Yeshivas affiliated with Ashkenazi haredi rebel faction leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach have reportedly begun to allow their students to report to IDF induction centers and get draft deferments – but not because the faction supports the IDF or the draft. In the past, Auerbach’s faction repeatedly refused to allow its yeshiva students to answer their draft notices and report – even to get their automatic draft deferments – and several of those yeshiva students have been jailed as a result. But something has changed.
Above: Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
Fearful Of Losing State Financial Support, Some Haredi Yeshivas Begin Quietly Cooperating With The IDF
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
According to a report in Yeshiva World based on a report by the haredi Hebrew language news website Kikar HaShabbat, Yeshiva Beit Matityahu – a haredi yeshiva affiliated with Ashkenazi haredi rebel faction leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach – sent letters to parents of its students ordering them not to allow their sons to report to the IDF induction center for the first step of the draft induction process.
Haredim are allowed to report for this first step, state they are full time yeshiva students and refuse to be drafted, at which point they are given an automatic deferment from Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon of the Likud Party – even though the High Court of Justice disapproves of these haredi-only deferments and has made clear they violate Israeli law, unless Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can provide the High Court with facts proving otherwise. So far, Ya’alon and Netanyahu have engaged in a long period of stalling and deception that has lasted more than a year, and the High Court has repeatedly told them its patience is running thin.
Auerbach’s faction has repeatedly refused to allow its yeshiva students to answer their draft notices and report, even to get their deferments, and several of those yeshiva students have been jailed as a result.
But as the government’s ability to stall the High Court approaches its end, some Auerbach-affiliated yeshivas, including Yeshiva Beit Matityahu, have unceremoniously begun to tell parents of students to have their sons report to the IDF induction center for the first step of the induction process and get their deferments.
But the reason for this change of heart is reportedly not theological or political. Instead, the reason for the change in policy appears to be purely financial.
Under pressure from the High Court, the government recently told haredi yeshivas that if their students do not answer their draft notices and report to induction centers – albeit just to get their almost certainly illegal exemptions – state funding to those yeshivas will be cut off.
The letter sent by Yeshiva Beit Matityahu to parents reportedly says that parents must have their sons report to the IDF induction center to avoid a sharp increase in tuition fees.
Since the new law drafting haredi yeshiva students was passed more than a year ago, the policy of the so-called mainstream Ashkenazi haredi faction headed by Rabbi Aaron Yehuda Leib Steinman has been to have its yeshiva students report to an IDF induction center, get their deferments and leave.
State funding for haredi yeshivas was dramatically increased last month by the coalition deal made between Netanyahu's and Ya’alon’s Likud Party and the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), and even though Auerbach’s faction is not part of UTJ (which is controlled by Steinman), it will still benefit from the deal UTJ made – if it complies with (at least) the very minimal level of cooperation with the IDF Steinman’s faction follows.
All major Ashkenazi haredi rabbis in Israel purport to believe that the Torah study of haredi yeshiva students is what actually protects Israel from harm – not the IDF.
However, during last summer’s Gaza War when missiles and other explosives were raining down on southern Israeli cities, many haredi yeshivas fled en masse to the center or north of the country, while most Zionist Orthodox yeshivas – whose students serve in the IDF – stayed put in the south and continued full time study sessions.