Unlimitaed Commander


" For 1st Lt. Boaz Vituk, being a United States Army chaplain is more than a job or even a career; it’s a calling, the fulfill- ment of a mission directed by the “ultimate commander.” "

The mission began when Vituk, now 26, was born into a Jew- ish family in the Ukraine. Soon after his birth, the family immigrated to Israel, where he attended various Chabad schools. When he was 16, his parents sent him to the Lu- bavitch Yeshiva in Manchester to study. Although his stay was only one year, the experience left an indelible imprint.
“Vituk found it difficult at first to adjust to life in a new country that was so different from Israel, but the fellowship and spiritual guidance he found at Yeshiva Manchester helped to ease the transition. The school served as a beacon of light where he found brotherhood and inspiration. He forged a special bond with the other students, many of whom did not speak English.

“We managed to build a stronger union despite our different languages and backgrounds,” said Vituk. “Being at the yeshiva helped us go outside and affect people. The teachers gave me a live lesson in how to be a candle of light. I learned what selfless service means.”

After returning to Israel and completing his studies, Vituk decided to become a chaplain in the U.S. Army. Military service appealed to his adven- turous spirit and his desire to bring light to the nations of the world. Part of the preparation included obtaining specialized training in counseling and becoming a U.S. citizen.

As one of very few Jewish chaplains and only nine active duty rabbis in the U.S. Army, Vituk provides spiritual guidance to more than 1500 soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Because basic training is conducted at this base, many of the soldiers are experiencing army life for the first time. For some, it is their first time away from home.
Vituk helps with the various challenges involved in making the adjustment from civilian to soldier.

“Basic training can be stressful,” he said. “My job is to support them mentally and spiritually so they can accomplish their mission. I am their spiritual advisor on family issues, life issues, anything a soldier is going through in life – the chaplain is there to help.”

Although the majority of soldiers within Vituk’s spiritual jurisdiction are not Jewish, he finds that the teachings from his background apply univer- sally, regardless of the specific problem or religious denomination.

“All the wisdom in the world, all the secrets of creation are already written in the Torah. All the answers to life’s questions are there,” said Vituk. “By knowing Tanya and Kabbalah, I can help every soldier, whether Jewish or not.”

Vituk, who counsels an average of ten soldiers a day, said he uses an approach that involves seeing things from a positive viewpoint and finding the goodness in every situation, even if it is not readily apparent. He likens military life to the larger idea of a higher power, which he refers to as “the ultimate commander.” He said that every mission involves steps that have to be executed in order to fulfill the intent of the leader and that it helps to consider the bigger picture.

“Many times a soldier is asked to do things and he doesn’t understand why,” said Vituk. “When it comes to the ‘lowest of the low’, a soldier may be asked to lie in the mud, or handle dead bodies. That’s when the ‘com- mander’s intent’ comes into play; the greater mission. This is an example for life. Why are we here, what is the purpose of life? We have to look at the greater purpose.”

Vituk’s work is endorsed by the Aleph Institute, a national organiza- tion which offers support and assistance to Jewish men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces by providing Jewish books and other materials, Kosher ish soldiers preparing to go overseas are referred to Jewish resources near their new locations so they can continue to practice their Judaism from anywhere in the world.

In addition to his general chaplaincy duties, Vituk and his wife, Chaya Yehudit, serve local Jewish resi- dents and visitors by offering religious services, Torah classes, and holiday celebrations. They help facilitate Jewish ceremonies such as brit milot or wedding cer- emonies by providing necessary supplies or spiritual guidance.

“I have the best job in the world,” he said. “I get to help turn on the lights and push away the darkness. We do this through acts of love, kindness, and charity. This is the beauty of my work and that of every Jew.”

“i have the best job in the world,” he said. “i get to help turn on the lights and push away the darkness.

We do this through acts of love, kindness, and charity.

this is the beauty of my work and that of every Jew.”