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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Time to tell the Truth about the Draft of Haredim

Readers may be very surprised to learn these facts because the Yesh Atid-sponsored draft law is very different from what you have been reading in the haredi press and hearing from Haredi politicians and activists.

Readers may be very surprised to learn these facts because the Yesh Atid-sponsored draft law is very different from what you have been reading in the haredi press and hearing from Haredi politicians and activists.
Photo Credit: yaakov Naumi/Flash90

Serving as a member of Knesset has taught me so much. One of the most important lessons relates to truth and lies. I am amazed and saddened by the untruths spoken by many leaders in the religious camp. The degree of lying makes it seem as if verses from the Torah and teachings from our sages about the importance of telling the truth and staying away from lies don’t exist.

For the sake of clarity, I am now going to reveal the truth about the Israel draft law that is on the verge of passing. What I am writing is fact. Readers may be very surprised to learn these facts because the Yesh Atid-sponsored draft law is very different from what you have been reading in the haredi press and hearing from haredi politicians and activists.

The law says nothing about haredim going to jail. It says the army has specific goals for how many haredim will serve. As long as those goals are met, there is no mandatory draft of anyone who is in yeshiva. The law actually begins by doing the opposite of drafting yeshiva boys; it says that anyone who is over 22 when the law is passed will be completely exempt from any service. This frees them to enter the work force or continue learning.

The law then sets out its goals. Among those 24 and under, the goal is for 3,200 haredim to begin service between now and July 2014. Two thousand would serve in the army and 1,200 in national service. Army service can be done in Nachal Chareidi, an exclusively haredi unit with minyanim and time for learning, or in Shachar Kachol, which teaches its participants trades like computer and electric engineering which they can then use for a livelihood after their service.

The national service includes a variety of options – some are security-oriented (police, etc.) and some involve civil service in medical and other areas of need. Service is for two years.

If we analyze the tens of thousands who are currently in yeshiva learning, there are most certainly 3,200 who are not learning day and night, and all the roshei yeshiva have said that anyone not learning day and night should serve in the army.

Between July 2014 and July 2015 another 3,800 would begin service – 2,300 in the army and 1,500 in national service. The final goal is to have 5,200 begin service by 2017 – 3,000 in the army and 2,200 in national service.

Considering the fact that every year around 7,500 haredim reach the age of 18 and that many roshei yeshiva have said that 50 to 60 percent of the boys in yeshiva should not be there long term, these goals are very reasonable and preserve the value of Torah study for those who are truly cut out to do so day and night.

According to this plan, 35,500 would continue learning day and night while 17,000 would the country for two years in a framework geared to haredi young men – 10,000 in the army and approximately 7,000 in national service.

The law asks for those goals to be met. Straightforward and simple. If the goals are not met, then in 2017 all boys with the exception of 1,800 per year will be drafted. Those who refuse to serve will incur the same consequence as anyone else in the country who breaks the law. That may include jail time. Amazingly, even if we reach such an unfortunate situation, 12,600 men between the ages of 18 and 24 will be learning full time as their service to the country in addition to those who are above those ages who decide to focus on Torah learning.

These are the facts. Now for my opinion: If the haredi community would simply say, “Yes, we will send all boys who are not learning day and night to serve,” there would be no battle or tension.

But the haredi political leaders are not doing this. Twenty-five percent of boys leaving yeshiva translates into less money for those yeshivas. The law would also allow more bnei Torah to enter the work force and earn a living, which means fewer young men would require government handouts – the justification for the very existence of these political parties. They don’t want to lose this. Therefore they prefer to mislead the public and do battle. They prefer to fight the most generous offer they will ever see from the secular side and to tell their young men to not serve, thereby forcing the country into a corner and placing over their heads the threat of potential arrest in 2017.

The hallmark of the Jewish people has always been emes. It’s a tragedy that for selfish interests political leaders and activists are not telling the truth – and doing so as if it is in the name of Torah.

I hope this column lifts the veil of sheker that has settled over this sensitive issue. American donors to Israeli yeshivas should demand that those yeshivas send the boys who are not learning day and night to the army. Doing so would not only fulfill the instructions of Torah leaders and spare them the indignity of wasting their time, it will keep you from wasting your well-earned and well-intentioned donation money.

