The Day After Is Now

Since that day of infamy in October, we’ve been speculating about how the Jewish world would look different, once the war was over. We deferred talking about the day after, in order to focus on soldiers, captives, displaced families, and a palpable sense of national unity.

Time conspired against affording us the luxury of waiting. Some decisions can no longer wait. We have to act upon them now, or others will act for us. One of those decisions will be painful. The other should be a joy.

The bitter news first.

It took a trip to a meeting in NY to hear from the incredibly talented writer at Tablet, Liel Leibovitz, what the accepted response is supposed to be to the question, “How are you?” these days. It’s a tricky question. If you answer too positively, you seem insensitive. Too negatively, and you become a burdensome demoralizer. What should you say? “Kemo kulanu”/like all of us.

That brilliantly sums up the pain, the concern, the uncertainty, and the resolve of the country.

It works. For almost everyone but us charedim.

While parts of our community have been wonderfully responsive, with meals for soldiers, with tefillos and learning, we are not kemo kulanu. With some exceptions, we have not experienced what is the rule in the rest of the country. We don’t have multiple close relatives and friends serving on the front for four months. We have not gone to shiva homes of people who are our neighbors. We are not providing assistance on a daily basis to mothers taking care of households of children, while their husbands are dodging bullets.

To claim – as so many do – that there are different ways to support the war effort, and we are doing our job seems to me to be obscene. It might be true intellectually, but as a response to people who have spend months of sleepless nights, worrying about close relatives who are soldiers and hostages, it is a complete failure emotionally. I see it as the equivalent of trying to comfort someone mourning a tragic and unanticipated death with, “They are in a much better place now.” Foolish, obtuse, and clueless. (Personally, I can’t buy it even on paper. I don’t feel the yoke, the urgency in the charedi community. A few Tehillim are recited after davening, but wherever I’ve been, it is done in a perfunctory manner, as if discharging some burden. The charedi malls are full of shoppers, buying whatever they were buying before the war – which is not true in the rest of the country. In yeshivos that are known for lots of hasmoda, I see the same hasmoda. No more; no less. I haven’t heard of organized shifts in the beis medrash 24/7, like Rav Ruderman zt”l established at Ner Israel in 1967 before the June War.)

Some people from outside the charedi world have been polite about this point to me, although I’ve detected their unease in their body language. Others are quite vocal and bitter – particularly in the Dati Leumi community, that is said to have sustained 30-40% of the combat fatalities. Some 800 Dati Leumi mothers recently wrote an anguished but reasonable letter calling on charedi mothers to acknowledge the inequities of their losses – and to do something about it. Betzalel Smotrich was at one time not long ago an effective voice from outside the charedi world calling on people to recognize the contributions of charedim, as well as to preserve exemptions for bnei Torah. Now, even he is gently stating that we must find a way to close the contribution gap.

The time of reckoning about the blanket exemption of charedim from military and national service has arrived. While it is prudent never to say never, it would appear that the situation is very different today than it was at any time in the history of the State. The patience of the rest of the population has run out; some of the excuses for not serving have met a violent end. “They don’t really need us.” “Israel should abolish the draft, and move towards an all-volunteer army.” No one can take those claims seriously anymore. The IDF is strapped for manpower. It is removing future recruits from training programs that were to give them months more preparation (including Torah study in the religious programs), because they are needed now on the front. The term of service has been extended for both regular service and the annual service in reserve units. In other words, a heavy burden has just been made even heavier.

It does not seem so likely that the default response of our community – sit back, weather the storm, and watch it blow over – is going to work. There is a distinct danger that if we don’t come up with some reasonable proposal, others may impose one. There are several signs that this may be the case. First, as mentioned, the mood of the country has shifted. Ironically, this is at a time that many who were not sympathetic at all to Torah or charedim have become much more so in the spirit of achdus, and the general move to more emunah since Oct.7. Despite the softening of hostility towards charedim (kudos to Shai Graucher for that, among many more), insistence on some “sharing of the burden” is also gaining strength. (By “sharing of the burden” I mean the way they define it, not the way we decide to define it for them. So much of what we do when we insist that we love them sounds like what marriage counselors report about husbands who insist they love their wives, proving their case by showing how much they give their spouses. Which is true. They give in the ways they are comfortable giving, but not what their spouses want to receive! The same applies to serving the country.)

Second, the united front concerning the draft that the charedi world previously enjoyed may be unravelling. MK Margi (Shas) certainly sounded last week that he would accept drafting those who really were not learning full-time. (Theoretically, the Litvish world also accepts this – dating back to statements of Rav Shach – but has never been on board with implementing it. Everyone knows that there are “yeshivos” that serve those who do not learn all day, or even part of the day.) And even drafting genuine learners at a more advanced age – say 23 or 24 – rather than at 18 was implied as acceptable, so long as the they would not be disturbed during the most formative years of Torah learning. Can the Litvish world go at it without the Sefardim?

If the Yeshivah world fails to offer any proposal at all regarding the draft situation, it may find itself even more isolated than before, and more fiercely targeted by non-charedim, despite the good will generated in recent months. This would be especially ironic, given that one change has taken place within the charedi world. While everything else – including what I write – remains speculative, it can be said with certainty that the way charedim relate to the IDF has shifted to much greater appreciation and gratitude than before. In other words, we are so close – and yet so far.

