Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, the leader of the Lithuanian (non-Hasidic) sector of hareidi Jewry and acknowledged leader of the Lithuanian yeshiva movement, sharply attacked the new government, calling it “a government of evildoers” (memshelet zadon), and terming one of its main anchors, Yair Lapid, “an evildoer who was raised by an evil father.”
Rabbi Steinman was updated Wednesday night on the coalition negotiations by the three members of the Degel Hatorah party, MKs Moshe Gafni, Uri Maklev, and Ya'akov Asher. Degel Hatorah, along with the Hassidic-oriented Agudat Yisrael, make up United Torah Jewry.
Rabbi Steinman slammed the prospective government over its intention to require most Hareidi yeshiva students to serve in the IDF or National Service. “At this particular time, as Torah learning and the yeshiva world grows and prospers, especially now as so many are returning to Judaism, the satan (evil inclination) interferes and tries to do evil,” Rabbi Steinman said. “But we must not be discouraged. The Jewish people have survived many evildoers, and this group will not succeed in breaking our spirit. We know that those who persecute the Jewish people are destined for leadership” in the period of exile, “and that is why this is happening,” he said.
“They (the secular forces) want to inspect and see who is learning Torah full time and who is not,” Rabbi Steinman continued. “How is it possible to remain hareidi with the difficult spiritual level of the army?” According to reports, the coalition agreement includes a commitment by the government to pass a law that would allow no more than 1,800 exemptions for top yeshiva students. All the rest would be drafted.
“It is understandable how Yair Lapid, an evil man who is the son of an evil father, could do this,” Rabbi Steinman added. “But why does Naftali Bennett, who himself is religious, interfere with the world of Torah? They must realize that we are united, and thus we will succeed in ensuring the integrity of the Torah world,” he said.