HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner: Prepare To Go To Prison


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HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva Kaminitz and a member of the Moetzas Gedolei Torah speaks out against what the rav calls “The Shas HaShmad” (שעת שמד). The Rosh Yeshiva addressed hundreds of talmidim to bring them up to date regarding the worrisome situation in Eretz HaKodesh — the imminent drafting of tens of thousands of avreichim.

“We are in a “shas hashmad” and as such, we must act differently, there are different halachos. They want to eliminate torah and we must be prepared to go to prison”. Rav Sheiner read the letter sent by Rav Baruch Ber of Kaminitz regarding army service, telling his talmidim everyone must go to prison.

The rosh yeshiva interrupted the regular seder to gather his talmidim to share his concerns, his trepidation over the impending “gezeira in Eretz HaKodesh”.

“I don’t know if the tzibur is aware of the situation in Eretz Yisrael. They wish to uproot the yeshivos. Every ben torah at the age of 18 will be required to enter into the army. There will be no yeshivos. Anyone who does not report will be hit with large fines. We are speaking of 100,000 NIS and other measures against them as well. The gezeira is ready for implementation and this means this is a שעת שמד as we have known in the past.

The rosh yeshiva adds “They hate the torah. They hate bnei torah and want to eliminate the torah, and therefore, we are obligated to act differently than our norm. We are compelled to strengthen our learning and mesirus nefesh to a level we have never done. There is a new reality and this must be our הלכה למעשה.

“This is the “מכה בפטיש” that we have not know, but it is all but certain there will be a gezeira that will close yeshivos and we must be ready to go to prison and even worse”.

Everyone must look at the introduction of ברכת שמואל, the letter from Rav Boruch Ber regarding strengthening torah davka in times like this, and he paskens that during times such as these, one must be moser nefesh, and if possible, to be moser nefesh that the yeshivos should not be closed, bringing a proof from the gemara”.

The Rosh Yeshiva concludes by instructing every talmid to strengthen limud torah as one has never done before in one’s life. Not to waste a single moment of one’s life, not to hang out in the streets, but to go to sleep at night immediately after one’s seder.

“I don’t say what you should do but in Volozin they learned around the clock”, repeating these words as if to instruct talmidim that this is what they must attempt to do as well.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. It is begining to sound very frightening. I hope unity amongst all the Frum sectors could make Chilonim realise that they are dealing with huge masses of people. And antagonising so many people will hurt their image around the whole world. But we shouldn’t be so certain that these issues and the attention it will seek around the world will make much difference to the Chilonims intentions. They have a mission of uprooting Torah. We are in the Achris Hayumim, the powers of evil are strengthing, because they know their end is coming nearer. It’s like a person fighting for his life, he doesn’t care what havoc he leaves in his path, he has to live as long as he possibly could.

  2. We need to do a better PR job in explaining our hashkafa to the world.

    Meanwhile even in our own chareidi circles we hear baalie batim constantly saying “whats wrong with going to the army”.

    Just screaming gzeirea hashmad doesnt explain WHY its gezieras hashmad.

    Also isnt Rav Shteinman one of the supporters of Nachal Chareidi? If going to the army is shmad how come he supports it?

  3. In all due respect, the logic of “…They wish to uproot the yeshivos. Every ben torah at the age of 18 will be required to enter into the army. There will be no yeshivos…” is seriously fflawed, if not outright hysteria. Would the hilonim say “…They wish to uproot the educated. Every boy at the age of 18 will be required to enter into the army. There will be no universities..?”

    You guys expect as a matter of right…of theological right….all matter of subsidies from the government, paid for by other peoples’ taxes…but you fail to grasp most basic aspects citizenship responsibility…and worst of all, you hide under the skirts of Torah.

  4. #6, “You guys expect”. ולפי שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל, כפר בעיקר.