Now for the more pleasant choices we should be making, albeit somewhat earlier than anticipated: How to best sustain the openness of the larger Israeli public to reexamining what being Jewish means to them. It could be an evanescent reaction to dual horrors of Oct. 7th, and the way Jews globally have been spurned. Maybe it will vanish, as soon as things return to “normal.” But maybe it won’t. We need to think of investing in the national hirhur teshuvah, not just donating to it, and there are things we could be doing now to keep the biggest opportunity for a national return to roots, in large part or small, going for as long as possible.

I’m thinking in particular of tefillin for soldiers. I had donated some money to the cause, but did not expect to get an invitation to join a delivery. When Josh Friedman (a tireless and effective campaigner for many years for a variety of worthwhile causes, who reminds me in his style of – lehavdil bein chaim l’chaim – the indefatigable Rav Meyer Schuster z”l) reached out to me with an offer to join a small group heading up to the Hermon, I needed little convincing. Especially with assurances that the experience would be life-changing.

And it was. It took three hours to make the trip from Yerushalayim (including an hour waiting for top brass to OK our entry to the closed military area) to distribute tefillin to chayalim who had previously signed up for them, committing to wrap them every day. We were met by R. Mendy Ofen, who has been distributing tefillin for decades, although out of the limelight. The volume of requests has forced him out of the shadows. He is a bundle of energy, exuberance and enormous achrayus for soldiers. (He told us that if we waited another two hours, he would take us to a BBQ he had organized for 800 soldiers. With a long trip back, we thought better of it, and left, especially because intelligence suggested that Hezbollah was preparing to rocket the base and we ran the risk of not being allowed to leave till the next morning.)

It’s impossible to describe the chizuk I got from watching seasoned soldiers (they run older here than in Gaza), some who volunteered and have essentially not left their post for four months, accept their tefillin and put them on, some for the first time in their lives. Most impressive, however, was the scene I observed which I am told is the rule, rather than the exception. As soldiers came over to receive the precious gift (along with a talis and quality embroidered bags), others came over and asked if they could get tefillin as well. Each soldier was told that he certainly could, if he would commit to wearing them regularly. Each soldier said yes, without flinching.

None of the above is really germane to the point I wish to make, although I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share! That point is that each and every chayal who takes on the mitzvah of tefillin becomes a de facto ambassador for mesorah in his community. Each will be a living testimonial to connecting with Torah, many in the most chiloni strongholds.

This is a tzedakah opportunity that will keep on giving for decades to come. And the time to give is now!


Some of the issues in this essay will be discussed by Rabbi Simi Lerner and me on an episode of “Two Rabbis, Three Opinions.” Watch for it on Spotify and the usual podcast haunts!

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130 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    By what mechanism can the various Chareidi communities unify for a proper response? Does anyone command enough respect to get things moving? Also, the manpower situation has to be made totally clear to the right people.

  2. lacosta says:

    the fact remains that in the vast majority of hareili society [ excluding the neturei/satmar/brisk wings at the rightist edge] , the outside israeli world is treif and dangerous. glorifying the IDF and/or the DL /hesder world even worse. The main reaction in the US Mishpacha world is to my eyes -rooting for our team to win, and wow what a great kiruv opportunity,maybe the last ever the convert the hilonim.

    i can easily see a novo ordo seclorum , where israel too is machria bein dam l’dam. between those who in Jesse Jackson’s analogy are committed vs those who are involved [ eggs and milk vs bacon ]. Forced draft would only turn the jails into the largest yeshiva in the world . so instead one envisions , two citizenship classes— one that earns government largesse and voting rights ; and one a permanent Toshav status . Presumably the non-haredi public will at least opt to cease being the largest Rosh Kollel and torah supporter on Earth…. and ultimately freed of those responsibilities , a working class would have to develop to support the learning class…..

    • moshe says:

      R. Adlerstein
      Big yiyasher koach. it is critical that the as much of the charedi public as possible undestand how severe this crisis is, not only for them, but for all klal yisroel.

      Lacosta- are suggesting that we deprive charedim of the vote? the supposedly anti-charedi supreme court would never allow that. What we need is a long term understanding among non charedi voters and politicians, that charedim cannot be allowed to join the government. they can then step by step put on the screws. First cutting all funding and removing recognition for “yeshivas” for guys who cant or dont want to learn full time.

      • lacosta says:

        i understand the difficulty of disenfranchising 15 % of the population. i am just thinking of what the rest of israeli society would consider a reasonable compromise. [ the hilonim that would use the cantonist model to draft haredi youth i will ignore. their motivation is not to get haredim to serve , it’s to de-Judaise the haredim ]. would it be enough that mr hiloni is no longer funding Rabbi X and his large brood ; or the fact that he can still sway the govt with his vote still be problematic.

        this is akin to the problem of the 20+ million illegals in the USA. is the rest of the populace satisfied to not pay their welfare? would they favor legalization with no possibility of citizenship? a similar dilemma

      • Reb Yid says:

        To lacosta:

        Chilonim are taxpaying Israelis who are sending their children to serve for multiple years in the IDF. Without them, haredim would be at far greater risk today in Israel.

        They simply want every citizen to do his or her part. The great disparity between their tremendous sacrifices and the bubble that haredim live in has never been more clear than over the past 4 and a half months.

