Maran Rav Kanievsky on Chareidi Conscription


The Tuesday morning 20 Tammuz edition of Yated Ne’eman carries a letter from Maran HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita addressing ongoing efforts to draft most of the nation’s avreichim.

The rav warns of the possible blow to the yeshiva world, “the contamination of the pure flask of oil”.

“Watch out regarding your lives and your very existence for our very right to exist in Israel is from the merit of those bnei torah whose entire existence surrounds their studies. This was simple and clear to every Jew since becoming a nation the great dangers associated with tampering with their purity, the bnei yeshivos, and to chas v’sholom bring foreign thoughts to them.

Everyone is responsible to decry this and to support the bnei torah, not the opposite chas v’sholom ובנפשנו הדבר הזה…”

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. In other words, the ones who are risking their lives and get killed on the battle front are dying in vain and wasting their time. Why is their blood cheaper than the blood of those learning in yeshivas taking money from the medinah? Can someone please explain it to me?

  2. NiceJew
    no one said their blood is cheaper besides for you – in the chareidi perspective its the chayal’s choice not to be in yeshiva and you know very well that should he choose to learn he would be warmly accepted – Do you see this effort as good faith bc army is suffering or purposely getting under the skin of chareidim for ulterior motives???

  3. Well, when you have an army that has soldiers violate shabbos.. it’s not a matzav a frum person should be in.. Maybe the IDF should clean itself up.. with the way the IDF runs itself it is not the army that is defending Eretz Yisrael but those who are spending their time in learning. Yehoshua Ben Nun would never run the army of Am Yisrael the way the IDF is being run..

  4. In Navie and Gemara we find that the Jewish way to fight is 1/3 on the fronts one third (man for man) to learn and daven and 1/3 are the supply lines. All are equal partners in Kiyum am Yisroel. Without Torah and Tfillah the fighters don’t stand a chance. If we toy with the Torah formula and believe our country can beat millions of Arabs bderech hateva………… bit do we have a reality problem!

  5. Can someone explain it to me too?? I understand the importAnce of learning Torah, but if they want to live in Israel and have their freedom, why should someone else fight for it. Is the person out there getting c’v blown to bits protecting every single person in e’y less close to Hashem than the person learning all day in yeshiva?

  6. not such a “nice jew.” You can choose to disagree, but please do so respectfully. Maran is not setting a value of one versus another.

  7. How dare you call yourselves “Nicejew” an yet make comments going against our Gedolai Hador! such as R’ Chaim Kanievsky and mocking Torah and kollel yungerlait!!!!! GO AHEAD I DARE YOU DEFEND YOURSELVES!!!!
    I can’t even begin to understand why YWN allows comments of this sort!! (other then to boost ratings)

  8. The yeshiva students who learn and pray make Israel worthy of G-D’s blessings. Their efforts on the home front helps those on the war front. If they do their job properly, then G-D, the true Guardian of Israel will protect Israel from its enemies. Not everyone is fit to be a soldier, and not everyone is fit to learn all day and night. But everyone has his job to do in G-D’s army, every single one has an important job -neither is “wasting their time” and neither’s “blood is cheaper”.

  9. If everyone is so serious about everything gdolim Isroel say, and chas veshalom anyone disagrees, you right away attack them, so what are you doing on Internet? Didn’t you hear Gdolim Yisrael are all against Internet? I doubt that reading and commenting her on YWN is a must thing to have a parnasa, that some gdolim allow. Unless you stop using the internet don’t preach to others what should they listen from gdolim and what they should not.

  10. I will try, though I doubt you will like my explanation very much. Yes, they are dying in vain and wasting their time.

    As the Gemara tells us, Moshiach will not come as long as Jews have sovereignty in EY. Since belief in the coming of Moshiach is a fundamental principal of Judaism, we therefore must conclude, as believing Jews, that the medinah is a doomed enterprise. Noble as a person’s intent MAY be, fighting and dying for it is an excersize in futility.

    Even basic reason should tell you that zionism was a very bad idea: Start a new country that you can WALK across in an afternoon, already populated by another people, surrounded by 600 million of their cousins (who basically hate your guts anyway) and expect things to work out happily-ever-after??? Put on your Yiddishe kup and THINK.

    They are also wasting their time and lives because a Jews were not created to be Hebrew-speaking goyim; they were created to live and learn TORAH. All of our endevours must be for the sake of Torah & mitzvot. IF (and this is a BIG if) the state existed for the sake of Torah and the army fought for the sake of those toiling in Torah, it would be one thing, but the founders of the zionism were AGAINST the Torah (Herzl ym”sh wanted Jews to be catholics!) and you will have a hard time convincing me that the average israeli joins the army thinking “I must sacrifice my life to preserve limud Torah.”

