Hareidi IDF Rabbi: 'Hate Creating New Tisha B'Av'

The attempt to force hareidi religious yeshiva students to enlist in the IDF is a mistake, said Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, a top IDF official

David Lev ,

Hareidi soldiers
Hareidi soldiers

The attempt to force hareidi religious yeshiva students to enlist in the IDF is a huge mistake that will rip Israeli society apart, said the man who knows perhaps more than any Israeli about hareidi service in the IDF – Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, the man who first came up with the idea for the Nachal Hareidi program and pushed for its adoption.

In an interview with Army Radio, Schwartz said that the attack on an IDF soldier from the hareidi community earlier this week by a hareidi mob in Meah Shearim could be a sign of things to come. “It is as if we are creating a new Tisha B'av,” he said, referring to the fast days when Jews fast and commemorate the destruction of previous Jewish national commonwealths. “We have a clash between two world views, and they are failing to respect each other's beliefs.”

The issue for the hareidi religious community is not how many or few students are allowed to remain n yeshiva, but the fact that yeshiva students are being drafted at all. “When I order somebody to do something I am in control of them,” he said. “As hareidi Jews, we feel that the secular government is foreign to us” and is trying to control them.

Much of the blame for the bad feelings can be placed on the army itself, he said, which has showed itself to be very unwelcoming to yeshiva students. “Recently two top soldiers were thrown out of an officers' course because they did not want to listen to women singing, for religious reasons,” he said. “Incidents like this tell hareidi Jews that there is no place for them in the IDF.”

With that, he added, it was forbidden to give up hope that the gaps could be bridged. “Otherwise G-d would not have put us in this land together.