An Open Letter from R’ Shteinman Shlita Regarding IDF Draft


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leHaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita has released a letter published in chareidi newspapers today, Tuesday, 19 Sivan 5773.

The Gadol Hador refers to the ongoing process by which the government plans to draft bnei yeshivos into the IDF, threatening the status quo that existed in Eretz Yisrael for the past decades, permitting avreichim to continue with their limud Torah. Rav Shteinman calls on bnei Torah to prepare to be moser nefesh and stand firm in opposition to these efforts. The Rosh Yeshiva calls on the tzibur to be m’chazek our tefilos and to be mispallel to HKBH to remove these gezeiros.

He concludes with a call to the powers that be, to refrain from taking this step, delivering a blow to lomdei Torah at this time when the enemies of Israel plot our demise R”L. Rav Shteinman points out that only the Torah will save us from them and therefore, appeals not to target them and reduce their limud which is ongoing day and night.

The letter was undersigned by Maran Hagon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita.


(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. 1. The tone of the language is much harsher than the English summary in YWN.

    2. The letter is from gedolim who are very establishment, meaning they have in the past accepted money from the medinah and on occasion allowed the Israeli flag to be flown form their yeshiva. The supporters of conscription realized that groups such as Eidah hareidis and Netuerei Karta would (continue) to opposed them, but didn’t expect the more establishment yeshiovos and religious parties to do more than complain loudly and then comply.

  2. The Rosh Yeshiva writes clearly, that we don’t have a Novie and therefore we Don’t Know why this ‘storm’ is happening. The truth is that I don’t either know. We just don’t know.
    Therefore it would make sense that until we do get a Novie to tell us whats happening, we should just follow the directives of the Government and share the burden and not allow other people’s children to fight for us.

  3. I think that it’s a lost cause. The new cause should be to make sure that army will now accommodate yeshivalite so as not to compromise their frumness.

  4. to Ich bin ein Berliner whothinks its a lost cause.

    1. There seems to be a growing movement towards considering an abolition of conscription which, among other things, would allow hareidi baal ha-battim to hold “on the books” jobs without serving in the army, would improve the professionalization of the army, and would result in substantial economic benefit to soldiers (who currently receive minimal pay and benefits). An alternative would be to recognize religious and moral objections as the basis for not serving in the army, and allow yeshiva students to basically exempt themsleves at the price of receiving only the welfare benefits that other non-zionists (e.g. Arabs) receive.

    2. Accomodation of hareidim, unlike the highly motivated frum zionists who often enlist, would be a serious imposition on the IDF. It would mean having independent supervision of army kitchens (since who trusts a hechksher if the “boss” isn’t frum, and the supervisor works for that boss). It would require banning what in the US is called “fraternization” (a euphemism for what we can’t discuss on YWN)-and remember Israel never restricted soldiers on the basis of orientation in such matters)- and if you note the high number of abortions in the army, this is obviously an issue. Allowing adequate time for learning and davening, observance of fast days, hol ha-Moed, etc., would be an issue. In the USA, a racist or religiously bigotted officer is routinely dismissed – but if that happened Israel a large percentage of the officer corps would have to go.

  5. “…the status quo that existed in Eretz Yisrael for the past decades, permitting avreichim to continue with their limud Torah.” When the staus quo was implemented there were under 300 avreichem…not the same situation at all.

  6. The issue will not go away and the rabbonim seem to be in denial that the numbers will no longer support a larger and larger percentage of the population evading the draft. If they want to remain part of the dialogue, then need to become part of the solution by offering some compromise such as alternative forms of public service for yeshiva bochurim who prefer not to join the army. Its not the end of the world for some percentage of chareidi boys and girls to commit a year or two for national service along with all others of their age bracket. Otherwise, in a few years, these rabbonim who simply say NO to every proposal will have been relegated to irrelevance.

  7. To Yira

    You’re right, The Rav does write that, “We don’t know”.
    So how could anybody offer a guidance on something that he admitedly doesn’t know?
    I never understood certain Tshuvas on Hashkofo where they write “we don’t know anything, but let me tell you what you should do”

  8. Gadolhadorah: The issue will indeed not go away. If more and more Israelis pursue a secular lifestyle, and give up devoting their lives to Torah and Mitsvos, then we can be certain that the zionist experiment will end with the destruction of its state. Jewish community that forsake Torah for the parnassah and glory of hilonious eventually collapse. Torah and Mitsvos are the key to our survival – similar to the role that economic and military strength have in goyshe survival — Can we survive a certain percentage of Bnei Torah being diverted into and turned into modern Baal ha-battim or hilonim (which is what the secular press believes will happen). We survived the “cantonist” draft in Russia, but barely – in fact it led to massive shmad (and indirectly, to the Romanov family ending up in front of a firing squad – not that I’m advocating that but Lapid and Bennett and Netanyahu should understand how Ha-Shem works).– The Rav is modestly calling for more learning and faith in Ha-Shem; others have already called for an appropriate response to a situation that creates a “Shaas ha-Shmad” and “yehereg v’al yaavor” which is to say an other than non-violent resistance.– The only solution at this point is to end conscription and Israeli will rely on having a professional and well motivated army. Any other “solution” ends up leading to a one-state solution not under Jewish control, and probably much bloodshed along the way.

