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.