A large group of spiritual and political leaders of religious Zionism met Tuesday to discuss the enlistment of full-time yeshiva students (such a student is called "Torato umanuto"- his skill is Torah learning, ed.) into the military, which has become a key issue determining the future of the Likud-led coalition.
The meeting was attended by Rabbi of Beit El, Rav Zalman Melamed; Rav Haim Druckman, Head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivas Center; Rav Tzefania Drori, Rabbi of Kiryat Shmona and Rav Eitan Eisman, Head of Tzvia Institutes.
Also in attendance were MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel (National Union); MKs Zevulun Orlev and Uri Orbach (Jewish Home); Rav Eli Ben Dahan, Director of Derekh Emuna Rabbis and Yehuda Duvdevani, founder of the Nahal Hareidi program.
The participants issued the following statement at the conclusion of the meeting:
1. Torah study is a supreme value that must not be compromised. The continued learning of Torah scholars must be encouraged, and Torah sages must be raised for the strength of the state.
2. It is a holy duty for every person in Israel to participate in safeguarding the security of the state of Israel, whose wars are defined as a sacred commandment (mitzvah) as they defend the existence of the nation of Israel in its land and are fought against enemies of the Jewish people. (Ed. note: Halakhah defines another kind of war called "permitted war", initiated by a ruler for reasons other than survival and defeating enemies. This war has various loopholes for non-participation.)
3. The proper ways need to be found for implementing both of these basic values in such a way that both national missions are fully manifested in the bill being hammered out.
The participants were unanimous in the opinion that the problem cannot be solved in "a violent and hot-headed way." Representatives of the group will meet with those responsible for formulating the new law that is to regulate enlistment of full time yeshiva students and other sectors to the IDF and to alternative national service programs.