Demand transparency. Insist on truth. Nothing else should be expected of those who claim to represent the epitome of truth – our Torah.

About the Author: Rabbi Dov Lipman is a member of the 19th Knesset with the Yesh Atid party. He has rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and a Masters in education from Johns Hopkins University.


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22 Responses to “Time to tell the Truth about the Draft of Haredim”

  1. Doit Koppler says:

    This seems like a fair and balanced approach to me. It is unreasonable to me that supposedly religious citizens, who should be doing the "right" things would distort the truth to be a drag on society. Serving you country in the armed forces or community service increases your moral fiber and makes you a stronger part of the community. To drain the country's resources as welfare and not produce is counter productive to the country I love. Yes, even a Gentile can love Israel. If I was younger I would go to Israel and serve.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The yeshivas are justly afraid to lose control of their students to a government which has often shown disdain for Torah. They figure they are trying to assimilate the yeshiva boys- bring them down from their higher levels. This is true and a dangerous reality- they can't hand over their minds to non believers- who knows what will happen next. You need to keep in context that the same government is cutting back funding for religious schools. ITS A BATTLE FOR THE MINDS OF THE STUDENTS- THE RABBIS ARE BETTER FIT !

  3. Does anyone REALLY read their BIBLE??? The priest and the ARK went out BEFORE (that is in front of) the fighting men. Adonia was always in front bringing victory to Israel. All of this is YA'S preparation to save Israel again. Thank you Rabbi Lipman for a word of TRUTH.

  4. Yechiel Baum says:

    Dixie
    Hashem did not stand to prevent the deaths of the Jews in Europe and the survivors are those who defended themselves, Making your post int he comfort of your home while others die for you doe snot make you right. Factually, you are a coward.You should have served in the Israeli army along with your husband and children to defend Judaism physically and not hide behind your computer or yeshiva. Sending someone else's children to do your work does not make you a patriot or a Jew. Read the Bible and notice how Hashem made the first Jewish draft to liberate Israel with Joshau as the first general. Are the Rabbi's better than Hashem and Joshua or are they simply afraid of losing their salaries at the reduction of elder male students. The Rabbis can reduce Yeshiva tuition by working in the elementary schools at teachers rates and with more available, the tuitions will be compertitvely priced making it less of a hardship. Seems these unpatriotic rabbis make it hard for the Jews in Israel and globally for lack of manpower in the army and lower priced schools.

  5. Yitzhak H Sasson says:

    I think you would be surprised to find out how un-evil the IDF is.

  6. Lipman, if you are correct, you would not need to be misleading. You say it can be served in nachal chareidi, when you know that nachal chareidi is not large enough and is not intended to be expanded enough for those numbers to all serve in nachal chareidi.

    So who are you trying to fool?

  7. Uh, Yechiel, Dixie lives in Oregon, why exactly is she a coward for not joining the IDF?

  8. "many roshei yeshiva have said that 50 to 60 percent of the boys in yeshiva should not be there long term"
    Please bring the names of some of these many

    What happens when more boys than the army "lets" want to learn? Will they go to jail? Your law says they will.

    Either you are a clown, or you think we all are, Dov.

  9. Not soo simple, the army wasn't (or shouldn't have been) controlled by athiests and those who go against the Torah. Like I said its not a simple thing, nor do I not hold the Haredim somewhat accountable as well, but at the very least the army should make more Nachal Haredi type units.

  10. Shoshanna Goldstein Sanders says:

    Not to mention that she is Christian.

  11. It is unacceptable that a single agora of my tax dollars be taken from me to support haredim who refuse to work. If galut Jews wish to give their money to pay for them to sit around and schmooze all day they can give their money to them.

    Their blood is not redder than my sons. No exemptions for them. They can start haredi header program, have nachsl haredi or serve time like everyone else.

    The Torah does not exempt them because they want anb easy life. They aren't learning as we Israelis see them walking around Jerusalem every day shopping. They have plenty of time for violent demonstrations. And they certainly have enough vacation time.

    They have responsibilities. They don't want them let them move to new York and the American Jewish community gan give them free housing, free food and free schools.