      • mycroft says:

        If the requirement for all residents and citizens were to serve at 18 for certain amount of time either Chaeidim/Arabs would do what the government demands or be expelled. Remember US had a draft-people who didn’t want to serve either left the country or got prosecuted.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Punitive approaches and childish displays of anger won’t work and are wrong in any case. They need to buy in, if you truly want a unified nation and not Hatfields vs. McCoys.

      • moshe says:

        first of all these displays of anger are no “childish” they rooted in great pain and in response to the profound immorality of the charedi resusal to share in the suffering and sacrifice neceesarily for us all ot live here. They quite literally live off the suffering of others.
        but you are correct that it would be far better if we could get “buy in” from charedim. But the chareidim have made it clear that they have no intentions of “buying in” the root of the lack of unity is that central to the charedi identity is need to insulate and isolate themselves from the rest of Jewish society, rooted in a beleif intheir spritual superiotiry over the rest of society. Given that the current situation is completely unsustainable, what do you recommend? I am honestly asking, I ahve no idea what should be done.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Moshe, I specifically meant childish displays by commenters here. To me, the necessary step above all others is for Jews in all walks of life to strive to live by the Torah. The very idea of accepting a secular government in Israel as normal and not just as a transitional phase should be abhorrent. Secular refusal of Judaism is not a trivial matter. It’s the true root of chareidi separatism and I bet you know it.

  3. David Twersky says:

    Listen at 1:27:34 below to Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz’s latest Ohr Sameach Q&A session where the very question Rabbi Adlerstein eloquently discusses is also discussed honestly by another eloquent “American——>Israeli Rav” with influence and followers. Ken Yirbu! Halevai we should hear the same from IsraeliIsraeli Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva with Chareidi credentials.

    • joel says:

      Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz often says things that “might get me into trouble” but iirc always backs off to deferring to the gedolim (as in his not wearing tcheilet) bsorot tovot

      • Shades of Gray says:


        My sense is that R. Breitowitz, besides pragmatically watching his back, is careful because his audience is rather diverse. An excerpt from an interview he gave with R. David Bashevkin a year ago sheds light on some of the thinking of his Q&A (Minutes 28-29, per transcript):

        “…Maybe it’s my nature as a teacher that I like to be more inclusive of different opinions in Judaism. I think it’s a good thing, I think it’s an aspect of shivim panim ltorah to connect it to the infinity of Torah, the notion that there can be paradoxes and contradictions, you’re not always a chisaron but it’s part of the richness of a reality that encompasses multiple conflicting perspectives that I’m sure you know from your limud of Rav Tzadok.

        I think about this and the nature of the podcast has changed. When I was just doing a question and answer for a podcast, I was talking to twenty people in a room that I knew, and now I’m speaking to more people. And maybe that does create a need for a different orientation, maybe I can’t be as open as when I was in an audience of familiar people that could ask for follow-ups and everything else. So, something I am debating is whether I am being too open, am I talking too much, or am I introducing dangerous ideas. One thing I can tell you is I’m not a professional agitator, I am not agenda-driven…”

        If R. Breitowitz would ask me, I would say the more openness the better(within limits), but that’s just me 🙂

    • Shades of Gray says:

      Thanks for the link to Rabbi Breitowitz’s Q&A.

      He also discusses in this context the work issue and Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch’s speech(Minute 1:32:00), a subject of a previous CC post.

      R. Breitowitz concludes with a reference to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’ ” (MInute 1:33:00).

  4. Happy says:

    The rest of the population is in deep pain because chareidim are not serving. Some may even say that this is causing them more distress than the war itself. Going with your marriage analogy, when the partner is in pain, most times, it is not a good idea to offer a solution then and there. Especially in this case, when there is no obvious solution. The best thing to do is sympathize with their pain. Although on a logical level, we believe our path is 100% correct, we cannot ignore the distress it causes other people. We must acknowledge it fully, even as we stand firmly by our commitments. Empathy over the temptation of immediate (and probably unviable) solutions.

    • Excellent point. We have to consider the possibility, however, that there may not be the luxury available to wait until some of the pain subsides. That pain is cresting, and the pronouncements of the AG and the Supreme Court can’t be dismissed. They may not wait. Or, as I referred to it, the day after may already be upon us. If that turns out to be true, it will be interesting to see if charedi leaderships opts to offer some compromise, or to hold firm and risk facing a law that could be even less acceptable to them

    • joel says:

      empathy can ring hollow if one knows that there are things that can be done but the empathizer chooses not to do them. In this case there is an “obvious” solution (defined as a perceived overlap of interests) to the rest of the community . Bsorot Tovot

      • Happy says:

        Reb Joel, what obvious solution do you have in mind? That the Palestinians and Arabs decide to make peace and Israel doesn’t need such a strong army? I gather that you probably don’t mean that, but rather that the chareidim should forfeit their religious beliefs and send their sons to the army. In that case, I regret to disappoint you, that this solution is no more obvious, practical, or viable than making peace with the Palestinians. For chareidim, having their sons in yeshiva from the ages of 18 through mid-20s is absolutely vital to their religion, at least to the same extent that yishuv ha’aretz is vital to Religious Zionists. We will sooner make peace with the Palestinians a thousand times than get chareidim to give that up. So what’s left? What’s left is empathy with the pain of others, and then working within chareidi beliefs to see what more they can contribute. But no, unfortunately there is no obvious solution. Which is why we need to redouble our efforts to emphasize and provide moral support.

