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Jul 7, 2008

Interesting Psak by Rav Cherlow: Committing to Sherut Leumi - setting rules for society

Rav Yuval Cherlow was asked by a petitioner, how to relate to her second year of Sherut Leumi.

She asked that perhaps she should be preparing for marriage, as she is dating and hoping to get married, by getting a job and saving money so her husband will be able to sit and learn Torah in kollel, and thereby perhaps her contribution in the long term will be greater. Or perhaps she should commit to a second year of Sherut Leumi and contribute in this way now to the Jewish people even though there is a chance that it will be interrupted should she get married. Which contribution is more important?

Rav Cherlow responded that as a society we have to make general rules. That is what halacha is - a set of general rules that establishes with tzibbur of the Jewish Nation, rather than every indivdual formulating his or her own set of rules.

So to start off, we have to establish that the general rule is that girls should serve two years of Sherut Leumi. Now we have to figure out the exceptions to the rule. Is somebody not appropriate for it? Can somebody specific not handle it? Is somebody specific getting married?

In the case of somebody who is an exception and in an exceptional situation, it is better for that person to not serve the second year.

So you have to decide if you fall into the category of the exceptions, or if your situation is exceptional or not, and therefore you should be the exception to the rule. Or does your personal situation fit in with most of the community..


  1. I'm not at all sure I want my daughters to serve for two years. This is the first time I have heard the "norm" to be for two years, even though in theory the secular girls do (but I wonder how many really do it). Then they go on to study for several years (interesting that that wasn't mentioned). And the boys are in hesder for 5 years before they start studying--and they are all expected to marry young. It's a bizarre system. They have kids and both parents are studying and at least one is working. I heard that many rabbis are advising couples to use birth control for the first year of marriage and space children at least three years apart, based on problems that they have seen.

  2. me too. I thought the norm was one year, and some people signed up for an extra year. But he says that is the norm, or what they encourage, so maybe things have changed.


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