  12. I was privellaged to be a commander in the IDF, and I just wanted to add my thoughts.It's quite simple. There is no source whatsoever in Halacha that exempts people who are learning Torah from protecting Jews in Israel. This is not a question of Torah learning or IDF service. A religious Jew has several obligations, amongst them learning Torah and defending his nation against their enemies. Of course, without Torah the nation of Israel is in extreme danger, but without an army, we would simply be depending on miracles which is forebidden. Perhaps there shouldn't be such an organization as 'Hatzalah'; if you have an emergency situation, simply learn Torah! Of course this is utter stupidity. Hashem defends those who take the right measures and perform the right actions, and who know that the ultimate source of everything is Him. Such is the life of a Jew.It would be nice if people would actually read and study the Jewish sources dealing with this subject, before expressing a baseless opinion on a halachic matter. Defending your fellow Jew is not a matter to be taken lightly.

  13. Perhaps Dixie is from Oregon and she is a Christian which does not make her a coward, but let me tell you a secret; fighting in the IDF is not for Israelis, it's for all Jews who believe in the continuation of the Jewish people living in their homeland.

  14. Rivka Gornall Leiner says:

    Yisroel Levin my 2nd son was in the Nachal Charedi and it is not charedi. If it was it would run like hesder-each soldier attached to a charedi yeshiva. It would not take the large number of non charedim. It is also not representative of the variations in the charedi public. My older son went to charuv because the NC had no learning that interested him. He spent many Shabbatot at his chosen yeshiva. And then when they finish they have to go somewhere under Misrad HaChinuch. So it is more a place for DL who want better kashrut and tzniut and not really a place to send a gopod charedi boy.

  15. Rivka Gornall Leiner : I simply mentioned in my comment that the IDF provides the unit with everything needed so that a Charadi soldier can serve while maintaining a Charedi lifestyle.What the Charedi soldiers actually do with these accommodations is their issue, as well as the issue of the leadership of the unit( the unit gets to accept who they want). This being said, Charedim can draft to the army, because the IDF is willing to provide them with the necessary conditions. I don't know when your son served in the unit, but the last drafts were almost entirely Charedi, and there are certainly enough Charedim drafting into the unit without Dati Leumi soldiers.In short, Netzach Yehuda- Nachal Charedi exemplifies the possibility of Charedim drafting to the IDF and receiving their demanded conditions.

  16. It's sad and difficult to say this, but from my understanding of the situation, what really prevents the Charadim from drafting into the IDF is not the non religious atmosphere(because there has been solutions to that issue) or any other reason, but it is, unfortunately, their hatred of and disinterest in Zionism and the secular.This explains why many soldiers, religious and non religious, feel uncomfortable on uniform in Charadi neighborhoods. Look at their media, their street signs against the army etc..If this was simply a question of learning Torah or not, the battle would look much different.Before you argue on this, let me just state that the Israeli public feels the same. If I am wrong, and this is not the Chardadi agenda, well let's just say that the Charadi community have not adequately explained their position and is misleading everybody.
    It's always important to know the route of the issue.

  17. Jonathan Blitz says:

    The main problem I have with the law is the result. It is having the exact opposite of what the lawmakers wished.
    The number of haredim who go into the army has been increasing steadily year by year. It's been a sort of "do it on the quiet" sort of thing. "Don't ask – Don't tell".
    However, now that it is being made law, the Rabbis (not 100% wrongly) believe it to be a "plot" to close down yeshivot. The automatic result is to go into defensive mode.
    The so-called targets set by the law would have happened themselves over the same period.
    The fact is that, as usual, politics and common-sense simply don't go together. It was important for the political parties to "earn their votes" by enacting popular laws.

  18. Everyone.
    No one is more deceptive.

  19. Your assumption is that Torah doesn't protect you . First mistake. You think that Israelis are in invinsible without it?

  20. Those rabbis would never even speak to him

  21. mordechai says:

    Rivka sorry your son was so immature he couldn’t do Mahal Charedi because the learning didn’t interest him. Do haredi yeshivot let the students only learn what interests them.

    If the haredim want a header program I am sure one can be established but if the haredi yeshivot don’t care enough to establish one haredim cannot refuse to join the army as required by halacha.

    The problem is the haredim have reformed Judaism and wish to not follow their obligations as Jews to serve in the army

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