      • joel says:

        I gather that you probably don’t mean that, but rather that the chareidim should forfeit their religious beliefs and send their sons to the army.
        No, that the chareidim participate in some real problem solving concerning core values and obligations to am yisrael to arrive at a mutually agreed upon approach
        bsorot tovot

      • Happy says:

        Reb Joel, if your point is just to assert that chareidim are wrong and are not fulfilling their core obligations to Klal Yisrael, do you really expect chareidim to agree? Of course chareidim would just turn around and claim that non-chareidim are wrong and are not fulfilling their obligations to Klal Yisrael. That is no way to have a productive conversation.
        If you mean that chareidim and non-chareidim should sit down at the table and figure out some mutually accepted values, and work on some sort of compromise if possible, that would be wonderful! But unfortunately, there is no obvious solution on the horizon, at least as far as I can see. But we can daven, and emphasize with our brothers’ and sisters’ pain, and Hashem will send a yeshuah.

      • joel says:

        If you mean that chareidim and non-chareidim should sit down at the table and figure out some mutually accepted values, and work on some sort of compromise if possible, that would be wonderful! But unfortunately, there is no obvious solution on the horizon, at least as far as I can see. But we can daven, and emphasize with our brothers’ and sisters’ pain, and Hashem will send a yeshuah.
        It’s often the case that neither side can see the “obvious” until the sit down with the other side and try to work through the issues. It may be there is no compromise and then each party will have to decide on what their best alternative is to a negotiated solution. I suppose one might feel that no effort at a “family” compromise is worthwhile and that HKBH will be happy with prayer for the other’s pain without an effort to relieve it.
        bsorot tovot

      • Happy says:

        Reb Joel, BH, CrossCurrents is a good example of us sitting down at the table together on a small scale! Nothing like some civil and calm dialogue to break barriers. And in terms of practical suggestions, we already have some here. For example, see Reb Shnitzelbigot’s comment below.
        I think one of the hallmarks of a good compromise is that it make both sides feel equally uncomfortable, and Reb Shnitzelbigot’s suggestion definitely accomplishes that!

    • moshe says:

      The marriage analogy is not that “the partner is in pain.” it is that one partner is inflicting pain on the other by their absolute refusal to fulfill their most minimal obligations in the marriage, not only as defined by the other partner, but as defined by all normative understanding of marriage. fI the partner shows no interest in changing nor even acknowledging the problem, ultimately, the normative response, even, or perhaps especially in the frum community is to begin divorce proceedings. The problem is, that is not an option here.

      • Happy says:

        Reb Moshe, Reb Joel,. I understand how you feel 100%. Obviously I disagree, but that shouldn’t stop me from sharing in your pain. The soldiers and their families are going through a terrible tribulation for the sake of Israel. Hundreds have paid the ultimate price. Thousands have been injured. Many thousands have not seen their family for months on end. May Hashem give you the strength to continue, and may it be His will that this war ends speedily.

    • Nachum says:

      “Although on a logical level, we believe our path is 100% correct, we cannot ignore the distress it causes other people.”

      Just to clarify, what you mean is, “We [which, of course, is not “we”, this being a website that is open to anyone] believe that it is logical that about 10% of the population, owing entirely to the community into which they were born, should not have the same obligations as their fellow citizens and Jews, but nebach some other Israelis and Jews are hurting so much they can’t appreciate that logic, so let’s keep it quiet for now”?

      I would be interested in knowing the logic you posit exists.

      • Happy says:

        Reb Nachum, believe me, I understand your perspective, and wish and hope there is something we can do about this problem! I only wish the best upon you and all our Jewish brothers and sisters. May Hashem bless us all with safety, health, and happiness.

    • mb says:

      “Although on a logical level, we believe our path is 100% correct, we cannot ignore the distress it causes other people. We must acknowledge it fully, even as we stand firmly by our commitments. ”
      Indeed, and if it is causing distress to millions of our brothers and sisters, by definition,we cannot be 100% correct.

      • Happy says:

        Reb mb, of course you are right that I was exaggerating when I said 100% correct. Halevai we should be 70% correct! The point is we feel we are correct in our path. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the suffering of our brothers and sisters, may Hashem bless them and us all with health and safety.

  5. nt says:

    Thanks for the link to donate to the Tefillin effort. One moving experience was seeing my 80-year old cousin, who is a lifelong old-school anti-religious Zionist, putting on Tefillin to be a merit for the soldiers.

    As for the chareidi issue, I don’t have the solution, except to say that Torah study helps with everything, including not being drafted. Maybe we need more quantity, but maybe we also need more quality. That is, more people studying with the true intent to gain mastery over large areas of Torah, instead of just going with the flow.

  6. ben dov says:

    Although this article speaks of “we charedim” I’m not sure who is being addressed. The charedi mainstream and the charedi gedolim are, I believe, not likely to buy into this. If the author hopes to create a charedi dissident subgroup, who would be its leaders? What would be the relationship of such leaders to the recognized charedi gedolim?

