At some point during my mandatory military service, I and several other soldiers were sent from our base to another, small base. Three of us were religious and the rest – secular. Once we arrived, we realized that the kitchen was not kosher. There was no doubt about it.
We did what naïve religious soldiers do in such situations. We called our company commander, vowed that we would not set foot in the dining room until it had been made kosher by a certified representative of the Military Rabbinate, whose job itis to see that the IDF kitchens are kosher, and asked him to supply us with an alternative food source.The officer then ordered them to eat there anyway. Following his religion the soldier refused.
Now it was his turn to be shocked. "Are you refusing an order? If you do not enter the dining room, I will court martial you," he threatened.
"I am not refusing anything," I replied. "But I will not go into the dining room, even if you decide to court martial me and my comrades."Fortunately that threat faded away.
It was not easy, but it was very clear to us. An order that contravenes halakha [commandment] must not be followed, and if the price to pay is a military trial and punishment, so be it. Halakha comes first. The end of the story, by the way, was that we received combat rations that very evening, the kitchen was made kosher the next day, thanks to us, and the threat of a court martial was not mentioned again.Reading this story I could not help but think of how cruel and oppressive it was that HWA ordered his followers to adhere to his understanding of what meats were not to be eaten. His followers have often requested that staff at restaurants make their food in a particular way. They think that doing so will adhere to what HWA and Co. have taught.
But among observant Jews they simply do not eat any meat that is not kosher. If such persons see that a dining room does not meet kosher standards they simply not eat there at all. Jews wishing to observe these religious traditions have an entire community to help them observe these religious traditions. There are institutions to help them observe these religious traditions that are precious to them.
But when HWA ordered his followers he probably did not know about these things. HWA's followers had no supporting community like that to help observe such things. HWA blithely took his selective ideas to his followers. Any differences between what Jews observed and what HWA taught were dismissed as added traditions that HWA's followers did not need to observe. In doing so they were imitating Jewish practice but only to a small degree as decided by HWA. This practice is mutually demeaning to HWA's followers and to Jews whose precious religious traditions had been crudely imitated in a demeaning fashion by HWA without their permission.
It is terrible that HWA imposed this burden upon his followers by culturally appropriating the abstention of unclean meats as decided by himself. There is no need for HWA's followers to observe these things. It is clear that HWA was never used by God. Also it seems to me that it would be more respectful to Jews to simply leave this practice alone and leave it for them to observe alone.