Rav Avigdor Miller on Irreligious Israeli Soldiers in Olam Habah
Rav Avigdor Miller on Irreligious Israeli Soldiers in Olam Habah
I’d like quote for the Rav an anecdote from some of the greatest roshei yeshiva and thinkers such as Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zatzal and the previous Vizhnitzer Rebbe zatzal that the irreligious Israeli soldiers have one of the most honored places in the World to Come. And, yibadeil l’chaim tovim, Rav Moshe Feinstein, said that most of the irreligious world, ruba de’ruba, are considered tinok shenishba and only a small amount are considered resha’im. In light of this would you perhaps reconsider your strong statements that you made against the irreligious Jews who died in the wars in Israel?
As far as irreligious soldiers who died in the wars, I don’t recall any statements that I made. If I did, so they’re like any other irreligious Jews. Irreligious Jews, you have to know, are better than most gentiles. And we don’t need any authorities to back that up; it’s common sense. Even American irreligious Jews are generally better than gentiles – but certainly the irreligious Jews whose parents came from Russia or from Hitler’s crematoria so usually they’re not yet homosexuals and adulterers, and they doesn’t yet have as much malice as umos ha’olam. There’s no question about that – you don’t have to quote anybody about that. You can quote me because I said it in my very first book that the worst Jews are better than most of the good gentiles.
But you specifically mentioned in one of the Thursday night lectures that they have no share in the World-to-Come?
The share in the World-to-Come is something that Hakodosh Boruch Hu alone can know, that’s what I said then. Only, why should they be given a share just as a gift? Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give them if He wants, but we go by certain rules. And one of the rules is if a person is a kofer, if he’s an atheist, so he’s not going to have a share in the World to Come. If a person doesn’t believe in Olam Habah he won’t have a share in the World to Come. The gemara says in Sanhedrin (46b) that if a man says, “Don’t bury because I don’t want a kapara,” – when a person is buried so that’s a kapara for him – but if before this man dies he says, “Don’t bury me because I don’t want a kapara,” so the gemara says there that he won’t have a kapara. If he doesn’t want a kapara, so he won’t have it! If a person doesn’t believe in Olam Habah, so there’s no Olam Habah for him. That’s one of the fundamentals: האומר אין תחית המתים מן התורה – If you say that there’s no Next World, so the gemara in Sanhedrin says that you won’t merit the Next World.
So what will it help if a gadol will give him a paper, a certificate – the question is: Does he believe in Olam Habah? You say he’s a tinok shenishba? So I’ll quote Rav Chaim Brisker. Reb Chaim Brisker said, “Nebach an apikoris is still an apikoris.” It doesn’t excuse it! We’re not talking about blaming him – it’s not a question of blame. To merit Olam Habah you have be ma’amin in Olam Habah. And if a person is not a ma’amin – it’s not a question of whose fault it is – he won’t get Olam Habah!
All you can say in the name of Reb Moshe is not that he’s a ben Olam Habah; you can say maybe that he’s better than the umos ha’olam. But the umos ha’olam also have no chelek in Olam Habah so there’s no need to say this irreligious Jew should get any Olam Habah. (Rav Moshe Feinstein zatzal, in his Igros Moshe [Even Ha’ezer 1:82, anaf 11] actually says that a tinok she’nishba is לא עדיפי מעכו״ם and that he is אינו בכלל ישראל)
Rav Chaim Brisker is also an authority and he speaks clearly on this subject. And he’s not talking merely whether they’re better than the gentiles. And he said that – he said that they won’t get any Olam Habah!
But Rav Aryeh Finkel of Mir quoted Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz as saying that all people killed in the wars are on the highest level?
Highest level? Where? In Gan Eden? Where does he say that? Highest level?! He means the highest level of the gentiles. Read to me the words aloud about Olam Habah. Not other words – just about Olam Habah. What does he say about Olam Habah?
In the sefer Pirkei Geula from Rav Shachna Zohn who has haskomos from Rav Elya Lopian of Rav Yechezkel Levenstein and all the great –
I’ll tell you what you should do. Instead of telling me something from a translation that’s just a few words that’s clipped from here and there, show it to me inside that one of these authorities say that he’s the highest level in Olam Habah. To be on the highest level in Olam Habah, you have to be not like the Chofetz Chaim – you have to be like Rabbi Akiva! Rabbi Akiva is higher than the Chofetz Chaim. So when you say this irreligious soldier is on a highest level, so you’re saying he’s higher than the Chofetz Chaim. Or you’re saying he’s higher than Rav Chaim Brisker. I’m not measuring who is higher, Reb Chaim Brisker or the Chofetz Chaim, but let’s say Rav Velvel Brisker. Rav Velvel will tell you he’s less than Reb Chaim, his father. So if you say the highest level, so he’s at least with Reb Velvel then. And if not with Reb Velvel, at least, let’s say, with Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.
So now we’re becoming ridiculous! We’re saying ridiculous things! We’re saying that the people who were drafted in the army and they had no alternative; if it was up to them they’d be eating Yom Kippur in a Tel Aviv café. But now they’re drafted in the army and they got killed against their will! It’s ridiculous to put that soldier next door to the Chofetz Chaim in the Next World. Unless a person doesn’t believe in the Next World, so then he can hand it out cheaply. But the Next World doesn’t come that cheap!
So you have to show me some authority who says that they’re sitting – not in the highest level in the Next World; show me that they’re sitting in the Next World at all! That’s what I want to see! Bring me a proof that they’re in the Next World at all!
You have to understand that when you speak to the public, sometimes you have to say words that can be construed with double meanings. So “the highest level” means compared, let’s say, to Idi Amin (former president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979 who was known as the Butcher of Uganda because of his torture and murder of thousands). Idi Amin is on the lowest level; he’s going to be on the lowest level in Gehinnom, so these soldiers will be a little higher than he is.