Hesder. While Hesder does limit your non-kravi options, plenty are still open.
    Good Luck!

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  18. Seraphya Berrin says:

    I am in a situation that is alomst exactly the same. I have just done a year of Yeshiva at Gush after 6 months at Yeshiva University.
    I was really intrested in the Atudai stuff, and I think it would be a waste of my skills to go into the field in infantry. In the end it looks like I will do hesder and see if I want to go into the field or not.
    By the way, doing Hesder does not mean that you have to do infantry or field work(kravi), I have friends who do all sorts of things while in Hesder. While Hesder does limit your non-kravi options, plenty are still open.
    Good Luck!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Seraphya Berrin says:

    I am in a situation that is alomst exactly the same. I have just done a year of Yeshiva at Gush after 6 months at Yeshiva University.
    I was really intrested in the Atudai stuff, and I think it would be a waste of my skills to go into the field in infantry. In the end it looks like I will do hesder and see if I want to go into the field or not.
    By the way, doing Hesder does not mean that you have to do infantry or field work(kravi), I have friends who do all sorts of things while in Hesder. While Hesder does limit your non-kravi options, plenty are still open.
    Good Luck!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Seraphya Berrin says:

    I am in a situation that is alomst exactly the same. I have just done a year of Yeshiva at Gush after 6 months at Yeshiva University.
    I was really intrested in the Atudai stuff, and I think it would be a waste of my skills to go into the field in infantry. In the end it looks like I will do hesder and see if I want to go into the field or not.
    By the way, doing Hesder does not mean that you have to do infantry or field work(kravi), I have friends who do all sorts of things while in Hesder. While Hesder does limit your non-kravi options, plenty are still open.
    Good Luck!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. mominisrael says:

    Seraphya (love that name),
    Thanks for your comment. We will have to look more into hesder options. Good luck to you.

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  22. mominisrael says:

    Seraphya (love that name),
    Thanks for your comment. We will have to look more into hesder options. Good luck to you.

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  23. mominisrael says:

    Seraphya (love that name),
    Thanks for your comment. We will have to look more into hesder options. Good luck to you.

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  24. mominisrael says:

    Seraphya (love that name),
    Thanks for your comment. We will have to look more into hesder options. Good luck to you.

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  25. Ari Kinsberg says:

    if he wants to do 3 years and not be restricted to a field unit, what about the shiluv program? there he can study in yeshiva, serve 3 years and have his choice of units.

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  26. Ari Kinsberg says:

    if he wants to do 3 years and not be restricted to a field unit, what about the shiluv program? there he can study in yeshiva, serve 3 years and have his choice of units.

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  27. Ari Kinsberg says:

    if he wants to do 3 years and not be restricted to a field unit, what about the shiluv program? there he can study in yeshiva, serve 3 years and have his choice of units.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Ari Kinsberg says:

    if he wants to do 3 years and not be restricted to a field unit, what about the shiluv program? there he can study in yeshiva, serve 3 years and have his choice of units.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. mominisrael says:

    Ari–But can’t he study in any yeshiva for as long as he wants? I will ask my son. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. mominisrael says:

    Ari–But can’t he study in any yeshiva for as long as he wants? I will ask my son. Thanks for the comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. mominisrael says:

    Ari–But can’t he study in any yeshiva for as long as he wants? I will ask my son. Thanks for the comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. mominisrael says:

    Ari–But can’t he study in any yeshiva for as long as he wants? I will ask my son. Thanks for the comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. The atudai program can be great, I have a good friend in it right now. It can pose a couple of problems for religious folks though–
    1. Universities here tend to be very anti-religious. Hopefully your son’s time in yeshiva will equip him to deal with that, but it can still be very hard.
    2. Marriage. I know it’s wierd thinking about that with a 17-year-old, but it may very well come up in the next few years. 1/2 years of yeshiva, followed by 3 years in university, then 3 years in the army–your son will be 25 before he has any real freedom or anything resembling a parnasa. Maybe now he thinks, ok, so I won’t date until I’m 25, but he might regret that later.
    Atuda could be a good choice anyway, just he should have a plan. Or if he does marry in his early twenties (pretty standard for dati leumi kids as I’m sure you know), he should marry someone who can support the two of them (and maybe more) for the first 2/3 years.

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  34. The atudai program can be great, I have a good friend in it right now. It can pose a couple of problems for religious folks though–
    1. Universities here tend to be very anti-religious. Hopefully your son’s time in yeshiva will equip him to deal with that, but it can still be very hard.
    2. Marriage. I know it’s wierd thinking about that with a 17-year-old, but it may very well come up in the next few years. 1/2 years of yeshiva, followed by 3 years in university, then 3 years in the army–your son will be 25 before he has any real freedom or anything resembling a parnasa. Maybe now he thinks, ok, so I won’t date until I’m 25, but he might regret that later.
    Atuda could be a good choice anyway, just he should have a plan. Or if he does marry in his early twenties (pretty standard for dati leumi kids as I’m sure you know), he should marry someone who can support the two of them (and maybe more) for the first 2/3 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. The atudai program can be great, I have a good friend in it right now. It can pose a couple of problems for religious folks though–
    1. Universities here tend to be very anti-religious. Hopefully your son’s time in yeshiva will equip him to deal with that, but it can still be very hard.
    2. Marriage. I know it’s wierd thinking about that with a 17-year-old, but it may very well come up in the next few years. 1/2 years of yeshiva, followed by 3 years in university, then 3 years in the army–your son will be 25 before he has any real freedom or anything resembling a parnasa. Maybe now he thinks, ok, so I won’t date until I’m 25, but he might regret that later.
    Atuda could be a good choice anyway, just he should have a plan. Or if he does marry in his early twenties (pretty standard for dati leumi kids as I’m sure you know), he should marry someone who can support the two of them (and maybe more) for the first 2/3 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. The atudai program can be great, I have a good friend in it right now. It can pose a couple of problems for religious folks though–
    1. Universities here tend to be very anti-religious. Hopefully your son’s time in yeshiva will equip him to deal with that, but it can still be very hard.
    2. Marriage. I know it’s wierd thinking about that with a 17-year-old, but it may very well come up in the next few years. 1/2 years of yeshiva, followed by 3 years in university, then 3 years in the army–your son will be 25 before he has any real freedom or anything resembling a parnasa. Maybe now he thinks, ok, so I won’t date until I’m 25, but he might regret that later.
    Atuda could be a good choice anyway, just he should have a plan. Or if he does marry in his early twenties (pretty standard for dati leumi kids as I’m sure you know), he should marry someone who can support the two of them (and maybe more) for the first 2/3 years.

