Compensating Mercenaries

Parshas Lech Lecha

Avrohom Avinu, after defeating the four mighty kings and rescuing Lot from Sodom, did not take any compensation or reward for his valiant efforts.  He vehemently declined. However, the people who helped him in this war: Aner, Eshkol, and Mamrei, and the other military commanders, were allowed to take their fair share for their mercenary efforts in winning the war.

Avrohom Avinu, when he actually divided the spoils, did it in a specific fashion which set the precedent for all future battles. David HaMelelch later styled himself on Avrohom Avinu. What was this method of division? He divided the spoils equally.  Those warriors who were engaged in the forefront of the battle received the same share as the people who were in the background; the people running the army kitchens, guarding the weapons; the people doing all the subsidiary, auxiliary work necessary in running an operational army.


Shouldn’t the people at the front lines receive more compensation? Jobs in the outside world are compensated according to the risk factor. As a job gets more and more dangerous it carries with it more and more pay. People who have to shimmy up electric poles, tree loggers who put their lives in danger – not to mention racing car drivers –  receive commensurately  higher wages. The greater the risk, the greater the pay. Wouldn’t it be more fair that the people who put more effort into fighting the enemy, those that put their lives on the line who run a higher risk of death, shouldn’t they receive greater benefit?


In order to get a truly committed soldier you need a soldier committed to the cause. If the soldier is in it for the money, if his drive is the dollar, then he’s not going to be a true soldier. A soldier has to defend his country because of his patriotic beliefs in his country. A soldier has to do battle because he believes in the results of the battle; what it’s going to achieve. That’s why we let anyone go to the back.  If he’s not going to fight because he believes it is worth fighting. If he’s just fighting for the money let him work in army kitchens. Somebody who really wants to protect his country will go to the front even without the lure of more money. That’s how we can weed out the people who are not fighting because they are really interested in the reason that they are waging battle, from people who will put their hearts and souls to succeed.


We should act in accordance with our beliefs rather than auction ourselves to the highest bidder.


Rabbi Herman (Naftoli)  Neuberger (1918 – 2005) President of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore was a successful fundraiser.

He was once confronted “Seeing as you are successful in your endeavors to fundraise why don’t you give fundraising courses for others so they can benefit from your skills and expertise?”

Reb Naftoli replied:  “The basis of successful fundraising is believing in what you’re doing and that’s something that can’t be taught. That’s something that has to be ingrained through belief and if you don’t give credence to what you are doing, you can have all the technique in the world it’s not going to help you. Belief in what your project will accomplish is not something that can be taught. That’s why I don’t give classes.”

Weekly Halacha

A bandage of negligible value may definitely be worn outdoors on Shabbos – even when there is no valid Eruv.

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