  9. I believe that it is not fair to expect others to protect you and that it is well understood and believed that Hashem helps those who help themselves. Everyone in Eretz Yisroel should know how to protect themselves and their families. Being trained by the Army means that they are Soldiers in the Army of Hashem. They not only know how to learn but they know how to fight and they know how to protect their own. This is very important. The Arabs look upon the Chareidi community in particular as easy targets. That should not be the case.

    If you live in Israel and you enjoy the land of Israel you should be required to do what every other 18 year old does. Train to be a soldier, learn whenever you can and go back to it when you get out of the army. I am sure that they will accomodate the Chareidi population and not mix them with women soldiers. Things can be worked out and accommodations can be made. Walking on the streets without training is more dangerous than being a trained soldier.

  10. #2 & #8– not having a Navi does not mean not having leaders. Not knowing the reason of a certain gezairah doesn’t mean that there’s no way of dealing with it. This is called emunas chachamim, Yiftach b’doro K’Shmuel b’doro. those to whom we should pay attention are giving us direction.

  11. Akuperma says: “…If more and more Israelis pursue a secular lifestyle, and give up devoting their lives to Torah and Mitsvos, then we can be certain that the zionist experiment will end with the destruction of its state” More polymic hysteria…it’s getting boring.

  12. Yira, to follow the directives of the anti Torah government because we don’t have a navi? Do you know what you’re saying? We indeed don’t have a navi but we do have gedolim who have siyata Dishmaya like Neviim and chas veshalom to follow the directives of reform Jews who are out to destroy Torah and secularize us.
    The only solution to sharing the burden would be for the chilonim to share the burden of learning Torah, the true protection of Am Yisrael.

    #7 I know you don’t want to hear it but the issue will go away because the gedolim are very powerful.
    Its not the end of the world for those like you who lack yirat shamayim and follow the wind, but yeshiva boys and girls with yirat shamayim can never compromise. Baruch Hashem for our gedolim.

    “Otherwise, in a few years, these rabbonim who simply say NO to every proposal will have been relegated to irrelevance.” They’re already irrelevant to you and your kind and the stronger they are, the more they’re respected.

  13. A navi can maybe tell us why but as far as practically what to do now- Chazal have already taught us that ‘chochom odiff meinavi’

  14. #13. The meraglim were the gedolai hador. We are not like the Catholics. We do not canonize flesh and blood.
    Each one of us were created with a piece of the shechina within us. Listen to that shechina.

  15. #13 I meant, the issue will not go away.
    Actually, there was no reason for me to post if we have on site the super poster Akuperma who brings out the points so eloquently.

    Akuperma you’re a light in the darkness – among posters here on a charedi website.

  16. To # 13

    Why does the Siyato Dishmayo of the Gedolim suddenly make a short stop when we need to know, Why is all this happening?
    It is very convenient to guide people in a way that you never be disproven.

  17. Perhaps the issue will not go away. However practically speaking the army cannot jail the thousands of yeshiva boys. There are not enough jails, the cost would bankrupt them, the kids would become heroes, the PR fallout would be horrendous and so on.
    They cannot fine them either – these kids have no bank accounts.
    So in reality the govt. talks tough, but are a paper tiger. I think these gedolim are living with reality, which is more than I can say for some commentators here…

  18. Baruch Hashem for the directions for Bnei Torah and indeed all of Klal Yisroel to follow by Maran HaGaon HaRav Ahron Lein Shteinman shlit”a.

  19. It amazes and disturbs me that some of the commentators have a total lack of understanding and respect for true authentic Daas Torah! While you pleasure seeker baal habatim give boech svaros from the comfort of your arm chair, Rabbi Shteinmen SHLITA is totaly engrossed in the Kedusha of Torah mitoch miseras nefesh mamesh! All you’ve done, is show everyone how big of Am Haratzim you are! Shame on you!

  20. #16- Yes, you have the super poster who says that “Torah and Mitzvos are the key to our survival”. He forgot to mention sitting on the internet and commenting about how there will be a civil war, the end of the State blah, blah, blah. Apparently, doing that is a key to survival as well. A true light in the darkness. Right.