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  37. mominisrael says:

    Thanks, Ora. My son hopes to get a degree not just as an atudai, but in one of the elite programs if he is accepted. Definitely religious challenges there too. As for marriage, all the religious boys have this problem whether they do hesder or not.

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  38. mominisrael says:

    Thanks, Ora. My son hopes to get a degree not just as an atudai, but in one of the elite programs if he is accepted. Definitely religious challenges there too. As for marriage, all the religious boys have this problem whether they do hesder or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. mominisrael says:

    Thanks, Ora. My son hopes to get a degree not just as an atudai, but in one of the elite programs if he is accepted. Definitely religious challenges there too. As for marriage, all the religious boys have this problem whether they do hesder or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. mominisrael says:

    Thanks, Ora. My son hopes to get a degree not just as an atudai, but in one of the elite programs if he is accepted. Definitely religious challenges there too. As for marriage, all the religious boys have this problem whether they do hesder or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Rabbi Burton says:

    I am really impressed with your site!
    A few questions for you:
    1. How does the “hashkafa” of a yeshiva really determine the level or quality of the learning? After all, the gemara is the gemara, whether you wear a kippa seruga or something in velvet…?
    2. Why is it that Brisk and Mir are among the first few places that come to mind when people talk about great yeshivas, but Har Etzion and Mercaz HaRav are not? Is that just bias? Or do the latter not truly compare to the former?
    3. BTW, that whole vignette between the army interviewer and your son–I can totally picture that! It’s one of those classic moments in Israel where there are simply two realities crashing against each other, and to the observer it just seems comically absurd…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Rabbi Burton says:

    I am really impressed with your site!
    A few questions for you:
    1. How does the “hashkafa” of a yeshiva really determine the level or quality of the learning? After all, the gemara is the gemara, whether you wear a kippa seruga or something in velvet…?
    2. Why is it that Brisk and Mir are among the first few places that come to mind when people talk about great yeshivas, but Har Etzion and Mercaz HaRav are not? Is that just bias? Or do the latter not truly compare to the former?
    3. BTW, that whole vignette between the army interviewer and your son–I can totally picture that! It’s one of those classic moments in Israel where there are simply two realities crashing against each other, and to the observer it just seems comically absurd…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Rabbi Burton says:

    I am really impressed with your site!
    A few questions for you:
    1. How does the “hashkafa” of a yeshiva really determine the level or quality of the learning? After all, the gemara is the gemara, whether you wear a kippa seruga or something in velvet…?
    2. Why is it that Brisk and Mir are among the first few places that come to mind when people talk about great yeshivas, but Har Etzion and Mercaz HaRav are not? Is that just bias? Or do the latter not truly compare to the former?
    3. BTW, that whole vignette between the army interviewer and your son–I can totally picture that! It’s one of those classic moments in Israel where there are simply two realities crashing against each other, and to the observer it just seems comically absurd…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Rabbi Burton says:

    I am really impressed with your site!
    A few questions for you:
    1. How does the “hashkafa” of a yeshiva really determine the level or quality of the learning? After all, the gemara is the gemara, whether you wear a kippa seruga or something in velvet…?
    2. Why is it that Brisk and Mir are among the first few places that come to mind when people talk about great yeshivas, but Har Etzion and Mercaz HaRav are not? Is that just bias? Or do the latter not truly compare to the former?
    3. BTW, that whole vignette between the army interviewer and your son–I can totally picture that! It’s one of those classic moments in Israel where there are simply two realities crashing against each other, and to the observer it just seems comically absurd…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. mominisrael says:

    1. It doesn’t affect the quality of the learning. But it affects how comfortable he will feel. We don’t want him to go to a yeshiva that looks down on the army and secular education.
    2. Yes, it’s bias.
    3. She was just doing her job.
    Thanks for visiting!

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  46. mominisrael says:

    1. It doesn’t affect the quality of the learning. But it affects how comfortable he will feel. We don’t want him to go to a yeshiva that looks down on the army and secular education.
    2. Yes, it’s bias.
    3. She was just doing her job.
    Thanks for visiting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. mominisrael says:

    1. It doesn’t affect the quality of the learning. But it affects how comfortable he will feel. We don’t want him to go to a yeshiva that looks down on the army and secular education.
    2. Yes, it’s bias.
    3. She was just doing her job.
    Thanks for visiting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. mominisrael says:

    1. It doesn’t affect the quality of the learning. But it affects how comfortable he will feel. We don’t want him to go to a yeshiva that looks down on the army and secular education.
    2. Yes, it’s bias.
    3. She was just doing her job.
    Thanks for visiting!

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