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מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה, כל-יוצא צבא בישראל--תפקדו אותם לצבאותם, אתה ואהרון. (במדבר א:ג)‏

Rashi, commenting on Bamidbar 1:3, says that you should not join the army younger than 20.

Is it halachically permissible to be drafted before 20? The IDF has a mandatory draft at 18; the USA army accepts from 17, IIRC.

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@YEZ יוצא צבא בישראל not בארצות הברית –  NBZ May 21 at 20:31
    
@NBZ unless we are assuming it is prohibited to serve in another army (which I'm not saying either way), why is the question limited to such? –  YeZ May 21 at 20:34
    
all who are fit to go out to the army: This informs [us] that no one went out to the army below the age of twenty. כל יצא צבא: מגיד שאין יוצא בצבא פחות מבן עשרים: –  preferred May 21 at 20:35
    
From the chabad site you mentioned. I dont think this is the correct translation of rashi. –  preferred May 21 at 20:36
    
@YEZ Why does it say בישראל and not just כל-יוצא צבא תפקדו? –  NBZ May 21 at 20:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Rashi does not say that one should not join the army younger than 20, as the questioner put it. That is an interpretation read into the words of Rashi.

Rashi says:

כל יצא צבא: מגיד שאין יוצא בצבא פחות מבן עשרים: all who are fit to go out to the army: This informs [us] that no one went out to the army below the age of twenty.

This can be understood as an explanation of the verse, that in the army assembled by Moshe, the age at which they were selected / drafted was from 20 and up.

If you want to say that this comment of Rashi is halachically binding, and was intended as a halachic statement, and was intended for all generations, and as an instruction for someone who might submit to a draft, then you would need to point to a gemara, or a Rambam, or a Shulchan Aruch.

As it is, the Chabad translation (I believe from Judaica Press), which often lists Rashi's source, does not give any source here.

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I think this comment is correct that the translation should be "no one goes out". Otherwise, I don't really disagree that this cannot necessarily be taken as a Halachic statement LeMaiseh today. But if you were forming a Jewish army it might be relevant. –  Yishai May 22 at 4:00
    
I had been interpreting it as a recommendation, not a historical statement. If it can be interpreted as a statement, that clears things up for me. :) –  Scimonster May 22 at 4:59

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