    As ardently as zionists believe their army protects them, chareidim believe that it is their tefillah and Torah study that protects am Yisrael: “The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps;” “Some in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in HaShem our G-d.” Chareidim hold that it is not force of arms but rather HaShem’s covenant with our forefathers that preserves the Jewish people and (importantly) in order for us to call on it for His protection we must ATTACH ourselves to that covenant through Torah and mitzvot. IOW, being a “biological Jew” isn’t enough, just ask the Jews of the ancient northern kingdom… oh wait, you can’t… they’re lost to history.

    Please understand that none of this is being said in animosity or in the context of ANY Jew’s blood being “cheaper.” Quite the contrary, it is precisely because they consider ALL Jewish blood to be precious that the Gadolim of the time (and their followers today)ADAMANTLY opposed zionism: they understood in their wisdom that the creation of a “jewish” state would result in an unending river of Jewish blood. They warned us and we didn’t listen; instead we chose to listen to the atheists and the socialists and far to many Jews have died as a consequence.

    The solution is NOT to send even MORE Jews to their deaths, but rather to “ask of the paths of old, which is the good way, and travel on it and find rest for your soul.”

    I will happily answer any additional questions.

  11. #1 Nicejew: I don’t hear anyone asking why it’s not fair that those soldiers working in intelligence a Tel Aviv bunker or those in the medical corps working in some hospital are evading the front while other soldiers are dying. Maybe they should take turns?
    The answer is that an army like that would not work. Each one is assigned to the job that will best help the war effort.
    We believe that what we are doing is, in fact, helping the war effort. Just like nobody is asking the intelligence officer to do a tour at the front it would be unfair to ask those in the beis midrash to pick up a gun and learn to shoot.
    Those who are protesting have conveniently chosen a belief system in which this is not true. Our belief system which says it is true. We have a thousands of years old tradition that can back up our belief system. What do they have?

    I do apologize that this was a very intellectual answer to a very emotional question.

  12. The Israeli government has gotten itself in a quagmire which the late great Rav Meir Kahane ztzvk”l predicted over 40 years ago.
    The problem is this…
    There is simply no way the government is going to be able to force tens of thousands of chareidim to go into the army (or even other forms of national service). To put those tens of thousands of chareidim in prison is also not realistic. What other option is there?
    The government may say, “If chareidim are not going to fulfill obligations to the state, then the state will not give stipends, subsidies, etc. to the chareidim.”
    Some chareidim already DO not, OR claim they DO not, take anything from the state.
    In truth this seems fair. -But…
    There IS one big problem with this approach. Namely, what to do with the arabs???
    There are many thousands of arab CITIZENS of Israel who get full rights and privileges of citizenship, BUT do NOT serve in the IDF (or do national service). Yes, there IS a very small number of arabs who DO, but the vast majority do NOT.
    The Israeli government may now SAY the arabs will have to serve too, BUT everyone knows that will never happen for obvious reasons.
    So now the question arises, if the arabs are not serving, will the government also refuse to give THEM (i.e the arabs) THEIR funds, subsidies, etc.????
    Certainly they will NOT cut off funding to the arabs so as not to arouse the anger of the U.S., the UN, the E.U. and others.
    Can the government then treat arabs differently, i.e. better than, Chareidim?
    Best answer for now… the government should just leave things as they have been for the last 60 years.

  13. My last comment was directed to number 2, “NiceJew”

    to Number 7, I feel compelled to say that invective is uncalled for. You may be right but you should consider the possibility that no one has ever really explained things to “NiceJew” before.

    to number 5: They do not want and have never wanted to live in “Israel,” be citizens of “Israel” or have “freedom.” ALL of this was imposed on them against their will.

    Charedim vigorusly opposed zionism, petitioned before the UN against creating a “Jewish” state and, when it was clear that such a state WOULD be created, petitoned again to the UN asking for independent status. The charedi leadership has continued ever sice to oppose zionism and reject its sovereignty over them. For example, Maran HaRav Shach z”tl prayed everyday that the state should be peacefully dissolved (he understood its inevitable collapse and hoped that the end would come at the hand of G-d rather than, c”v, the hand of the nations).

    Further, charedim absolutely reject this modern goyishe concept called “freedom.” The very idea of a “free Jew” is an oxymoron: to be a Jew quite literally means to accept the YOKE of Torah. The ONLY “freedom” chareidim want is the freedom to live their lives according to our ancient path, which is PRECISELY the freedom the atheist zionist state seeks to take away from them by forcing them to serve in their atheist army.

