Is Degel HaTorah On The Way To A Split With Agudas Yisrael?

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Illustrative. Degel HaTorah MKs meet with HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein.

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There are increasing rumors in recent days that Degel HaTorah may split off from Agudas Yisrael and run for the next Knesset independently.

UTJ chairman Moshe Gafni even visited HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein in the hospital to discuss the issue with the Gadol HaDor. HaRav Edelstein is Baruch Hashem recovered and feeling well and was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon.

There are several reasons why Gafni is seriously considering splitting from Agudas Yisrael, despite very real fears that a split will drastically decrease Chareidi representation in the Knesset as polls show that Agudas Yisrael will not pass the electoral threshold if it runs independently.

The main reason is a recent agreement that the Belzer chassidus formed with the State to increase the hours spent on math and English in its chedarim in exchange for increased government funding. HaRav Edelstein is fervently opposed to any State involvement in Chareidi chinuch and is extremely concerned over possible future implications of the agreement to all stripes of Chareidi society.

An additional issue is a dispute over UTJ’s leadership and the representation on the party list. An agreement by the two parties rotates the leadership of UTJ, which means that an Agudas Yisrael representative will lead the party in the next Knesset. However, since UTJ sat in the opposition in the past Knesset, which also lasted for only a brief period of time, Gafni is insisting that the leadership remain with Degel HaTorah for the next Knesset.

Additionally, the makeup of the Chareidi sector has changed over the years, with studies showing that Degel HaTorah voters outnumber Agudas Yisrael voters, When UTJ was first formed, the ratio was set as 60-40 in favor of Agudas Yisrael. In 2019, the ratio was adjusted to 50-50 and now Gafni wants the ratio adjusted to 60-40 in favor of Degel HaTorah in reflection of the new demographics.

A large gathering of all members of Degel HaTorah in the Knesset and municipal authorities is being held on Tuesday on the occasion of the tenth yahrzeit of HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, z’tl. One of the panels at the conference will focus on the future of Degel HaTorah, during which a possible split is expected to be discussed – not only in the Knesset but in a number of municipalities as well.

However, contrary to the above reports, Degel HaTorah MK Yaakov Asher on Monday morning denied rumors that  Degel HaTorah is considering a split from Agudas Yisrael. In an interview with Kol B’Ramah, Asher said: “No one has a goal of running separately, there was never such an intention. There are essential issues that have been presented to the Gedolei HaDor and a discussion is taking place, but there are no threats here.”

“There are media outlets that publish leaks and stories and that’s okay. Otherwise, what would they do in the 120 days until the elections?” Asher joked. “I’m saying that no one has a reason to run separately. There are issues to clarify and when they’re clarified, everything will be b’seder.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

13 COMMENTS

  1. A question that needs pondering.
    All the continuous projections have the chareidi world increasing and taking over the country; yet we find that the number of seats in the knesset is not increasing. Now we read that Agudas Yisroel is shrinking in proportion to Degel.

  2. ideally there should only be ONE frum political party in Israel and not three like we have now; and it should be run by a normal, non-corrupt, god-fearing, chareidi Ashkenazi who doesn’t discriminate against the Sephardim and doesn’t compromise on anything torah-related.

    right now among UTJ, both parties aren’t that good, but Degel is certainly better than Agudas Yisrael.

    Shas in some ways are better than both, and in other ways are worse than both… (but i’m not getting into it now) and Religious Zionism is not chareidi enough…

  3. from what I can see right now, I’ll be voting for נעם

    if Degel pulls out of UTJ, I might vote Degel instead, i dont know yet…

    it’s either Noam or Degel HaTorah for me 🙂

  4. selfishness is the root of most evil…splitting….shows us that even this is broken, shameful…..Men are boys and time to return to Manhood…..we women are truly tired of holding you up

  5. @cobwebcom: The Rosh Yeshivah shlita also knows what parnasah entails and it’s not for the secular anti-religious government to tell us how to prepare for that.
    To make an agreement on education based on funding is a disgrace!

  6. Cut out your STUPID bickering which apart from holding back building of 3rd בית המקדש during these most tragic 3 weeks, would be full fledged POLITICAL SUICIDE of the highest order.
    Better have mandatory Arithmetic & 🇬🇧 than mandatory reform גיור

  7. Basically, Gafni doesn’t want Agudah to be in charge this Knesset, and then they go and blame Belz for english… What a joke.
    I’m totally lost… In the USA us Litvishe Yeshivos always embraced english (and the longer I live in Lakewood the more I understand it), with the FULL support of Gedolim, and suddenly english is bad…

  8. Ah all the Geonim on the comment section of a Yeshiva World article! I’m not sure why but how come I feel more comfortable to leave this issue for Reb Eidelstien, who is a Malach and knows the whole Torah backwards and forwards, than trusting the brilliant “commenters” on this article?? A little humility please and sit back and listen to what people greater than you have to say instead of spewing your meaningless opinion

  9. Ish Hashalom –
    It’s not that English is that bad per se, (although the need to study English in CHu’l is very different that the usefulness here) it’s the government involvement that the gedolim have traditionally been against.
    I cannot remember who it was (probably Rav Shach) that said – even if the Israeli government decide that we should learn Bovo Metzio instead of Bovo Basra, or Nedarim before Kidushin, we cannot, and will not, let them have any say whatsoever, even at the risk of losing funding.