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Petition of Hesder Yeshiva Educators in Support of R. Melamed

Rabbis and educators support Har Bracha Hesder Yeshiva Head in struggle with the Ministry of Defense.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/17/2009, 8:43 PM / Last Update: 12/17/2009, 8:40 PM

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Support for Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Head of Har Bracha Yeshiva, is growing. A petition supporting Rabbi Melamed in his ideological showdown with the Minister of Defense, signed by rabbis and educators countrywide, has reached Arutz Sheva.

The letter reads as follows:

An open letter
From rabbis/educators in the Hesder yeshivas
To the yeshiva students, and youth awaiting conscription

 Dear students and youths!

We turn to you at a time in which many in the country are discussing the relationship between Torah commandments and the authority of the military commander.

As educators who send their students to serve in the IDF, we are committed to answer this question in a clear and precise way, as we were taught by our greatest rabbis: Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren of blessed memory,  Chief Rabbi Avraham Elkana Shapira of blessed memory, Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli of blessed memory and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neria of blessed memory.

We have therefore written the following before you:

May you only be strong!

By the grace of G-d we have been given the gift of living in a time of redemption. A time of ingathering of exiles, of establishment of the State and a Jewish defense force, the Israel Defense Force or IDF. All these constitute a great sanctification of G-d's name and are steps toward the complete redemption.
To our sorrow, for some time now, the army is also being used for purposes that have nothing to do with defending Israel, and are contrary to the will of Hashem, as it appears in the holy Torah. This situation throws the soldiers of the IDF into a reality in which there is a contradiction between the commandments of G-d and the orders of the military commander.

Therefore, we must teach ourselves and all of Israel, that our belief in Hashem the G-d of Israel and the acceptance of the yoke of His Kingdom, are the source of our devotion in the war to assist Israel. We need to make it clear to everyone that this loyalty to Hashem stands above all other loyalties, to the government or to the army.

Through this very trouble shall we be delivered.

We will make it clear that while it is true that the army has one commander – he, too, must be loyal to the G-d of Israel. This clarification will uplift our army to loyalty to Hashem our G-d, a loyalty through which the true Israeli military consciousness shall be clarified.  It is not “my power and the might of my hand that hath gotten me this wealth, but the Lord your God... gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8).

The Gemara in Sanhedrin Tractate teaches us that it is a mistake to declare loyalty to a flesh and blood king without noting that our primary loyalty is to the Word of Hashem!

The Yad Ramah [a 12th century Jewish sage from Spain – ed.] explains the passage by saying that any declaration of loyalty must be carried out in the fashion of the sons of Gad and Reuven, who told Joshua: “As we obeyed everything that Moses told us so shall we obey you, only let the Lord your G-d be with you as He was with Moses; Every man who goes against your orders will be put to death, may you only be strong.”

They declared loyalty and then lessened it, in case they would be ordered to transgress against the Torah and its commandments.

We teach our students, the Hesder Yeshiva students, to be loyal soldiers out of a commitment to to the Word of Hashem. We are certain that the Name of the Lord which we bear is what strikes fear into the hearts of our enemies, and it is what awards us with salvation and the glory of victory. 

Signed,

Rabbi Yigal Abutbul, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Ben Tzon Elgazi, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shmuel Eckstein, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai, Kiryat Arba Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shlomo Binyamin, Lev LaDaat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Ariel Bareli, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Ohad Baruchi, Tverya Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Eyal Gefen, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Chaim Gross, Mitzpeh Eshtamoa Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Amir Garti, Shavei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Erez Vatik, Shavei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shiloh Tovi, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva, Sderot
Rabbi Elisha Yinon, Beit Shean Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yaakov Yehudah Yakir, Beir Orot Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yitzchak Levi, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yishai Lange, Beit Orot Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yair Frank, Shiloh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Nachum Tzafri, Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Noam Konigsberg, Shaalabim Hesder Yeshiva
Rabi Eliyahu Shachor, Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shalom Shmidt, Ramat Gan Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yedidya Shimon, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva


The organizers said that the list is a preliminary one.