Anyone familiar with the IDF’s Netzach Yehuda Battalion, more commonly known as Nachal Chareidi, is aware that the force behind the project remains Rav Yoel Schwartz, who took the bold step backing the start of the program about 11 years ago, and continues his tireless efforts to keep the battalion on track.
Speaking in a phone interview on Jerusalem Day, Rav Schwartz stated that looking back, he can say with confidence that the program has been a success, far exceeding all of his expectations. He views the battalion as a budding force, one that is influencing others, hoping that one day, “the entire army will be as it should, shomer shabbos like Nachal Chareidi”.
One may ask who benefited more, the IDF or the Nachal Chareidi soldiers. Rabbi Schwartz feels both are winners, for the army has quality, highly-motivated soldiers and the former yeshiva bochrim have learned the true meaning of responsibility, shouldering the concerns of a soldier, learning new skills and performing on the level they do.
Rabbi Schwartz stress that it was never his intention to pull people out of the beis medrash, but to attract those who are not learning. He points out that Rav Shach ZT”L always warned that “those who are not learning jeopardize the position of those who are learning as they should” and he agrees, stating that those committed to learning Torah should continue doing just that.
When asked if there are some who left the army not-frum, corrupted by their surroundings, Rabbi Schwartz explains that yes, a few, but adds he looked into each case and learned these young men were already off the derech prior to entering the IDF, albeit still wearing black and white, but they were not even shomer shabbos. The army was their last chance, and in a number of cases, unfortunately, they opted to leave the path of Torah observance.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)