Haredi Rabbis Call On Government To Stop Haredi Draft
“[Do] not change in any way the state of affairs regarding yeshiva students which has been in effect from ancient times here in the Land of Israel”
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Degel HaTorah’s Council of Torah Sages reportedly met Monday night in the Bnei Brak home of 98-year-old haredi leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman and issued a statement calling on the Government of Israel not to draft any of the 54,000 haredi yeshiva students who, until the unconstitutional Tal Law expired August 1, had been legally able to evade both the military draft and national service.
“The Council of Torah Sages deeply regrets the wave of incitement against the haredi community, especially against the holy Torah students, in whose merit the world continues to exist.…[do] not change in any way the state of affairs regarding yeshiva students which has been in effect from ancient times here in the Land of Israel,” a translated excerpt from the council’s statement reads. (The full Hebrew letter is posted below.)
The letter calls on haredi yeshiva students to refuse to be drafted, and tells them not to sgn any IDF documents. It urges them to learn Torah, whose merit will save them from the draft.
Degel Hatorah makes up the non-hasidic faction of the haredi United Torah Judaism political party. Agudat Yisrael, which represents hasidim (except Chabad, Breslov and sometimes Belz) and has been dominated for decades by the Gerrer hasidic dynasty’s leadership, makes up the party’s other faction.
The council is headed by Shteinman, who is the new leader of non-hasidic ‘Lithuanian’ haredim.
In haredi circles, Shteinman (sometimes spelled “Steinman”) is considered to be a moderate.
The meeting was supposed to include a peace conference of sorts between Shteinman and his faction on one hand and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the octogenarian hardliner from Jerusalem on the other.
But despite the hype surrounding the meeting, Auerbach – who lost a bid for haredi leadership earlier this summer – failed to attend.
Last night’s meeting was also meant to appoint new members to the council to replace its members who have passed away, including Rabbi Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and the immediate past haredi leader, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who passed away after a 6-month illness last month. He was 102-years-old.
Auerbach reportedly boycotted the “unity” meeting at last minute when it became clear that his choices for new members had been rejected by Shteinman’s faction.
It is rumored that Auerbach may also resign in protest.
The current council members are Shteinman; Auerbach; Nissim Karlitz, head of a rabbinical court in Bnei Brak; Meir Tzvi Bergman, rosh yeshiva (dean) of the Rashbi yeshiva in Bnei Brak; Gershon Edelstein, rosh yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak; and Yitzhak Shteiner, rosh yeshiva of the Kamenitz Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
All of those senior rabbis attended last night’s meeting, except for Auerbach.