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By the Grace of G-d

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5734 [May 22, 1974]

Brooklyn, NY

Chaplain Israel Haber

Elmendorf AFB, Alaska


Greeting and Blessing:

.. Military service, by definition and practice, very aptly illustrates the basic principle of commitment to Torah and Mitzvot, namely “naaseh” (”we will do”), and then “v’nishma” (“we will understand”).

Moreover, the soldier’s duty to carry out the orders of a commanding officer, and carry them out promptly and to the best of his ability, is in no way inhibited by the fact that in civilian life the soldier may be vastly superior to his commanding officer in many respects. Nor does such a circumstance diminish in the least the soldier’s self-esteem in obeying the order. On the contrary, by not allowing any personal views to interfere with his military duties, he
demonstrates his strength of character and integrity.

The same is true in the area of Torah and Mitzvot. One may be a very rich man – in the ordinary sense, or rich in knowledge of the sciences, or in other achievements in public life. Yet, when it comes to Halachah, the Law of Torah conduct, he accepts it with complete obedience and dedication, on the authority of a fellow Jew who had consecrated all his life to Torah study and is eminently qualified to transmit the “Word of G-d – the Halacha.”

A further point which characterizes military discipline also has a bearing on the subject of Torah and Mitzvot. In the military, no soldier can claim that his conduct is his personal affair; nor can he take the attitude that there are many other soldiers to carry out military assignments, but he will do as he pleases. For it has often been demonstrated in military history how one action of a single soldier could have far-reaching consequences for an entire army and country.

Every Jew is a soldier in the “Army of G-d,” as is often emphasized in the week’s Sedra – kol yotze tzovo, “everyone going forth as a soldier.” And he is bound by the same two basic rules: To carry out G-d’s commandments promptly and fully, without questions (naaseh before v’nishma), and to recognize his responsibility to his people (“All Jews are
responsible for one another”), hence the consequences of one good deed. To quote the Rambam: “Every person should always consider himself and the whole world as equi-balanced. Hence, when he does one Mitzvah, he tips the scale in favor of himself and of the whole world” (see it at length in Hilchos Teshuva, 3:4).

May you go from strength to strength in all that has been said above, in all aspects of Yiddishkeit, which includes also influence to promote among non-Jews the observance of the basic Seven Mitzvot, with all their numerous ramifications, which are incumbent upon all mankind and the foundation of human society…

With esteem and blessings,

Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson