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Rabbi Auerbach: Army Service Means Eradication of Judaism

Refusing service is "a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life."

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Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach speaking on Saturday night, March 2, 2013.

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach speaking on Saturday night, March 2, 2013.
Photo Credit: Kikar HaShabbt

Speaking on Saturday night, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, one of the leading Lithuanian poskim (halachic authorities) for Haredi Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel, pursued his hard line on military service for yeshiva students: “This means the uprooting of religion, this problem concerns ‘klal Israel’ (all the Jews),” Kikar HaShabbt reported.

“I’m not here to deliver sermons,” Rabbi Auerbach opened his speech, calling for Haredi Israelis to “stand guard without any changes, because this is one of the fundamentals of the faith, in the category of ‘ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor’ (a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life).”

“If we wanted to compromise, we could have done it 2000 years ago, and yet throughout all those years many gave their lives for the sake of Torah. If we stick to our position, it will influence those who are far away from us as well, ” Rabbi Auerbach stressed.

“If we stand up for ourselves and make it clear that there is nothing to compromise about, then everyone will understand it. There’s no room for compromise on matters of ‘ye’hareg v’bal ya’avor.’ The Torah is the foundation of the existence of Israel. The Torah is the breath of our noses and we literally depend on it. The issue at hand is nothing short of eradicating our religion, which concerns all the Jews and we must stand as a bulwark to prevent it,” Rabbi Auerbach concluded his harsh message.

According to Kikar HaShabbt, prior to his attack on any attempt at instituting an “equal burden” regarding military service, Rabbi Auerbach had spoken at great length with Rabbi Yizhak Tuvia Weiss, head of the Haredi court, at Auerbach’s residence in Shaarei Chesed, Jerusalem, and it can by surmised that the unrelenting position expressed Saturday night represents a consensus with the Haredi world.

Almost at the same time as the Haredi leader’s speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with President Shimon Peres on live television, decrying the fact that his two largest potential coalition partners, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, were “boycotting” the Haredi parties and refuse to sit with them in his government.

Netanyahu blatantly accused the two parties of “baseless hatred,” which is easily as harsh a statement as Rabbi Auerbach’s, seeing as our tradition blames the destruction of the second Temple on baseless hatred.

For their part, Lapid and Bennett are arguing that it makes no difference to included in a government that sets out to reform Haredi enlistment the very parties that would do everything in their power to jeopardize such a reform.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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Imported and Older Comments:

  1. Well, the Levites were even commanded to join in the battle front to sing praises to God, and God gave them a great victory over the enemy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Rabbi, but you're wrong. The Torah teaches that Moses prayed while the holy soldiers fought. Israel and true Judaism depends on Hashem, and He has discussed army service in Torah with the example of Moshe, & by teaching that soldiers fighting away from home can eat treif. Your Judaism seems divisive & not thankful for the soldier's service, while they protect your yeshivot. Who protects your students from Arabs with snowballs, or worse, rocks?

  3. It is this Rabbi that is destroying the jews. He has one goal the preservation of his power and position. Nothing more , OK may be a money.

  4. David Willig says:

    When Moshe met with the 2 1/2 tribes, he didn't tell them to learn in Kollel. He said Chalutzim taalu, march I the front lines.
    When the Czardrafted 12 year old boys for his army, how many Rabbis died protesting that draft? None that I know of, perhaps because they knew the Czar meant business.
    You do not want to serve in your countries army and protect AM YISRAEL? Leave, go to America, There is no draft in Boro Park and Williamsburg. OR go to Jail. Joseph went to Jail. So did the Alter Rebbe and many other. But stop making a CHILUL HASHEM.

  5. to save medinat yisrael, is to save and protect every Jew everywhere. it is survival, yes learn and pray and also put your own life on the line rather than let someone whom you feel is not as holy as you risk his life for you. aren't you even a little ashamed when you think of Ron Klein. To add to this painful situation, the vast majority of haredi yeshivot and shuls do not even take 2 minutes to pray for the welfare of our courageous soldiers. you create so much jealousy and hatred by letting others die for you.

  6. israels survival is of the utmost importance.as a small nation that has survived four wars.thanks to the early pioneers.every jew must do their share in defending the nation.religious beliefs should not interfere with the survival of the country.asking other jews to defend the nation.while the religious factions sit on the side lines is a no no.

  7. Ronnie Pleet says:

    The last time we didn't fight, we were practically exterminated, Rabbi from Lithuania.

  8. Jj Gross says:

    If Rabbi Auerbach considers army service yehareg v'bal yaavor he is not only an idiot, he is an am haaretz to boot. This miserable, lonely old man never listened to his sainted father — always a fanatic with no clue about human relations and human responsibilities.

  9. Given current population growth within 3 generations Hareidi will be the majority so it's a necessity for both sides to accommodate and acclimate for the very survival of the state of Israel. In the original state of Israel there were no such exemptions to learn Torah because as it says in Torah Na Aseh Va Nishma (you shall do and you shall listen).

  10. Ron Kall says:

    Without service in the IDF, no Jew will be alive to study Torah. Rabbi, wake up and smell the homicidal and fatal Jew hatred surrounding you!

  11. Adrienne Sasson says:

    Ron, I agree with you 100000%!

  12. Mildred Bilt says:

    And the good hareidi of Europe also did not smuggle arms and go into the forests to kill whatever Nazis they could find. They told their followers to keep their heads in the Talmud and everything would be fine. History keeps repeating itself- or could it be that the worst enemies of Jewish babies are the hareidi? They belong to some victim cult that thrills when the people are butchered.

  13. Charlie Hall says:

    I know lots of religious Jews who served in the IDF.

  14. Alex Shapiro says:

    So the Haredim do not want to serve in the IDF? Fine! Most Israelis see the service in the IDF as a privilege and important stage of life, which gives a person a real maturity. But the government should immediately stop any support of the yeshivot in such a case. The parasites should not live at the expense of the Israeli taxpayers who share the national burden, serve in the IDF and work. Most of the Jewish sages were working during the day and studied the Torah at night.According to the Torah the world is based on the Torah, work and charity. These people do not work and do not give charity, only ask for it.

  15. Gary Chuven says:

    This man's comments are not worth dignifying with a measured, rational, Torah-based response. He is a rodef, a pursuer, whose main aim is the destruction of K'lal Yisrael.

  16. It's a sad commentary to learn after all these years that a learned Rabbi still believes in fairy tales. Only those capable and willing to defend themselves can survive. I learned to my HORROR that niether prayer nor Hashem protected the 6 Million. Perhaps you can prove to the Jewish world that it will be different now.

  17. Stan Miller says:

    Joshua was an orthodox Jew.
    One can assume that his soldiers followed the laws of the Torah.
    The Rabbi should look to real history and not idealized fantasy.
    And the lord commanded them to fight.

  18. Mark Leaman says:

    I would like to use some strong bad language but I will hold myself back from doing so, I am an orthodox Jew and a Zionist and believe that all Jews should do their service in the army or national service, what's the difference between my son who is doing Hesder and fighting for his country and those who are lazy bums sitting down all day. Jews are all equal.

  19. Stephanie Taylor says:

    Love your comment, well said!!!!!!! Jonathan did three years in the army as he ditched the idea of Hesder, he never took his kippa off and he led most services in the army on Shabbat and Yom Tov when he could not get home. All his friends in the army and most of them were not religious although the sefardim are very traditional gave him a lot of respect when they would all go out together for a meal they knew it could only be at a kosher restaurant.

  20. Zusha Flower Frumin says:

    i'll say it for you…..F….Y…..

  21. how on earth then did the former Israelites ever enter the Holy Land, if they had not fought along the way, those who did not want them to pass through their land, Wasnt the Lord G-d with them then? I think it would show the world that they are cowardly and not wanting to protect their home, land and family.

  22. So basically, he's saying they should fight to the death in order NOT to fight to defend their fellow Jews.

  23. Let them show their commitment to that cause by not accepting any support from the state that asks them to serve.

  24. Rubin Katz says:

    What this chief misnagid is preaching is tantamount to sedition. During the Shoah, Rabbis advised their flock to put their trust in the Almighty; it didn't do us any good. Rabbis make poor generals!

  25. I pray to god each night that he ( or she) save us ( Jews) from these lunatic orthodox rabbis.

  26. Louis Kanner says:

    you do not get to talk like that about a gadol bdor it makes no difference if you like,understand or agree with him or not

  27. Anthony Sole says:

    They are the only ones going to heaven, don't you know.

  28. Anonymous says:

    How ludicrous all of these shallow gut reaction predictable comments.

  29. RabbiRachamim Pauli says:

    I did my border patrol and so did my oldest son. Both of us would have preferred learning in Kollel instead of sleeping 4 hrs a night sometimes with mice on our beds and plenty of flies.

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