"THE STARTING point and sine qua non for an understanding of the hesder program is the recognition that it is an attempt to strike a balance between two positive values whose practical demands compete with each other. These two ideals are Torah study and serving the nation. Both are perceived as imperative from a religious standpoint, yet total devotion to one value precludes participation in the other. When confronted with such a scenario in various life situations, there are two possible approaches: one may either choose one option exclusively and reluctantly forgo the other or attempt to create a dialectic that participates in both endeavors, fully aware that both pay a price in order to accommodate each other.

The first alternative is the path chosen by national religious yeshivot gevohot and the mechina (preparatory) programs. Students of the former choose Torah study over IDF service, while the latter opt for the army at the expense of the beit midrash, both preferring absolutes to dialectic action. Hesder, like modern Orthodoxy, is predicated upon the attempt to engage both values. It recognizes the inherent costs of such a decision, attempts to minimize them as much as possible, yet accepts that both Torah study and military service must be undertaken in order to allow participation in both. Although both are qualitatively enhanced by their mutual contact, this does not negate the quantitative issue or relieve the inherent frustration in the attempt to balance conflicting values."

- Harav Mosheh Lichtenstein, as reported in the Jerusalem Post - April 22, 2011

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