Every IDF soldier is handed a card-sized copy of the “Spirit of the IDF”, a concise summary of Israel’s most cherished values and principles. Soldiers are exhorted to carry it around with them at all times and are instructed to live up to the principled contained therein.
During every soldier’s basic training, the “Spirit of the IDF” is read and analyzed in depth together with their commanders. It is customary for a framed copy of the “Spirit of the IDF” to be hung in every office to be a constant reminder of the IDF’s values and guidelines.
The “Spirit of the IDF” has three fundamental values:
- Defense of the State, its Citizens and Residents – The purpose of the IDF is to protect the existence of the state of Israel, its independence, and the security of its citizens and residents.
- Patriotism and Loyalty to the State – Service in the IDF is based on patriotism and on commitment and devotion to the State of Israel – a democratic state which is the national home of the Jewish people – and to its citizens and residents.
- Human Dignity – The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to preserve human dignity. All human beings are of inherent values regardless of race, creed, nationality, gender, status or role.
The following are ten additional values, derived from the above three. In no particular order, they are:
1. Human Life – A commander must only endanger his life and that of his soldiers to extent necessary to fulfill his mission.
2. Purity of Arms – A soldier must preserve his humanity at all times, even in the heat of battle. His weaponry must only be used in fulfillment of him mission
3. Personal Example – A soldier must conduct himself to the standard expected of him, and to the standard he expects of others, in order to serve as a role model both in the army and beyond it.
4. Responsibility – A soldier must demonstrate initiative, diligence and good judgment, and must be ready to accept responsibility for the consequences of his actions.
5. Comradeship – A soldier must always come to the aid of his fellow soldiers despite all danger and hardship, even at the risk of his life.
6. Professionalism – A soldier must seek to understand the best way possible through which to fulfill his mission and must continue to improve his own performance and that of his unit.
7. Discipline – A soldier must carry out his orders according to the letter and spirit of the law. Only lawful commands may be issued and manifestly unlawful commands must not be carried out.
8. Vocation – A soldier must see his service in the IDF as a personal calling. He must be devoted to contribute all he can to defend the State of Israel and all who live within her borders.
9. Reliability – A soldier must describe events accurately and not diverge from the truth so that his commanders and fellow soldiers can rely upon him in the fulfillment of their mission.
10. Dedication to Mission and the Pursuit of Victory – A soldier must act courageously in the face of any danger and must fulfill his mission with determination and good judgment, even if he must risk his own life.
These values resonate throughout the IDF and are continually implemented in the actions of its soldiers. A particularly moving example is the story of Maj. Roi Klein, of blessed memory, who jumped on a live grenade in the fiercely-waged battle of Bint Jbeil during the Second Lebanon War of 2006. Sacrificing his own life to spare those of his soldiers, Maj. Klein exhibited a heroism that truly embodies the values expressed in the “Spirit of the IDF”.