When I need an operation, I go to a surgeon, not a butcher. When you get into trouble with the law, you want the best attorney representing you, not just some articled clerk. Only licensed electricians should play around with wiring, and if you’re not a master builder you’re not going to be renovating my house. First rule in life is to put yourself in the hands of professionals; they know what they’re doing, you pay for their expertise, and you have a far greater chance of ending up satisfied in the long run.

You want to risk using an amateur? Be my guest; you might just get lucky. You might just meet that handyman from heaven with a heart of gold and a gift for brain surgery and electrical alarm systems, and absolute proficiency with the legal system. However, the one occupation I am absolutely convinced should never be undertaken by the uninitiated is the military.

It may be tempting to claim a deferment from duty, but when fighting G‑d’s fight, everyone is a professional soldierIf you want to be romantic, you can describe amateur soldiers as guerillas or even a militia, but too often they are nothing but a mob. Bad things happen when you give the wrong people weapons; a trail of violence and mayhem is the usual result of using the wrong material to make soldiers.

Even in times of war or universal conscription, some guys are army surplus. Not everyone has the temperament to be part of the regular military; many of us are cowards, while others have psychological hangups or physical deformities that earn them a discharge.

The Army of G‑d

The amazing thing about the Jews of Moses’ era was that every single one of them was drafted, and every one of them made the grade. G‑d commanded Moses: “Count the entire congregation of the Children of Israel, of those twenty years and older, all who are fit to join the army of Israel” (Numbers 1:2). No one malingered, not one of them was deemed physically unfit or mentally incapable. They were all equally privileged to join G‑d’s battalion, and they rallied to His cause.

Just a few weeks before, we had gathered around the base of Mt. Sinai to receive our marching orders from G‑d. These orders were for everyone: the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong. It may be tempting to claim a deferment from duty, leaving the war to others, but the truth is that when fighting G‑d’s fight, everyone is a professional soldier. We have all got a role to play in the battle of life, and we dare not shirk our duty. We were all willing, so G‑d made a miracle to ensure that we would all be able.

In our lifelong struggle for goodness and G‑dliness, we need everyone on side. Should even one of us go AWOL, we would all be in danger, and history would be the poorer for the omission. We enlisted on a lifelong mission, and we will keep on struggling and conquering until our Commander-in-Chief finally blows the shofar bugle to summon us back home, with the battle finally won.