    • I don’t hope to create any new group. It has already been created. It’s alive and kicking. In the charedi world, the group is called “modernim,” meaning Anglos who didn’t burn all their Anglo practices and values. You know – people who have computers and leave comments on blogs. People who work. People who are fully embracing of the chashivus of learning, dikduk b’mitzvos, and overall sense of avodas Hashem that is part of the charedi lifestyle, and very uncomfortable with many of the add-ons.

      • moshe says:

        “You know – people who have computers and leave comments on blogs. People who work. People who are fully embracing of the chashivus of learning, dikduk b’mitzvos, and overall sense of avodas Hashem that is part of the charedi lifestyle, and very uncomfortable with many of the add-ons.”

        All of these values are part of a Torah “lifestyle”. They are by no means exclusively charedi. Overwhelmingly people who reject the “add ons,” do not see working as in any way bedieved, and embrace the fundamental ethical concerns you raise, dont identify as charedi. What distinguishes, this population that you describe from non-charedim? In my experience this “non-charedi/charedi” population deeply identfies as charedi even as they personally reject particular elements in their own daily lives, often rationalizing this behavior in various ways. such people generally have little interest in makign radical breaks. They want to fit in. Those that would be willing to shift their position on going to the army and the like, are very small group. In many cases such people quickly find themselves forced out the charedi community.

      • Possibly. Don’t write off the ability of these “modernim,” as they are now called, to create their own identity. If they do, my guess is that they will still see themselves more closely allied to charedi values, if only because the retention rate of the two existing systems – charedi and DL – is so skewed in favor of charedim.

      • Ben Bradley says:

        There’s no small number of non-anglo ‘modernim’ too, at least there seem to be in parts of the various ramot of beit shemesh. I don’t know how their group dynamics work vis a vis attitiudes to giyus but suspect would be positve if the framework was right.
        My sense is that a quiet push to create a charedi hesder yeshiva -type framework would be the best way to give a healthy structure for charedi draftees . It would allow for the right kind of hashkafic messaging which the boys would need to remain part of charedi society after their service while still positively valuing their service. Probably with a different nomenclature to distinguish it from the DL hesder system. Because labels and associations seem to be important. But it would need be to be quiet to avoid pushback from the establishment and it would need roshei yeshiva sufficiently bold and resistant to pressure from their right. No small demand but that is probably the need of the time.

      • ben dov says:

        An important comment, but my questions remain unanswered.

      • Nachum says:

        Alive and kicking is not quite a phrase I’d use. There simply aren’t that many Anglos in Israel, period, in any community, and certainly not in the charedi one. (Just take into account, for starters, that over half of Israelis aren’t even Ashkenazim, and that you’ve got over a million descended from recent Russian arrivals, and throw in all the sabra secular and religious Ashkenazim, and the old-line charedim, and…there’s not much left.) Add to that that the native charedi community is likely even more resistant to any- and especially any Anglo- outside ideas or persons, and that lots of Anglo charedi olim simply assimilate in, and there’s a big problem with your proposition.

      • Not necessarly. Assume that at the moment there are 250,000 Anglos here. At least half of them are Orthodox, following the trend that has held for many, many years. Within that Orthodox cohort, it is also safe to assume that half are charedim. Now, many of those charedim have made peace with the mainstream charedi world, so leave them out of the picture. That still leaves tens of thousand of Anglo charedim, concentrated in a small number of locales, especially in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Yerushalayim. They certainly have a more than negligible impact on the ballot box. Degel Hatorah in particular seems to be in panic mode in this most recent municipal election, trying to convince Anglos not to vote their conscience, which would not necessarily allign with party discipline

  7. william gewirtz says:

    I think it is too early to see how things in Israel will play out, but I concur with your thoughtful article.

    Nonetheless, some issues deserve special attention.

    First, I do not know how widespread this is but among American olim and their families, many remain American citizens, receive the almost full benefits of a citizen as a permanent resident of the State of Israel, and thereby avoid any possibility of their children having to serve in the IDF or perform any form of national service. In my mind, this ought to be terminated immediately.

    Second, the Dati Leumi community has made a disproportionate sacrifice to the war effort; that reality should give pause to many Hareidim who avoid any form of national service.

    Third, the reports of various Hareidi efforts in support of the IDF, including those enlisting, are but a drop in the bucket; it will have minimal impact on what follows.

    Fourth, the religious awakening among the non-religious population, perhaps also overstated, undercuts Hareidi assertions about the general population.

    Fifth, Haredi rhetoric about their contributions by learning Torah sounds obscene in the face of a mounting death toll among IDF soldiers.

    Sixth, the financial corruption and enrollment overstatements currently overlooked/ tolerated, will not survive what is likely to transpire in the next government.

    Beyond that, Hareidim are unlikely to agree on a way forward; this will lead to an altogether unpredictable situation.

    • lacosta says:

      >>>>Second, the Dati Leumi community has made a disproportionate sacrifice to the war effort; that reality should give pause to many Hareidim who avoid any form of national service.

      —- i would think the mainstream haredi response would be ”foolish OTD frierim , paying a price in blood and money for nothing and despised by both extremes….”

      • william gewirtz says:

        That is a terrible indictment of the Hareidi world that I doubt is true of hardly any Hareidim.

