R' Waldman: We're All Har Bracha

Rabbi Eliezer Waldman of Kiryat Arba: Defense Minister Barak's move against Har Bracha Yeshiva united all Zionist rabbinical leaders.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 11:20 PM

Hesder soldiers
Hesder soldiers
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, head of the Nir Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba, told Arutz Sheva on Monday that the Defense Minister's removal of the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the Hesder program has essentially united all factions among religious-Zionist rabbis.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak's behavior towards the Har Bracha Yeshiva and its dean, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, is "extremely grave," in Rabbi Waldman's words. "It was an action taken in opposition to all the agreements and relations between Hesder yeshiva heads and the Defense Ministry," he added.

Rabbi Waldman explained that the rule of thumb that guided relations between the ministry and the yeshivas until now was that "nothing be done unilaterally, rather through agreement and with mutual respect." As opposed to that understanding, the rabbi continued, "the Defense Minister took an egregious unilateral step which he had no right to make. In my opinion, he has caused a situation in which, even if we have differences of opinion, we are all now Har Bracha."

No fear
The rabbi is not fearful that such a unified position taken by Hesder yeshiva heads in support of Rabbi Melamed would lead to Defense Ministry sanctions on the entire Hesder program. "We are not afraid of the punishment of the Defense Minister," he said. "I hope that he will recover and return to a responsible path in relation to the IDF and the state." In fact, all of the nation must review its relation to Rabbi Melamed, Rabbi Waldman added, asking, "What is he -- a criminal?"

As for the issue of soldiers waving protest signs in the army against expelling Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria, Rabbi Waldman said that the issue was blown out of proportion. "The Defense Minister himself is aware that the Hesder yeshiva heads, including Rabbi Melamed, oppose demonstrations within the army. It is unreasonable to force a particular verbal formulation on a yeshiva dean. It would have been possible to make a simple inquiry and Rabbi Melamed's views would have been made clear," he said.

Rabbi Waldman does not rule out the possibility that the decision to treat Rabbi Melamed in such an extreme fashion is intended as a threat against the rest of the Hesder yeshiva deans. The rabbis leading the nation's Hesder yeshivas are slated to meet in coming days to discuss the appropriate reaction to Defense Minister Barak's actions regarding the Har Bracha Yeshiva.

"The independence of yeshiva deans must not be infringed," Rabbi Waldman concluded.