We have already written here of the righteous King Asa and his bold acts to restore the glory of G-d to Judah after it had fallen into idolatry. He certainly built a legacy as one of Judah’s greatest and most righteous kings. However, the prophet nevertheless records (I Kings 15:23):
…but in the time of his old age [Asa] became ill in his legs.
Why did G-d visit this unpleasantness upon the righteous Asa? The Talmud (Sotah 10A) explains:
Why was Asa punished? Because he forced the Sages into [national] service, as it says (I Kings 15:22): ‘And the king, Asa, called up [into service] all of Judah; none were excused’ …even a groom from his chamber and a bride from her wedding canopy.
As the debate rages in Israel over the drafting of yeshiva students into the army, and legislation moves forward to make the induction of budding scholars into the military a reality, those of us who study the past shake our heads in sad disbelief as a society repeats its past mistakes that may lead, G-d forbid, to a set of harsh consequences. I hope our legs stand firm through this.