Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
INGRATITUDE – The Source of all Sins
Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 12:41:58 PM
Number of views: 406

R’ Bachye and the Sefer Hahinuch 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 uniforms to shul, or in the streets of their Charedi neighborhoods. Last week an IDF soldier was viciously attacked in Mea Sharim 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 Zatzal, 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 Basra 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 that 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 Baba Mitzia 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 Yehdah Kook Zatzal states that the IDF uniform of today has the Kedushah of the Bigdei Kehunah (the priestly garments). Thus, Rav Kook rules that the first time an IDF soldier puts on his uniform, he should recite a Shehecheyanu blessing. 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 Mitzvah" (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").

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