Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
Rabbi Chaim KanievskyYaakov Naumi/Flash 90

One of the leading rabbinic authorities in the haredi community lambasted anti-draft demonstrators affiliated with the Yerushalmi Faction (Jerusalem Faction) movement, calling them “empty, foolish and reckless people” after a series of protests across the country following the arrest of two haredi draft dodgers.

After a series of smaller protests last week, the Yerushalmi Faction declared a “Day of Rage” last Thursday, leading hundreds of supporters to protest around the country.

Some 120 demonstrators were arrested for blocking roads and clashing with police officers.

Led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, the Yerushalmi Faction has rejected the mainstream haredi approach of relying upon deferments provided by the army for full-time yeshiva students to avoid be drafted.

Rabbi Auerbach has called upon supporters not to cooperate with the IDF in any capacity, even to secure a draft deferment, instead encouraging young haredi men to ignore the draft board and if necessary be arrested.

On Thursday, Rabbi Kanievsky penned a statement slamming Yerushalmi Faction demonstrators, likening them to a flock ‘without a shepherd’. The statement was published in Yated Neeman on Friday.

"I was outraged when I heard recently how the honor of the Torah was utterly desecrated by a few empty, foolish and reckless people who insulted one of the great Torah educators of our generation,” wrote Kanievsky.

“They did so in various ways that cannot even be described. They're acting like sheep who have no shepherd - there is no fear of Heaven here! Woe unto us that such a thing could happen today."