The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM JUDAISM -

Rabbi Ju­lian Sin­clair dips into the dic­tionary

MILUIM, army re­serve duty, is one of the re­mark­able char­ac­ter­is­tics of life in Is­rael. Af­ter com­plet­ing reg­u­lar army ser­vice at age 21, most peo­ple are called up for a round a month of miluim un­til they hit age 40. (Un­til re­cently it was 55.)

For some, miluim is a time to re­ceive es­sen­tial train­ing and skills up­dates. For oth­ers (gen­er­ally those closer to 40), it’s a pe­riod of mind-numb­ing bore­dom as the army tries to find some­thing for you to so that doesn’t over­strain your age­ing legs. For most, it gives a unique feel­ing of con­tribut­ing to the coun­try.

A miluimnik is some­one who reg­u­larly does his miluim ser­vice, with­out look­ing for ex­cuses to avoid it.

Miluim in the Bi­ble means con­se­cra­tion for a par­tic­u­lar task. Last week’s parashah, Shem­ini, speaks of the miluim of the priests at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the sanc­tu­ary. It comes from the verb l’maleh, mean­ing to fill — in this case with the knowl­edge to ful­fil a role. Ex­o­dus 25:7 speaks of avneim­iluim, stones that were to be in­set to fill a par­tic­u­lar place. It is strik­ing that the founders of the IDF chose this word for re­serve duty. At its best, miluim can still be con­se­cra­tion to a sa­cred duty.

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