    We do not demand subsidies as a theological right; we take whatever share of the political spoils wo which the system that you created entitles us. We pay taxes like anybody else, and in an political system where every other sector grabs as much of the pie as they can we’d be crazy not to. We’d be just as happy with a system where nobody is taxed to pay for anybody else, where we don’t have to subsidise universities and kibbutzim and obscene art projects and avodah zarah and the Supreme Court, etc., and you didn’t have to subsidise our kollelim and yeshivos. But you’d be unhappy with such a system so you’ll never implement it.

    you hide under the skirts of Torah.

    Do those skirts exist or not? Do they justify our position or not? If they do, then why should we not “hide under” them? The Torah defines what is right and wrong, after all.

  5. Also isnt Rav Shteinman one of the supporters of Nachal Chareidi? If going to the army is shmad how come he supports it?

    Nobody said going to the army is shmad. Those who are not learning anyway should go, provided that their yiddishkeit is not harmed, which the Nachal Charedi was supposed to ensure. Unfortunately we’ve had reports of some spectacular failures, e.g. the kol isha concerts. But if those can be corrected, then there is no objection and has never been an objection to bochurim or yungerleit who are no longer learning to do army service.

    The gezeira that’s on the table now is sh’as hashmad; and in a sh’as hashmad even innocuous gestures become dangerous.

  6. YonasanW,

    Let’s see. On the one side we have Rav Shteinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and Rav Sheiner. On the other side, disagreeing with them, we have an anonymous commenter who calls himself YonasanW. Huh. I wonder whose side we should take…

  7. #2, Rav Stainman does NOT support all Yeshiva men to join Nachal Chareidi. His position is, if a bochur is not learning and idling his time on the streets and beyond, its preferable for him to join the army. Tens of thousands of Benei Torah in EY do learn and hold dear the Torah learning, obviously they are not supposed to join the army under any circumstance, according to rav Stainman

  8. #8 #10 I’m NOT saying that the situtation is not bad, I was just saying that we are failing in terms of PR, the majority of klal yisroel including many many frum people dont understand our own hashkafa, they are confused, on one hand they see gedolim like Rav Shteinman supporting Nachal Chareidi and on the other hand they see gedolim calling the army shmad.

    So we need to go out and do some PR and EXPLAIN not just hock and attack.

  9. I’d agree with Aaron B’s comments that we need talented writers, which embrace our time honored hashkafa to explain our position. Why can’t the participants of this forum combine our talents and clarify our position to the public? We could firstly define what requires explanation and jointly tackle the issues at hand. Our team of writers and sound thinkers could collaborate and edit each other works before going public. Google Docs could serve as the perfect platform for our efforts. If anyone is interested in helping spearhead this endeavor, please contact me directly at ruchi11218’at’gmail.com

    This is the calling of the day!! The talented among us are being drafted to the front lines of journalism with their weaponized pens to honorably fight for our Holy Torah!!! Please pass this comment along (cut and paste) to anyone whom you believe is eligible to assist in the effort.

  10. Milhouse, I disagree on one point. I would not want to destroy the zchus the chilonim get from their unintentional support of harbotzas torah.

  11. If the kind of mesirus nefesh for Torah that R. Sheiner is talking about was ever the norm in the first place in the haredi world, there would be absolutely zero issues right now.

    Unfortunately, a system and society where a sense of taking it all for granted generally became ingrained over the years has led us to this terrible, terrible pirud in am yisrael.

  12. I guess this is the final BIRUR (test) that is discussed in the CHAZA”L before Moshiach comes.

    “Eis tzorah hu leyaakov, umemenu yivosheya.”

    Now, we’ll find out who are the loyal Torah Jews, and who are the turncoats.

  13. Yowzas, maybe we can all settle down a bit. I know the whole “the world’s out to get us & they’re controlled by the big bad Zionists” thing is very appealing. It’s also effective at accomplishing a specific goal of rallying the troops. However, it’s hysteria in this situation. The big bad Zionists are not out to rid the world of Torah & Mitzvos. Are there anti-religious Zionists? Are there people in the State that hate religion? Yes, but they are a minority just like the Neturei Karta who meet with the Iranian president. The majority of Israelis believe in Hashem & are religious to one extent or another (80% according to yet another recently published study in Israel that I saw this week). No one is asking the chareidi tzibur to close their yeshivas or to drop religion & learning. They are simply asking for help.

