Sephardic Chief Rabbi Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar on Wednesday said that Tuesday's earthquake was caused by persecution of Hareidi men who avoid military service.
"The fact that the Torah and those who study it are being persecuted, that there are schisms within the Jewish nation that may create, God forbid, incitement and hate – is very serious," the rabbi said.
"See for yourself, the (political) storm has just begun and yesterday we were told that there was an earthquake in Israel," he added.
"We have no fear," he noted, "We have a promise from God that 'it will not be forgotten' (the Torah). It has never been forgotten, it will never be forgotten…The world of Torah will continue, the yeshiva students will continue (to study), scholars – their glory will continue to rise with honor.
"We need to pray," he added. "Hate needs to be feared, schisms need to be feared, Torah has nothing to fear and Torah students have nothing to fear.
"There were many periods (in our history) that were more difficult, there were great kings that rose up against Israel with bottomless hate.
"They think that (the yeshiva students) are draft-dodgers. Let them, the heroes, try and sit and study one week all day and see what real hardship is.
"The devil is great artist, and every time it comes, in a new, interesting and thrilling visage… it is all false, idleness, deception and barefaced lies."
"The earthquake occurred due to disputes among the people of Israel, and criticism of Torah scholars," Rabbi Amar said during a radio interview. "There is criticism against the Torah and its learners."