  8. MK says:

    I think it is important to stress that these “Anglo Modernim” know that the notion that all are ideally meant to spend their entire lives learning full time, as was recently said in the “progressive statement” , is contrary to the hashkafa of the American Gedolei Yisrael who they revere.
    Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky as well as Rav Hutner, were very outspoken about it.
    It was not a concession to “America”. It was their fundamental Torah hashkafa.
    Anyone who knew Rav Hutner, or even had one conversation with him, knows that he would bristle at the notion that a working person could not be a Ben Torah in the full sense of the word.


  9. Shades of Gray says:

    “it would appear that the situation is very different today than it was at any time in the history of the State”

    A relative of mine remembers in 1969 purchasing Tefilin in Israel from a sofer who was a Gerer Chasid, who was wearing his distinctive socks. The sofer told him, “you came just in time because ich darf gein tzu milatair[I need to go to reserve duty].”

    This anecdote illustrates that there are two different issues: drafting charedim and drafting full time yeshiva students, as R. Yitzchak Breitowitz points out in the Ohr Sameach Q&A session(Minute 1:30:00) linked above by David Twersky. It also took place in 1969 when the exemption of yeshiva students was still the approximately 400 per year originally agreed upon by Ben Gurion(when Likud Party won its landmark victory in 1977, the coalition agreement included a stipulation to eliminate the ceiling of yeshiva student exemptions).

    During World War II, women in America, Britain and elsewhere played important roles both at home and in uniform. The motto was to free a man up to fight. Here too, in what might be seen as a more modest goal of “sharing the burden” on the home front, the IDF wants to recruit local charedim to protect their own communities. See link:

  10. Maureen says:

    R Adlerstein – I am new to all of this… do you have an article explaining why it is that haredim do not actually serve in the IDF…. I cannot find such a piece on your page… is there a link? Like do they have any of their own answers? Do they have leadership? Are their leaders reliable/good people? Or are their leaders far less reliable that than the Israeli mainstream… I had always assumed that their leaders are the “holy men” of the Jews, but now I’m starting to rethink that bc they are so obviously misguided about the basics of being a feeling Jew.
    After researching some of your other articles, I found that your children ascribe to haredi educational system, and that gets my head spinning, what exactly are the virtues of this? Even for a religious isnt it so obviously better to wear both hats and be dati leumi?? I’d love an article here defending (or just plain understanding) their POV. Thanks!

    • Can any of our readers help Maureen with this?

    • Happy says:

      Hi Maureen, there is a lot of good material on this. The main answer in summary is that chareidim feel that army service would be highly detrimental to their chinuch system, and their chinuch system is the most important thing in their lives. As in, they would prefer to leave Israel if staying would mean sacrificing their chinuch system. See what I wrote about the importance of chareidi chinuch from the chareidi perspective here
      There are also responses to the halachic objections about milchemes mitzvah, and the consideration that Yeshiva students are contributing a great deal through their Torah study (which both chareidim and Datiim agree with, although Datiim don’t agree it exempts one from serving), but these are secondary to the primary reason. None of this means that there is no room from compromise, or that their lack of service can be validly perceived from a certain perspective as burdening others. And of course none of this exempts chareidim from expressing hakaras hatov, which they have the same obligation as everybody else.

    • Shades of Gray says:


      Here are links to resources regarding haredim and the army, as well as representation of the haredi community in general:

      1 – R. Alfred  Cohen, editor of  Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, discusses both sides of the army issue in “On Yeshiva Men Serving In The Army”( Spring 1992):

      2 – From the Daati Leumi perspective, R.  Aharon Lichtenstein’s “The Ideology of Hesder”(Tradition,  Fall 1981). Tradition has also published R. Shelomo Yosef Zevin’s monograph(1948)against exempting yeshiva men from the draft:

      3 – Jonathan Rosenblum represents the haredi position well in his articles written for both religious and secular readers which you can search for on his “Jewish Media Resources” website. See, for example, his 1998 Jerusalem Post article for an important  direct  quote from  R. Schach, a then-leader of the Israeli haredi community:

       “For haredi boys who cannot or do not wish to learn full-time in yeshiva, a suitable framework must be found within the army or national service. And those who have completed their years of full-time learning should do basic training and reserve duty like everyone else.” (So Rabbi Eliezer Schach explicitly told me.)”

      4 – Tzarich Iyun, a  new Charedi publication has a number of articles on the army and other topics facing Charedi society in Israel which you can search for on their website. It describes itself as  “prepared to take on difficult and complex questions concerning policy, ideology, and sociology that are yet to receive adequate attention”:

      5 – In 2013, the army  issue came up again  in connection with the Yair Lapid government. See from Cross Currents, R. Aharon Feldman’s talk given at the Agudath Israel of Baltimore and to a Toronto audience, R. Adlerstein’s comments on Mishpacha’s  “sharing the burden” issue; also a later article by  R. Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel’s media liaison, titled  “Merits, Not Munitions”(2015) on the classic Charedi response, and a link to his website:

      6 –   Eli Spitzer, an articulate and forward-thinking headmaster of a  hasidic boys’ school in London has articles representing haredim, being self-critical when necessary,  on Mosaic as well as on his own website. He is wide-read and self-taught, having  learned English by arguing with late-night talk-show radio hosts at 2:00 AM:

      7 – Agudah(Know Us) and Pinter Trust in UK, websites of outreach to media and public:

      8 – Academic research websites that I find to be friendly to the haredi community, those of the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs(Israel), Haredi Research Group(Prof. David Myers of UCLA), Nishma Research, and Institute for Jewish Policy Research in UK:

    • Shades of Gray says:


      Another excellent website and organization discussing haredim as well as Orthodox Jews and Judaism in general is  “Jew in the City” founded by Allison Josephs. 