    Now, let’s look at this article a bit closer – someone apparently heard and translated a quote from the Rosh Yeshiva that says “Every ben torah at the age of 18 will be required to enter into the army. There will be no yeshivos.” I have no idea if the rav actually did say this or not – was this just made up? Was it misquoted? Was it mistranslated? I dunno. However, assuming that it is accurate to what the rav said – then there are some major issues. The government discussions at this point are NOT saying that every 18 year old ben Torah will be drafted to the army. In fact, the plan is to allow some full time learners to get a defferment and some to have to serve. Also, no one said they will have to serve in the army – they are being given a choice of army OR a CHESED program (called Sheirut Leumi, National Service). The fact that the rav is quoted as having said this tells us that the person who has been informing the rav of the situation has neglected to tell him the truth or the whole truth. Unfortunately, this is often the case – there are askanim that have very specific & biased intentions when they ask a question of a rav or give him information or even when they “quote” him.

    Additionally, if some chareidim are asked to help serve, this in no way means “there will be no yeshivos.” Are there no other people in the chareidi basei midrashim?? Only boys who are 18 – 20?? Perhaps the other chareidi tzibur members need to pitch in for a bit to cover while those boys are serving. Oh, and there are hours before & after “service hours” for soldiers & national service members. Just like all the frum people of the world that work & learn or serve & learn – the yeshivas can & should stay open. Perhaps they’ll need to adjust their hours a bit but it’s worth it.

  14. And I assume everyone thinks the condition for limud torah and keeping mitzvos are better in Israeli jails then in Israeli Army. I guess the goal of haredim to make sure that majority of hilonim who may disagree with haredim (but not hate them) will finally start hating them. If anyone thinks it’s a great Kidush hashem, I feel sorry for them!

  15. To AlexFromNY: We follow the advice of our Sages, the Torah leaders that don’t bend with the wind or latest politics. If the Sages say don’t join army even at risk of jail, then jail is better. Surprise, surprise, a Kiddush Hashem is not what you may think it is. It is what the Torah says it is.

  16. Is anyone aware that there are gedolim and Torah leaders who do believe in serving the country? I know it’s hard to believe that there may be another opinion but there are True Torah Jews that support it. Like Rav Nebenzahl, who was the head rav of the Old City of Yerushalayim. Stop with the “my daddy’s smarter than your daddy” line of reasoning. There are many valid opinions in the Torah world, even amongst gedolim. Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel disagreed about just about everything under the sun but they still respected eachother’s opinions. They didn’t declare someone who disagrees with them as sonei yisroel.

  17. lets call a spade a spade the chareidim dont have to go to the army if they dont want to ,the new law as the the old tal law was a FUNDING law the gov will cut SOME funding if the yeshivos wont comply its a question of MONEY not shmad .When the chareidim started taking money in the 50s they knew this might be the consequence that the gov will dictate to them what to do they constantly compromised for ex ,every teacher in every school which takes funding needs a college degree with gov mandated courses in every school ,a BIG secret since we american chareidim would never tolerate something like that its gov money either comply or find other funding NO SHMAD HERE !!!

  18. i agree that there are great rabbanim who think we should help out in the army or national service. some are just afraid to voice their opinions because of the backlash. i’ve learned with rebbeim that have told me so. i don’t really agree that this is just about money. we owe something of ourselves even if we don’t take money from the government. yes, we give with our learning but a few people have said that we never show it the right way. some of us act as if we’re better than them and i’ve only seen a couple of chareidi shuls or yeshivas that dedicate learning for the soldiers. i don;t remember any chareidi place davening for Gilad Shalit when he was hostage for 5 years. i do see others like me who walk in the chardal world but not enough.