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Monday, January 16, 2012

Rav Elyashiv speaks out against all 'Haredi frameworks' in the army and academia

I have a childhood friend who was one of the founders of the original Nachal Charedi - the first Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) only unit in the IDF. My friend once told me that when they started the unit, they spent a long time seeking the consents of prominent rabbis, and finally reached the conclusion that while the rabbis would not openly consent, they would not openly oppose the unit either, and therefore they decided to go ahead with it.

Over the last several years, the unit has expanded into two new units. There have also been several frameworks opened in which Charedim could study trades and professions. These were opened because of the realization that this was the best way - from the general society's standpoint - to encourage Charedim to become economically self-sufficient.

The events of the last couple of months have taken their toll, and three weeks ago, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv issued a letter in which he came out against (but did not outright ban) all 'Charedi only' frameworks in the army and outside of the yeshivot. I was not aware of the letter, which was reported on in some of the secular media (see the link above from which I will quote momentarily) and which appeared only in Yated Neeman, a Charedi newspaper. Here's some of what Rav Elyashiv said.
In a letter to haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman, Elyashiv said that “the secret and foundation of the Torah world and the community of those who fear God and live a life of Torah and holy purity is through complete isolation from all aspects of the secular world, and from those who have thrown off the yoke of Torah.

“We know how much the [spiritual] leaders of Israel struggled against this phenomenon,” he continued.

“They warned that the purpose of these programs is to change the spirit and essence of the haredi world and to subvert it with all different types of other influences, nationalist and enlightenment ones, which are not the values of our fathers.”

He called on the haredi community to follow only in the footsteps of ancient tradition and not be enticed by the blandishments of the secular world.

“Haredi educational institutions must be under the control of the rabbis, must be directed by them and must exclude all paths that lead to national service, secular studies or the army, even if they have a special programs for haredim. Such a programs put haredim under the control and culture of secular Jews.”
Last week, perhaps in response to Rav Elyashiv's letter, the IDF backtracked on women singing. But on Monday, in my neighborhood, the letter is posted on wall posters (known as pashkevilim) in the streets. Since most Charedim do not read newspapers (except for some who might read the Tuesday Yated which is handed out free to try to induce people to subscribe), the pashkevilim are likely to have a far greater circulation within the community than any newspaper. The fact that the letter has been plastered through the streets now shows that the issue is not dying. I cannot tell you with certainty that the order to post it in the streets came from Rav Elyashiv himself (frequently, these letters get hung by zealous followers), but I cannot tell you that it did not.

There are some commenters whose response will be "the Charedim have to change." They won't. If a rabbi of Rav Elyashiv's stature tells them to go to jail rather than serve in the army, there won't be enough jail cells to hold them all. And without any kind of vocational training (much of which, by the way, comes from the army) it will be nearly impossible for those who leave the yeshivot to find any kind of legal (and by that I mean above-the-board, tax paying) work. We're edging toward that abyss. Will we step back?

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At 11:26 AM, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

The Erev Ze'ir is very sick spiritually and emotionally. Eliyashiv is exacerbating an unhealthy situation. He enabled the evacuation catastrophe when he sent a letter of intent on the 9th of Tevet, 5765 to join Sharon's government after Tommy Lapid had taken his 15 seats out of the government. And he remained totally silent about what he had enabled for the ensuing months before the Churban. So I have learned to find a gadol hador who is a true tzaddik who opposed the Evacuations from the beginning. There are many tzaddikim who are not part of the Erev Ze'ir. The responsibility to find them is up to the individual Shomer Emunah. We cannot have a Gadol HaDor chosen for us in this post-Achronic Era. With the passing of Rav Moshe, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Rav Auerbach, this responsibility is ours alone now. We have to actively seek out tzaddikim to guide us.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Trumpeldor said...

What a pity !
Nahal Hareidi is a huge success and should proceed full speed !

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Dov Bar Leib,

What happened in 2005 was far more complicated than you make it sound.


At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

im not a gadol and would be the last to question the rav, however, who does the rav think fought the wars and worked the fields before the galus?

also, how does this bring those who are not frum closer to hashem, if the rav thinks those that do serve the country and do an avodah along with learning, have "thrown off the yolk of torah"

someone needs to show the rav the current stats of those who have left the derech as a result of this very narrow understanding of how to serve hashem.

the fact is...rav elyashav is no rav moshe...there was a gadol who engaged with and understood the world around him

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I'm not sure that Rav Elyashiv's concerns are identical to yours.

See here http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/the-making-of-talmidei-chachomim

(And if you have it and are capable of reading the original Hebrew - I suggest reading the three pages of the Michtav inside. It explains a lot about the Charedi educational system in Israel).

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No time to read the articles linked to here in the comments.

IMO, Rav Elyashiv should have told them to go in the army and disobey any order against Halacha. Not taking that route should tell everyone what Rav Elyashiv really thinks about forming a proper Jewish army and defending Am Yisrael.

Dov, I had to laugh at your use of the term "Erev Za'ir" but then I wiped the smile off my face in honor of great Torah scholars, whom I am not shy to say have been making bad decisions for decades on certain matters.

Indeed, we are a Dor Yetomim. Who's yo daddy?!

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Well, sounds like an in-house food fight to me. But from a distance (and with events happening where I am), I would say that the basic structure... the govt confiscating from one group (without their choice) and handing to another... is not a Torah based approach (or if it is, please point me to the chapter & verse... I am teachable). It may be an approach developed by later Rabbis... which may bring up conflict of interest issues. This is why I keep wanting to get back to Torah Economics. Re-starting with the basic treatises. Just like the military issue... The word "framework" is a Euro socialist term right from the word go. Militaries, if you want your soldiers to live a long life, are vertical, not socialist horizontal. The soldiers have to comply with the chain of command while they serve, not comply with some (any!) outside direction. They are not unionized, with a union structure matrixed with the company management. While outside people can (and do, since we have civilians over the whole of the military) influence what happens, but to have a formal system of dabbling into the chain of command seems dangerous to the force members from the start.

At 4:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the army or out of the army people should learn a trade. So don't join the army--these Nachal units are voluntary and the ultra-orthodox community is not subject to a compulsory draft yet, is it? But the yungling can't count on indefinite economic support from the state. It's good to engage with the practical world and learn to overcome obstacles that resist logical solutions only, just rationality, that require your logic to be linked to active physical and mental effort to transform a small bit of the world in reality according to somebody else's specfications and the material's own essential nature. You might also use caution in following advice to enter an environment which is fundamentally non-democratic in order to demonstratively engage in civil-disobedience over halacha.


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