Ultra-Orthodox leaders are calling on Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews not to volunteer in Magen David Adom, Israel's version of the Red Cross, claiming that serving in the rescue organization leads to serious religious prohibitions and leads to spiritual danger.
Haredi rabbis: Don't volunteer in MDA
Halachic ruling issued by senior ultra-Orthodox leaders says religious public must only volunteer in organizations 'operating according to the way of Torah'. Rescue organization in response: We honor our religious volunteers' lifestyle
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Ultra-Orthodox leaders are calling on the religious public not to volunteer in Magen David Adom, claiming that serving in the rescue organization leads to serious religious prohibitions and leads to spiritual danger.
The sector's newspapers published an ad signed by senior haredi leaders, including leader of the Lithuanian faction Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbis Nissim Karelitz, Chaim Kanievsky, Aharon Leib Shteinman, the Sanz and Erlau Rebbes and others.
In the call, directed to "dear volunteers engaged in saving lives in the Holy Land," the rabbis rule that volunteers must favor haredi rescue services operating across the country and must not volunteer with MDA.
The ad is part of the ongoing battle between haredi rabbis and the national emergency organization, following MDA's attempt to recruit young ultra-Orthodox people for civilian service.
Modesty, observance problems
"We hereby inform you that it is forbidden to volunteer in the Magen David Adom organization even for the purpose of saving lives," the rabbis wrote, adding that it was only permitted to volunteer "in an organization which conducts everything according to the way of Torah and Halacha."
According to the rabbis, "Volunteering not through these organizations may, God forbid, lead to serious prohibitions - both in terms of general conduct and spiritual influence, and in terms of Torah prohibitions and particularly Shabbat laws."
Talking to Ynet, sources involved in the ad pointed to difficult modesty problems the organization's haredi activists are forced to with. "MDA is the only national organization in the State which does not have a rabbi," one of them said.
MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said response, "Magen David Adom is Israel's national rescue organization which engages in saving lives 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
"As the rest of the security forces, like the IDF, the police and the firefighting services, MDA is particularly careful in maintaining and respecting the religious lifestyle of hundreds of its workers and volunteers who engage in saving lives routinely and during emergencies, on weekdays, Saturdays and holidays."