In a letter published on the front page of his newspaper Yated Ne'eman, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most senior haredi rabbi, called on his followers to boycott all programs set up for them in education, national and military service.
Ultra-Orthodox leader calls for boycott of IDF, college programs
Rabbi Elyashiv's letter published on the front page of Yated Neeman, at the height of the tensions and conflicts going on in Bet Shemesh.
By Yair Ettinger • Ha’aretz
The most senior of Haredi rabbis has called on his followers to boycott all programs set up for them in education, national and military service.
In a letter published on Tuesday and described as "historic, of incredible significance for now and future generations" by his followers, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv - who is considered the leader of the Lithuanian non-Hasidic faction of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews - called for a total boycott of frameworks, such as the programs that enable Haredim to serve in separate army units or learn a profession in the IDF, and the colleges where thousands of ultra-Orthodox study. He said such programs are subjugated to the control and culture of those who have "thrown off the burden [of the commandments]."
Rabbi Elyashiv's letter was published on the front page of his newspaper, Yated Neeman. The letter was published at the height of the tensions and conflicts going on in Bet Shemesh. On Monday, the main headline in the paper referred to a "Campaign of planned incitement against the Haredi community," and on Tuesday the dramatic letter was intended to raise the barriers between the Haredi camp and the outside world.
"We must protest and warn of all sorts of trends from outside to harm the pure cruse of oil, who found 'special frameworks for Haredim,' which will be under their full control and spirit," he wrote.
Writing about the Haredi colleges founded in recent years, Elyashiv warned they will "bring in foreign ambitions absorbed from the outside, and their goal is to bring a change in the spirit and essence of the Haredi public, and act to introduce all sorts of other aspirations, national and enlightenment which our forefathers did not know; and to integrate and connect them with the nonreligious life and the culture of evil people." He called on his followers to perform the "will of our heavenly father" and walk only in the path of tradition.
Here's more of the letter:
“The secret and foundation to the survival of Torah and of those who fear G-d and live a life of Torah is absolute separation from the world of the secular, who have thrown off the yoke of Torah. As such we must protest and warn against all sorts of trends from the outside that seek to harm the pure oil of the hareidi institutions. These institutions must be under the control of the rabbis and must be guided by them, and must exclude all paths that lead to national service, secular studies, or the army, even if they assure a special framework for hareidi Jews. Such a framework will subject hareidi Jews to the control and culture of secular Jews who have thrown off the yoke of Torah. Thus they encourage all sorts of programs, academies, colleges, and the like which promise degrees, licenses, academic credentials, etc., intended to introduce goals and aspirations foreign to our way of life. This is in direct contradiction to the instructions of the the great rabbis of previous generations, who battled against all institutions that had these purposes, and removed them from the 'camp of Torah.' This is especially the case now, where the institutions make clear that their purpose is to change our ways of life, and to instill foreign aspirations – nationalistic and academic – that our forefathers never accepted, bringing us to make inappropriate connections with secular people, those of the 'culture of sinners.'”