Hesder Rabbi: Support Hareidi Exemptions
Rabbi Avraham Baron, former Chairman of the Hesder Yeshivas Association, said that the Jewish Home party was on the wrong side when it came to demanding that students in hareidi yeshivas be drafted. If hareidi yeshiva students are drafted, he said, the Hesder yeshivas will be damaged as well, he said.
“Unfortunately only 15% of National Religious youth go to full time yeshivas, and the vast majority have nothing to do with yeshivas,” Baron told Arutz Sheva. Therefore, he said, it's very easy for members of the community to attack full-time study in yeshiva.
But doing so is a mistake. “There are many good reasons to support the hareidi yeshivas in their attempts to ensure maximal full-time study for all who wish to study,” he said. “I am very hopeful that as a result of this crisis, the National Religious and hareidi communities will join hands, both politically and practically. We must realize that the principle of Torah study for all is one that is common to both our communities. If the world of hareidi yeshivas is compromised, there will be no Mercaz Harav either,” he said.
According to Rabbi Baron, the real issue is not drafting hareidi yeshiva students, but encouraging them to get an education and work. “As someone who has worked extensively on the issue, I can tell you that the IDF is not interested in, and is not capable of, absorbing large numbers of hareidim. Instead it would make more sense to encourage hareidim to go to work, by lowering the age of the framework of IDF service for exemptees from its current 28 years of age to 22. I have no doubt that many students will want to leave the yeshivas if this is done,” without the need for a divisive and wasteful draft that will lead nowhere, he said.