Maran R’ Shteinman Tells Yeshiva Student To ‘Go To India’ Instead Of IDF


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shteinA Yeshiva student visited with HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita seeking the Gadol Hador’s advice as he feels he can no longer remain in beis medrash, lacking fulfillment from his learning as he explained his situation. According to a Kikar Shabbat report, the young man asked what his next step in life should be, explaining to the rav he is considering enlistment into the IDF as an option.

The rav took the young man by surprise to put it mildly, instructing him “travel to India” in response to his thoughts of joining the IDF.

When the young man left the bnei bayis of the rav asked him why he said davka to travel to India. “What do I know” said the rav, adding “Perhaps they sent him and he has a recording device in his pocket. Afterwards he will go to the radio and media and publicize what I said, that I told him that he can go into the IDF.”

In the interim, warning notices of imminent arrest have arrived at the homes of hundreds of bnei Torah in line with the Defense Ministry decision to begin the draft of eligible chareidim.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. There will be strong pressure on Likud and Bayit Yehudi to minimize the impact of “punitive” sanctions, since those parties in particular don’t want to burn bridges to the Hareidim. The “worst case” scenario for Likud is that the Labor party will come out against conscription, realizing that Labor and the Hareidim share an economic agenda, and use the Hareidim as “cover” to be able to recruit the Arab parties into a coalition. At that point the “Left” will be in striking distance of a majority, something that hasn’t been the case in the 1970s.

  2. @ChaimThomas42

    While this news is very cryptic, I understood it to mean that they asked him, why did the Rav tell him such an extreme response rather than telling him plainly, No, don’t enlist. So Rav Shteinman answered that he didn’t know if the guy was really a reporter trying to skew his answer into some type of quote that would be taken to mean that you should enlist. So, instead of saying it mildly, he gave him a quote that couldn’t be misinterpreted.

  3. Most definitely not. How did you possibly pull that one out of this story? If you want to hear something I guess you could hear anything you want.

  4. Some minor changes would really improve the readability of the following sentence from the article.

    Instead of:
    “When the young man left the bnei bayis of the rav asked him why he said davka to travel to India.”

    Perhaps it would have been better to write:
    “After the young man had left, the bnei bayis of the rav asked him why he said davka to travel to India.”

    The comma is arguably the most important difference between the two versions.

    There is no need to post this comment.

  5. The translation from “yeshivish” to “standard” appears to be he is saying that under current conditions, service in the IDF is prohibited regardless of whether one is learning. This has been the position of Eidis hareidis, Satmar, etc., all along.

  6. Isn’t the shita of passed G’dolim….to enlist after completing years of Yeshiva study? Heard that from Gafne, Porush and SHAS MKs.

  7. This story is mind boggling in incorrect for many reasons…..both the IDF and army have stated over and over that there will be no arrest or criminal record of any refusers. Punishment will be monetary…. The government has ordered the IDF to increase the number of Nachal Haredi units.

  8. It is meaningless to quote what gedolim said on army service in the past. The new government, which has not yet taken office, has announced their will be serious penalties on any males 18-21 years old who is caught learning Torah rather than being a soldier, including serious fines and loss of civil rights. That is a new policy. Once you have a din of “Sha’at ha-Shmad” (a period of persecution) the law changes, and it appears that some very important rabbanim are being forced to change their psak to meet the new conditions.

    It could be that “real politics” will force Likud and Bayit Yehudi to back down and any sanction will be limited to loss of government funding (and many have always been saying yeshivos shouldn’t accept funding from non-frum Jews and goyim). However penalties that will bankrupt the students and yeshiovos are just as serious as prison. Similar taxes have existed in the past (e.g. the Fiscus Judaicus), and they are unacceptable.

    To draw another historical analogy, our situation is similar to Europe in late June 1914. The Archduke was shot, the armies mobilized, the ultimatiums issued – but as yet the conflict hadn’t started. So there is still hope it can be averted. But the situation is of similar gravity.

    The yeshivish world was very much part of the same world as Satmar and Edah Hareidis – 100 years ago. Eventually the yeshivish world, and most of the hasidim worked out a deal with the zionists by which they would support the state in return for the medinah agreeing not to conscript the yeshiva students.The agreement has been renounced by the zionists. By analogy. As of Dec. 6, 1941, the United States had a treaty of friendship with Japan in effect – then Japan renounced the treaty and bombed the United States – so by Dec. 8, 1941, everything was changed.