      The right side of the first link below describes its three branches:  Tikun, Makom and Keter, the last of which reframes and rebrands Orthodox Jews and Judaism with original positive content.  They recently added a  Hollywood Bureau, described as the first and only Jewish Hollywood Bureau for Media Outreach and Advocacy. See links:

    • Nachum says:

      It doesn’t have to be that complicated:

      1. Military service is hard and dangerous. Absent some motivating factor, like patriotism- what would be called “Zionism” in Israel- people would prefer not to do it. If given an out, they’ll take it.

      2. The charedi world has still not completely made its peace (or made its peace at all) with the idea of Zionism and the State of Israel. That removes the motivating factor above, and adds motivation *not* to serve.

      There are other factors as well, some of them honest, some not, but I think those are big ones.

      • mycroft says:

        . Military service is hard and dangerous. Absent some motivating factor, like patriotism- what would be called “Zionism” in Israel- people would prefer not to do it. If given an out, they’ll take it.

        Why BTW over the decades I’ve seen far more religious women move /stay in Israel than men when parents make Aliyah when their children are teenagers.

  11. Maureen says:

    You see – its just really hard for me to believe that there are not two sides to this story. And I simply have no access to their side. Wondering if you do?

  12. Shimon Lyons says:

    As a charedi parent, though thankfully of sons too young for it to be relevant yet, I am very torn on this issue. And from conversations I have had with fellow charedim, I don’t think I’m alone in this way of thinking.

    On the one hand – of course you’re right. I feel very bad about it! I feel it’s wrong that others are dying for us and going through what they’re going through, and we are not. I think all charedim need to start with this feeling, and I think many many do, many more than is being represented in the media.

    When it comes to the practice, however, there is a huge elephant in the room. We need to be sure that if we send our sons to the army, they will still be charedi when they come back. Yes, I consider this more important than the imperative to serve. This is what we are serving for – a Jewish state, not a state of the Jews. If we can be sure that this will be the case, I believe the whole issue will resolve itself.

    Unfortunately – and this is where the dilemma comes in – I don’t think we’re there yet. And this is too important to rely on vague promises and ‘it’ll be ok’. Among the DL, the OTD rate among army recruits is far too high for me to be comfortable taking that kind of risk. It might even be worse among charedi recruits due to their sudden exposure to a culture previously unknown to them. On top of this, there is definitely an element in Israeli society and especially in the upper ranks of the military that has never given up on the ‘melting pot’ idea of the army – even after October 7 – and would like nothing more than to use the army to de-chareidize our next generation. It’s simply too dangerous to risk our entire next generation with these elements still around. Perhaps if Yoav Gallant would make a big speech, acknowledging that in the past the drive to recruit charedim really wasn’t so pure, sincerely apologizing, and promising a new start – that would help set the train in the right direction. Until then – the risk is too great.

    But, yes, I do feel bad! I wish there was a solution! But the trust needs to be built. And even though we’re in a war now, the spiritual war is no less important. Hence, right now, I think the torn feeling in my heart is the correct response, and waiting and hoping for a better set of circumstances for the ‘lemaaseh’.

    • DavidF says:

      Shimon nailed it and it’s a shame that out of 35 comments, his is the only one representing this viewpoint.

      Charedim have never shirked their duties. They push themselves harder and sacrifice far more than any of their Jewish, even religious counterparts. The average MO family feature 2-4 children, the average secular Israeli family is 1-3. The average Charedi family features 7-10 and their income levels are vastly lower. They don’t watch tv or sit on the internet for hours each day taking in sitcoms, news, and tiktok. Their lives are generally incomparably more taxing and stressful than the broader population. Their unwillingness to serve in the IDF is not and has never been about shirking their duties.

      It is, first and foremost, about their unwillingness to compromise on their lifestyle and the sacrifices it demands of them. They know darn well that by refusing to serve in the IDF, they’ll never be able to work legally and will be forever deprived of the ability to earn a proper living, but they do it anyhow. Why? Because they don’t want to serve in an army that will not respect their values in the manner in which is important TO THEM.

      Does the IDF have kosher kitchens? Yes. But not at the standard that a Charedi is willing to settle for. They also need a much greater separation of the sexes – something the IDF will never agree to.

      These, and similar issues, are what are at the crux of the issue. Until the IDF is ready to accommodate them at this level, nothing will make them serve.

      They feel plenty of pain over their inability to participate in the national defense. I know this well. I’ve spoken to dozens of them over the years and have many nephews and other relatives in Israel. They would love to have a meaningful way to do so so long as their values are not trampled. I recognize that it’s hard for many of the commenters here to appreciate this because their values are somewhat different, but that’s how it’s been and will always be for the true Charedim. Their much tougher than you folks give them credit for and they won’t be moved by the Bagatz or anyone’s hurt feelings. They’ve sacrificed too much for their way of life and are prepared to sacrifice further if need be.

      If the IDF is serious about drafting Charedim, they know what it’ll take. The choice is theirs to make. I hope and pray that they choose wisely so that everyone can participate in a meaningful way.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Shimon nailed it and it’s a shame that out of 35 comments, his is the only one representing this viewpoint.”

