MAILBAG: Chareidi Protests In Israel Will Cause Harm To The Fight Against The Draft


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ywnlnDear Editor,

I was dismayed when I read reports and saw pictures of the protests in Israel last week. Let me be clear on one thing: I definitely do not support throwing yeshiva bochurim in jail for avoiding the army! Yet I believe the protests yesterday will end up doing more harm than good in this regard.

As frum Jews, I’m sure we all believe that people learning Torah is just as important to the safety of our homeland as the army is. Yet we must bear in mind that a huge part of the Israeli population is not made up of frum Jews, and they don’t see things the same way. We must try to bridge the gaps and come to some mutual respect. I know this is very difficult, as there are opinions already ingrained on both sides. Having protests and demonstrations is fine – when done properly.

Let’s look at the Atzeres Tefillah which took place recently. Hundreds of thousands of frum Jews attended. There was no violence whatsoever. It was a huge Kiddush Hashem. Now let’s contrast it with last week’s protest. There were people screaming abusive comments at police. Dumpsters were set on fire. Is this how we want people to look at frum Jews? Imagine how a chiloni sees this. Do you think they say, “Wow, look how the chareidim support this person. It must be very important to them!” I highly doubt it. Instead, the reaction is likely, “Ok, here we go again. Lighting fires, throwing things at police… these chareidim are terrible!” The entire message of the demonstration is lost because the focus is on the violence.

We know that deracheha darchei noam – the ways of the Torah are pleasant. Would you say that yesterday’s protest was showing that? When chilonim see the people who supposedly represent Torah acting like that, do you think it brings them closer to the Torah? Or does it just further the divide between us?

Instead of violence, let’s try to bridge the gap. I’ve heard from numerous Rabbonim that while they oppose the government, they have nothing against the soldiers, and are actually very thankful for what the soldiers do. Why not have a campaign to show that? R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l was known to go daven on Mt. Herzel because he held the kevarim of the soldiers were kivrei tzaddikim! Try having an adopt-a-soldier program, where yeshiva bochurim would each adopt a soldier that the merit of their learning would protect. While the soldiers might not think it actually does anything, I believe they’d still be appreciative of the gesture. How many chareidi yeshivos/shuls say a mi shebeirach for the soldiers on Shabbos? Why not start saying it? It says nothing about the government in it. It’s a tefillah for Hashem to protect the soldiers.

If the chareidim show their support for the soldiers of the IDF, it would go a long way to bridging the gap between the two sides. Definitely a lot more than lighting dumpsters on fire.

Daniel F.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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  1. The moderate protests serve a function, as do the loud ones. Indeed, the loud ones help the moderates by sending a message to the hilonim that if they don’t deal with the moderates (i.e. Degel haTorah, Shas and Agudah), they will have to deal with “extremists” (e.g. Satmar, Eidah hareidis, Neturei Karta). The moderates also help the extremists by showing there are a lot more people opposed to conscription.

    The hilonim thought that most hareidim were simply “modern orthodox” or “dati leumi” who were being a bit stricter about yiddishkeit. They assumed that on political matters, hareidim were no different than religious zionists (accepted that it is a mitsvah to have political control over Eretz Yisrael and to subjugate the Arabs) and that the only objection to army service was that they were too busy learning.

    Both the large peaceful protests, and the smaller “loud” ones are together showing the secular fanatics and the religious zionists that a great many hareidim disagree with their basic theological beliefs that make the “medinah” into a virtual object of avodah, and that many hareidim feel very strongly about that. And by showing the hilonim, and the world, that Torah Jews are conscientiously opposed to the zionist policy of military conquests it is a tremendous kiddush ha-Shem.

    The way of peace was for the zionists to allow hareidi autonomy and give out blankets exemptions from military service to anyone for whom “Torah was their profession”. This avoided the need to confront the zionists directly. But that is no longer an option.

  2. As long as non-learning Charedim are ignoring the IDF enlistment, they are endangering and putting the entire Torah Umanaso kehilla in pointblank target.

  3. Akuperman, as usual, excellent posts.

    This writer doesn’t really know what he’s talking about and is obviously not a haredi living under the Zionists. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Protesting and having the world watch how religious Jews are being persecuted under the Zionists, is the only way to accomplish things. Here is just 1 example (there are many more to prove how protesting is the way to do it). It is well known that the entire haredi Geula neighborhood in Yerushalayim free from secular is mainly thanks to protests.

    By the way, last week’s protests went quietly and once again it was a huge kiddush Hashem. At the end, some bums did some mischief, but sadly that’s the only thing that people like this writer sees.

