Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of the Har Bracha Yeshiva lambasted Defense Minister Ehud Barak Monday for “libeling” yeshiva students.

"The defense establishment which makes it possible to drag the army into political disputes is the one endangering the army."

“Unfortunately I have become a focus of public interest and of an act of malevolence by the Defense Minister,” he said. “They attack us and say that a soldier must have a commander and that the commander cannot be his rabbi. The Defense Minister accuses us of destabilizing the foundations of democracy and inciting the students to refusal, and of damaging the spirit of the IDF.”

"There are deep disagreements in Israeli society but this is a libel against us and against our Torah, whose words are good and true," he continued. "The public is being incited to believe that the rabbis are endangering the existence of the army. But this is not true. A defense establishment which makes it possible to drag the army into political disputes is the one endangering the army, because there is no conflict between the commander and the rabbi on security matters. The Halacha [Jewish Law] says that a soldier must obey his commander in both training and battle.”

He recounted that during the Second Lebanon War, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, “in an unfortunate choice of words,” that the war would make it possible to carry out the Convergence plan [for expelling Jews from parts of Judea and Samaria].

“I wrote in my weekly column Revivim that it is still a mitzvah [commandment] to go out to battle because, as bad as things are in the IDF, our situation would be infinitely worse if we did not have the IDF,” he said. “And women called me and asked for rabbinical permission to exempt their husbands from service. And I told them that according to Halacha, their husbands should go and fight. And so they were able to sleep more soundly, but I was not able to sleep soundly.

“I wrote that it would be better not to [launch a ground invasion], but that if an order were given they should follow it and added prayers that they would make it through the war unharmed.”

He was speaking at a special conference convened “for encouragement and solidarity” with Rabbi Melamed and the Har Bracha Yeshiva at Orot HaTorah synagogue in Bat Yam.

Hebrew Video: Rabbi Melamed speaks at Bat Yam synagogue:


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