Rabbi David Stav
Rabbi David StavIsrael National News

Rabbi David Stav, Chief Rabbi of Shoham and chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical organization, presents a new approach to bringing the haredi community to IDF service.

‘’Every Jewish resident of the state of Israel has to serve in the army, no exceptions,” Rabbi Stav told Arutz Sheva - Israel National News. “It’s a commandment from God, Maimonides writes clearly that it means even newlyweds, and the prophetess Devorah curses those who do not report for duty (Judges 5:15, 5:23).”

He turned to the practical aspects of the problem: “It is impossible to force a million people to go to the IDF. None of the past proposals were ever implemented practically, and the IDF actually faked numbers because it is impossible to force people into the army against their will. Today, the State exempts them from the army and instead encourages them to join the workforce, rather than label them as draft dodgers and illegal workers.”

“We suggest that the law be altered to allow any religious individual to exempt themselves from the army by declaring that it contradicts their lifestyle. This will remove the dependency on the yeshiva community and allow the government to instead encourage service in other organizations, such as the Fire and Rescue Service, MDA, and ZAKA, and from there provide the national service vouchers needed for a better education and integration into the workforce.

“This will start a process in which those who do not study go to the army, and those who do not go to the army do national service, and those who do not do national service will at least get an education and become part of the Israeli economy. It is not going to be over in one day, but it can be started.”

The real shift, he noted, will occur between haredi community leaders and the haredi public: “They will no longer be dependent on the issue of us and politicians. There will be no more games of draft quotas and pretending that someone is haredi when they are not. We are not forbidding anyone from studying Torah, we are simply making it no longer dependent on the yeshiva. The leaders will likely be concerned about this, since it undercuts their power.”

Rabbi Stav believes that the war has negated any fears of causing further division in the nation: “The spirit of the nation right now is in a very elevated state, and the public will punish any politician who tries to divide us by blaming anyone for causing divides and protests.”

He nevertheless called for a reform of Israel's political culture: “There must no more boycotting of any candidate to be prime minister, no more labeling of fascists or traitors, no more being friendly to enemies. Additionally, immediately after the war, we must go to elections to let the people choose new leadership, whether from the right or left. We must also forget about right- and left-wing government, forming a government from all parts of mainstream Israeli society.”

Rabbi Stav has supreme confidence that public morale will remain high, whatever happens: “The spirit of the people is incredible. Walk the streets of Israel, meet with the soldiers, see the wives sending their husbands to reserve duty with no excuses or hesitations, and you will see how strong we are,” he concluded.