  4. There is a debate amongst the gedolim in Israel what the right way to fight this battle, and with all due respect to the writer, it would seem that Rabbi Orbach doesn’t agree with the view of this writer. I’m not sure YWN are supposed to take a side in this debate.

    Moderators Note: YWN has not taken an opinion in anything. Perhaps you failed to read the disclaimer posted at the bottom of any MAILBAG or Op-Ed published on YWN.

  5. The writer must know that opinions by klal yisroel have value when said by Gedolim, each Gudol should have his followers listen and follow his directions, everything else is of no value,

  6. Wow, it’s interesting to see the differences between the comments here and the comments on the other Jewish website this was posted on.

    Over there, most of the comments were about the portion of the letter directed towards respecting soldiers. Here, it’s just about the protests.

    I’m sure that if you asked any gadol in Israel if it’s ok to light dumpsters on fire, they’d say no. Having an entire neighborhood be free from secular Jews due to violent protests is not a good thing. It’s a huge chillul Hashem!

    Having the world see that chareidim light dumpsters on fire doesn’t make them sympathetic. It makes them look down on chareidim, and is nothing but a huge chillul Hashem. I’ve had colleagues who aren’t Jewish ask me about the violent protests. They completely lose sight of what the protest is about, and only focus on the violence.

    The fact remains that there is a huge divide between the chareidim and the chilonim in Israel. This letter was focused on what causes the gap, and a way to start closing it. It’s a shame the posters here are missing that. It just highlights what causes the gap in the first place.

    One last point: with all the posters here calling Israelis “Zionists”, I feel like I’m reading quotes from Ahmadinejad, not from frum Jews. What a shame.

  7. #6 You are implying that everyone in the IDF is not religious!!!

    Using your stupid logic; Can non-learning haradim do national service within the haradi community?

  8. #6 Have you ever investigated this assumption? visited an army base? met Religious soldiers or commanders?

    or just a believer of the biased written word!!

  9. Fact. No litvishe Gadol today says that we oppose drafting yeshiva bocurim due to an ideological dispute with the medina.
    Fact. Our opposition to the new law is based on our concern that bochurim who want to learn will be unable to.
    Fact. In principle we accept that just being chareidi does not justify taking benefits from the larger society that we live in while refusing to do our share of the dangerous burden necessary for our mutual protection.
    If the general public would be clear about this we could oppose drafting yeshiva bochurim without arousing hatred.

  10. Daniel F.
    who are you? where are you from? what hamlatzos do you have for the things you state? All this is assumption. You have no idea what your saying. A lot in israel and most of the stuff accomplished in israel by chiloni, mizrachi and chareidi is by protest. That is the way of the land.

  11. The Hakaras Hatov to the soldiers would be a greater kiddush hashem than any protests.
    It is just too scary for many to admit we actually owe the IDF some gratitude. We have to stop looking at the world in black and white, just because someone doesn’t keep shabbos eat kosher or not care what our robbonim say doesn’t mean our obligation to have gratitude for the good they do us goes away.
    We have gone down a path of teaching our children to hate non-religious people in order to protect them from going off the derech. My nephews from lakewood asked me the other day if its ok to say a “goyish baby is cute” We have to be confident enough in our yiddshkeit to know that we can appreciate what non-religous people do for us, and teach our kids to have that appreciaition as well, without being worried we are corrupting them. aderaba, we will be showing them that yiddshkeit is not based on hate of others but a love and respect for all our brothers.

  12. #11 and anybody else.. does Kol Isha ring a bell? how about men being forced to be examined by women ( saw this on ynet).. or maybe a group of Dati soldiers being prevented from DAVENING… shal I go on?

  13. Have an opinion? want to express it? stand behind it!
    don’t write “Daniel F.” If you are ashamed of your opinion don’t express it and don’t even believe it!
    YWN should only bring opinions with people behind not robots.

    Moderators Note: You mean like “MDU”? You asking us to never again approve your comments?

  14. #15, There is no issur for female doctors to examine men. Kol ishah? If he did not mean to listen, he could have stayed inside. Not accommodating every chumrah is not SHMAD.

  15. #18
    Hashem didn’t tell moshe to tell bnei yisroel to learn when the egyptians were upon them.
    Hashem didnt tell yehoshua to learn in order to conquer eretz yisroel.
    And even though torah learning does protect us to a degree, we still need soldiers manning the front. That is the way hashem made the world. AND we still need to show gratitude to them … cant argue with that