  14. About Hesder: Even the late Rav Kook Ztz”l wrote a letter stating thet anyone who is capable of learning full time shouldn’t go to Hesder, because he won’t learn much there.

  15. MDshweks,

    Im afraid you are terribly mistaken. Where have you seen this idea? If you are referring to R. Tzvi Yehuda, that is a strange, as his own Mercaz HaRav has a Hesder program. If the elder R. Kook, then doubly strange, because neither Hesder (or the state) even existed by the time he was niftar. Say whatever you want here, but don’t put your own words in R. Kook’s mouth.

  16. I love the idea that the Jewish way is to have someone learning Torah to back up those who go out to fight. The problem is that the chareidi tzibur has decided that they will exclusively learn & often turn their backs on the soldiers. Let’s put it this way, all of these past 64 years the chareidi tzibur who sat and learned never made an effort to show that they see themselves as Soldiers of Hashem who are there learning to back up their bretheren who are fighting for all of our safety. Perhaps, had the chareidi yeshivas declared OUT LOUD that their learning is specifically dedicated to backing up our soldiers and for the protection of our country! Perhaps, if the chareidi leadership would have declared (even once!) a “yom iyun” for the sake of our dear fighting soldiers who protect us & our rights to learn & live & daven in Eretz Yisroel! Perhaps, if only the chareidi mosdos would have set up partnership learning programs with their fellow Jews who are not-yet-frum or who are religious but “not as religious as they could be.”

    But alas, the chareidi movement, by and large, turned their backs on the soldiers and the country.

  17. No one is degrading the value of army service. The point is that everyone has a job. There MUST be men and boys learning Torah full time. Without it the future of the Jewish nation is in jeopardy both from a spiritual and a physical perspective. There must also be an IDF.

    The problem is that the deficit in Torah learning that would be caused by depleting the Yeshivas is going to be impossible to make up.

    Hesder is great & it is the ideal program for the “average” citizen. It is NOT, however, a replacement for those that are learning full time.

    All the chiloni soldiers should join Hesder not the the yeshiva students.

    There are, of course, those who oppose army service because of anti-nationilist reasons. To them I say that their reason for avoiding army service is not for true Torah learning purposes. Nevertheless, the value and contribution of their Torah learning should not be underestimated.

    For those who want to learn full time. Kol hakavod. You are saving Jewish lives and saving the entire world as well. For those who want to serve in the IDF – join Hesder!

  18. I think a state which is forced upon the Charedim. Can’t go and demand the Charedim recruit. And as far as paying for Yeshivas and Koilelim, well the last time I checked the Charedim were paying taxes, and in some ways pay more due to them having large families, which purchase alot more food and clothing, and the usage of buses. And food and clothing and even using buses is very heavily taxed in Israel. And so since no Charedi is overly interested in culture centeres receiving their tax money, which they receive anyway, I think its fair that the tax money that charedim contribute should go for their needs too. discriminating against Charedim is horrible! And its worth noting that Charedim do often get the worse treatment in Israel, way worse then the arabs, ever wonder why?

  19. Why is it that only the 18-21 year olds are the ones who are learning in protection of Israel. Why can’t the protectors of Israel (via learning) be the 25-40 year olds or the 50-70 year olds? Why can’t these specific 18-21 year olds be covered by some other age group during the time of their National Service to be the Torah Protectors?

  20. Chilonim should also refuse to go to the army!

    Had The laws of the torah been followed by the army many (chilonim) lives would have been saved. According to the Torah a Jewish army who is attacked would NEVER put their own soldiers in harms way to protects land, houses or even the enemies children.

    Case in point: bomb the hell out of them but don’t send in foot soldiers to be trapped by bombs.

    VERDICT: NO ONE SHOULD SERVE in an anti torah army!!!!

  21. jackr – If all the 18-21 year olds go to the army and stop learning, chances they won’t be of the learning calliber to be in the catigories of 25-40 year olds or the 50-70 year olds

  22. @ 23 jackr
    It’s because that specific age range is most conducive to higher level learning. Past that age and the men are mostly already married and are bogged down by other responsibilities. Before that age the talmidim are still children and many aren’t mature enough to grasp higher level concepts or to sit and learn all day. Those years in a person’s life are also critical in Torah learning because it’s the time when many have their “intellectual growth-spurt”. Also, many people really get to know themselves and solidify their own personalities in their early twenties. Everything past that age is just refinement and adjustment, but for many people, up until that point ,their midos are still subject to drasticly change for the better or for the worse.

