Torah dedication celebration at Netzah Yehuda
Torah dedication celebration at Netzah Yehuda Gavriel Dabush

A rabbi who has spent years working with religious-Zionist and hareidi-religious army recruits has warned that the government’s plans to require hareidi men to enlist are causing thousands to move in the opposite direction – away from the IDF.

Rabbi Avraham Brown’s former jobs include working to integrate hareidi men in the IDF and heading the Hesder yeshiva [Torah academy] network. He spoke to Arutz Sheva about the planned law to mandate hareidi-religious enlistment.

“This law will torpedo the enlistment of thousands of hareidi men in the upcoming years,” he warned. “[Even] hareidi men who aren’t learning in yeshiva and were planning to enlist” will not enlist if the law passes, he said.

“It’s a law that will hurt the economy, that will prevent thousands of hareidi men under the age of 26 from working legally. It will also hurt the Torah world, because they’re treating yeshivas like academic departments, like the number of students can be cut,” he argued.

The Shaked Committee (Equal Burden of Service Committee), which is discussing the various options regarding hareidi enlistment, has not even invited hareidi experts to come speak, he said. “They didn’t invite Rabbi Rabad, who established ‘Shachar Kachol’ in the air force, or me,” he related.

The two met privately with committee head MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), he revealed. “We sat with her at home and explained that those who have dropped out and who aren’t learning in yeshivas could be enlisted, that there is a hareidi consensus there, but unfortunately they still have not discussed that proposal,” he said.

The depth of the mistake will soon come to light, he warned, “The enlistment law will lead to conflict, and it will hurt the army… There are enough [yeshiva] dropouts who could join technological units and enlist later. All this debate just put a stop to everything.”

The rabbi’s warning follows a similar warning from Rabbi Yoel Shwartz, who established the Netzach Yehuda (Nachal Hareidi) Brigade for hareidi-religious soldiers. Rabbi Shwartz warned that if plans to require hareidi men to enlist move forward, “nobody will enlist… Nobody will dare to enlist.”