A Letter From a Troubled Charedi Father

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10 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Yasher Koach to R Landesman for calmly identifying the issues as he perceives them from his place within the Charedi world.

  2. YM Goldstein says:

    I am one of those chutzniks who has commented on the situation, although I hope I have not stepped over the line.

    My understanding is that the decision to not cooperate with the new draft law was made by the combined political and rabbinical leadership of Degel, the Agudath and Shas, presumably this includes Rabbi Landesman’s current rebbi, or his rebbi, etc. Based on my understanding of what having a rebbi means, I am surprised that you would want to be publicly critical of the stance taken by your rebbi. When I started learning Gemara many years ago, I was taught “Don’t say the Talmud is wrong; say, ‘I don’t understand'”


  3. Baruch says:

    Yasher koiach to CC for publishing this piece.

    As a chutznik alumnus of a hesder yeshiva, I have long felt that for every incident where army orders conflicted with religious practice, there are hundreds upon hundreds of incidents where reasonable accommodations were made. The small number of unfortunate incidents – which certainly should not be ignored, and must be seriously addressed – are blown up and portrayed as proof to the alleged religious persecution that goes on in Tzahal.

    I think it all goes back to Rabbi Wein’s piece that was circulating a couple of months ago. The charedi narrative since Zionism began is that it is a catastrophe, and they cannot come to terms with the fact that it has turned out to be otherwise. And so the charedim continue to underscore all the warts in an otherwise magnificent country. It’s very sad.

  4. Eliyahu says:

    From Arutz7 on April 11
    The controversial Enlistment Law, passed mid-March and mandating hareidi enlistment to the IDF, appears to have had exactly the opposite effect – hareidi draft rates for March testify to a sharp decline.
    Only 140 draftees enlisted to Nahal Hareidi (hareidi brigade) this March, marking a 30% drop from the previous enlistment. According to official statistics published Friday by Yedioth Ahronoth, the brigade inducted a record 226 soldiers last August; last November 200 soldiers were drafted.
    While there had been talk in the IDF of opening an additional hareidi brigade due to the previous growth of the existing brigade, the IDF recently decided to freeze the additional brigade for the time being.
    Last August, two units were opened for the new brigade due to the increased demand. In November, the IDF reduced that to one and a half units, and later with the decrease in inductees those plans were cut down to one regular unit.
    Controversial “culture war” law is the culprit
    The IDF has acknowledged that the main cause for the decrease in hareidi draftees is the widespread opposition to the new law, which was strongly opposed in mass protests, including a rally in Jerusalem in March that attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.
    The Nahal Hareidi Foundation notes that the decline in enlistment comes due to the new law, as well as the discussion about extending army service by four months, from 24 to 28 months.
    “If last year, thank G-d, we saw calm in terms of the treatment of hareidi soldiers, in recent months the public atmosphere has been severely damaging, and thrown things back by at last a year,” stated the Foundation.
    Speaking about the extension of army service, a rabbi with the Nahal Hareidi Foundation remarked “these things have started permeating the ground, and causing a serious drop in motivation to enlist.” “Up till today, at the end of two years of service the soldiers would study a career in the remaining year to prepare themselves for the work world. The extension of service is a critical blow to the year of learning for soldiers,” added the rabbi.
    It is worth noting that despite the drastic drop in hareidi enlistment to the combat Nahal Hareidi unit, army tracks catering to hareidim in the Intelligence Corps, the Air Force, and Teleprocessing Corps have not seen a drop in enlistment, hinting that draftees there come from families interested in having them acquire a career.
    IDF statistics report that 898 hareidim enlisted in 2010; 1,282 in 2011; 1,447 in 2012; and 1,858 in 2013. By the coming summer it is anticipated that 2,000 hareidim will enlist, apparently meeting the goal numbers of the Enlistment Law, but there are expected to be serious social problems facing continued drafts by the end of the year.
    An IDF official noted “our draftees are having trouble today, they can’t walk around the neighborhoods like they used to, and their treatment has changed. …They don’t return home in their uniforms any more like they used to, because the hareidi society has turned against them.”
    There have indeed been attacks by hareidim against hareidi soldiers. Last July, a hareidi soldier was attacked by a hareidi mob in Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood, requiring police to save him. Just days later another hareidi soldier was attacked in Jerusalem.
    “If a wide-ranging process isn’t embarked upon with the (hareidi) rabbis, the drop in motivation to enlist will only continue,” warned the official.

  5. Joe Hill says:

    “that is not a heter for avoiding the draft”

    A heter isn’t necessary. There is no chiyuv in the first place.

  6. Joe Hill says:

    “First of all, Netzach continues to grow despite the brouhaha surrounding the current controversy.”

    That isn’t accurate. From today’s news:

    Haredi Draft Law leads to decline in ultra-Orthodox recruitment
    The IDF says the sharp decline in Haredi enlistment to the Nahal Brigade stems from the hostile public protest to the Draft Law.


  7. YEA says:

    Please publish more articles from Rabbi Landesman. Why is he still only a guest contributor?

  8. Mixed message? says:

    Ironic that you started your piece quoting Rav Dov Schwartzman z”l, for it was he who paskened for me many years ago, after I had learned in a top kollel for almost a decade, and considered doing army service before moving to chutz la’aretz, that I should not do that. I should rather become an arik (deserter). He told me going from that kollel straight to the army would be a chillul of that kollel.

    Go figure!

  9. cvmay says:

    Mixed Message: Seems like Rav Schwartzmann meant first take a hiatus and then join the IDF, so that that Kollel would not have the artificial stain of a ex-Yeshiva guy joining.

  10. Mixed message? says:

    cvmay, in theory that’s exactly what Rav Dov Schwartzman was saying with that psak. But the reality was, and he fully understood it, that I would not be able to return to do that service.

    My point was to show that he considered it a stain on the kollel to have a member join the army. And he didn’t want to encourage anyone there from doing the same. And yet the article talks of how it is workable to be in the army. From my personal anecdote I found that ironic.

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