  23. To: Nice Jew
    Why are you twisting his words. He never said that. It is common sense that the Israeli soldiers who are at the battle front defending the country, for sure they will merit tremendous reward in this world and the next world. No one knows the exact amount of reward each individual will recieve for studying in a Yeshiva or for defending the Jewish people. Everyone will get reward. They are not dying in vain. Of course the Almighty wants that some people should participate and join the army and those soldiers will earn a tremendous amount of reward. Rav Kanievsky did not say even one word negative about the soldiers. If you will ask him yourself this question, you will see that you made a mistake and that he agrees to what I wrote in this comment. How would you like it, if someone put words into your mouth? If someone will twist your words? PLEASE EXPLAIN

  24. To #23 Jackr: Because if they will not learn from 18-21 then they will not be learning from 22-40 either – for the most part.

  25. Just to add to the many excellent comments given, we must remember that in order to have proper Hashkafas we need to look into the Torah.

    1) הקול קול יעקב וידים ידי עשו – Klal Yisrael is unique in that our survival is based on our voices (learning Torah and praying), not on the might of our hands. When we rely on our might we lose the siyata dishmiya that is our only hope of survival.

    2) ובהם נהגה יומם ולילה – we say this every day. Do we think about what we are saying? This is our main objective in life. If we uproot this we uproot Yiddishkeit.

    There is much more that can be quoted and expounded upon, but this is not the forum for it. I am just giving a little food for thought.

    As far as Hesder:
    1) As someone already stated, they will also be affected by the change in law.
    2) Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht, z”l was the one who started the Hesder Derech. He was a very big Talmid Chochum who’s hashkafas were very different than one might think. He was a close Talmid of both the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav and consulted both of them before starting Hesder. Even according to KBY’s website it is apparent that he created Hesder not as an ideal, but rather as a solution for those that felt the need to both serve and yet learn Torah. Non-the-less, his priority was on the study of Torah. Anyone who learned there knows quite well that he would fight to keep out of the army any student that he felt was a prodigy. I know this as a fact. Also, not well known outside of KBY is if a student would ask whether he should be wearing a hat during davening he would answer in the affirmative. I happen to personally know someone who learned in KBY who wore a black hat for davening at the Yeshiva after he consulted the Rosh Yeshivah about what is stated in the Mishna Brura and the Rosh Yeshiva’s reply was that he most certainly should wear a hat.

    The belief that the Hesder Derech is the ideal situation for everybody is utterly false and was never the original intention. It was only created as a solution for those that were torn between whether to serve or learn.

    Here is a quote from their website:

    “His first class was made up of twelve graduates of the prototype of B’nei Akiva High Schools. These dedicated students, imbued with a love for Torah, the people, and the Land of Israel, soon faced a dilemma. As they approached draft age, they felt a dual obligation: to continue learning and to do their part in the active defense of the country. This problem would be solved by the implementation of the “Hesder” program.”

    Bottom line: If you feel this dilemma then Hesder is for you. If you feel the need to dedicate your life to Torah study, then Hesder is definitely not the proper derech to follow. You should be learning full time w/o any army service.

  26. Jackr – Just to add. The Torah teaches that the societal responsibility (including army service) starts at 20. If you feel that one needs to server at a younger age then you are contradicting Hashem. Not Good!

  27. #24 y2r, Boruch Hashem we had you here (on the assur internet) to pasken halacha for us. And thanks for sharing your curse words with us – you’re dismissed.

  28. As the Gemara tells us, Moshiach will not come as long as Jews have sovereignty in EY.

    The gemara says no such thing, liar. If this were true, then how could Chizkiyahu have been Moshiach? How could Dovid Hamelech have been Moshiach? EY was under Jewish sovereignty in their time, and yet they were supposed to be Moshiach, and only the generation’s sins prevented it. So don’t make up gemaras. Moshiach can come at any time, no matter who is sovereign in EY.

  29. Even basic reason should tell you that zionism was a very bad idea: Start a new country that you can WALK across in an afternoon, already populated by another people,

    When the zionists started up, EY was almost entirely unpopulated. The Arabs moved in after the zionists began building it up.

    As ardently as zionists believe their army protects them, chareidim believe that it is their tefillah and Torah study that protects am Yisrael: “The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps;” “Some in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in HaShem our G-d.”

    It’s both. The gemara says (for real this time) that if not for Dovid sitting and learning Yoav could not have won his battles, and if not for Yoav fighting Dovid could not have learned. The learners and the soldiers are partners, not enemies. Emptying the yeshivos into the army would be a disaster, but so would emptying the army into the yeshivos.