        See my links above, in response to Maureen, to R. Alfred Cohen’s journal article and to Jonathan Rosenblum’s Jerusalem Post article(“After guarding their children’s souls like a Ming vase for 18 years, haredi parents cannot be expected to expose them at the most vulnerable stage…”)

        “Until the IDF is ready to accommodate them at this level, nothing will make them serve….If the IDF is serious about drafting Charedim, they know what it’ll take.”

        According to Rav Aharon Feldman, accommodation would seem to be virtually impossible. See excerpt below from his addresses in 2013 in connection with the Yair Lapid government:

        “You don’t need to be a general to understand that a general cannot issue a command to march tomorrow, call up the commander of the Charedi unit, and have the other say “wait a minute, tomorrow is Sukkos, I have to ask my Rav if we’re allowed to march.” You can’t run an Army in that fashion, and the Army itself says so. Benny Gantz, Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, told Shas Knesset member Nissim Zeev that it is simply not practical to have large numbers of charedi-only units. An Army must be integrated, and at the most they could handle one more battalion like Nachal Charedi.”

        Be that as it may, and notwithstanding the spiritual dangers posed by being in any army and of any religious attrition suffered by the Daati Leumi community as R. Feldman goes on to quote from R. Eliezer Melamed, in the current war, soldiers have indeed asked sh’eilos. As Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in Mishpacha:

        “On a recent segment of the Halacha Headlines radio show, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, rav of Gush Etzion, rosh yeshivah of Machon Lev, and the author of numerous halachic seforim, used the sh’eilos asked of him by soldiers in combat to convey his own awe at the quality of those serving in the IDF…

        These soldiers were not just religious, but serious lomdei Torah.”

      • Moshe says:

        First of all the the only legitamte argument in that chareidim have for avoiding the army is that they are learnign torah full time. once you admit that your abusing that rule because you are scared ofsendignyour kids to the army, you have lost all moral, halakhic and polical credibility. This is why the entire country is so furious at the charedi world. If all the guys who got exemptions were actually learning three full sedarim a day 6.5 days a week. the problem would be much less from all perspectives. but we know that much of the yeshiva exemption is a fraud, abuse by parents like you who are afriad to send their kids to the army, whether or not they are learning. This is biggist chillul hashem. You are willing to be mechallel shem shamayim because you are afriad of risking your kids frumkeit?
        DL parents really have no tollerance for charedim saying their are worried that their kids will not come back chareidu. Most of us are worried that our kids wont come back at all! You are saying your a willing to let some elses kid die, but you wont risk your kid not being chareidi.

        The idea that charedi parents concern that their kids remain “charedi” rather than “frum” is very disturbing. As many people have noted that charedims number one value is being charedi, not frum. Are you really saying that if we could guarantee that your kid will comeout of the army shomer mitzvos but not charedi, this would still be an unacceptable risk?

        If you see going to the army as a funadmental necessaity of living him and as a moral and halakhic obligation, then you need to ballance that obligation against other values and priorities. If you see it just as an option, becaue the charedi community has normalized the abuse of the yeshiva exmeption, then you will have no reason to comprise and do any thing that you see as bedieved. The army is by definition a bideved situaiton. but we have no choice. DL poskim will tell soldiers to rely on all sort sof kulass they would never endorse for others. IF charedim cant accept that mesirus nefesh for klal yisrael might also mean not holding your super machmir standards, and yes, taking some risks how frum your kids will be. Chilonim are willing to risk their kids lives going to combat units, becaue they understand the sacrifces we need to make to live in Eretz Yisrale are very great. how do expect them to take you seriously when you say you wont risk you kids in a non combat job. because you afraid that they will choose a different path than your own?

        What are “charedi values” how are they different from the values of chardalnickim who all sent their kids to the army? What values are being “trampled”? Charedi values are meant to make it very difficult to function out side of charedi society. their ideology is one of seperatism. But that is percisely the problem. No Jew has a right to seperate himself from klal yisrael to a degree that they do not share in the yissurin and sacrifice of the kala, espcially when they equally benefit from that suddering and sacrifce. Of course charedim need to fundamentaly change their seperatist ideololgy rooted in the arrogant beleif that they alone represent “torah true judaism” while every one slesis “an empty wagon.” Charedi values in this sense are direct threat ot the survival of klal yisrale and eretz yisrael.
        The army can set up charedi units. The kashrus in the army is actually at a pretty high level, they are moving to have all the meat be mehadrin/ but the army cant be compelled to be worried about every chumra a person might have or his prefences in hashagacha. They can limit interactions with women, but it is unreasonable to demand total seperation of the sexes.
        yes there are risks in sending your kid to the army. If charedi world were interested in being part of kala yisrael, they could set up educationals tructures that would greatly reduce those risks. But ultimitaly. the are thousand of frum parents out there who at this point, dont really care if their boys come home not frum. they just want them not to come home in a coffin.

        The choice is not the IDF’s to make. The choice is yours to make. TheIDF owes you nothing. You owe the IDF for keeping you alive in Erez Yisrael. The question are you willing to go to war against the rest of kalal yisrael in order ot avoid going to war against our enemies. Or do you want fullfil your fundamental obligations to kala yisrael? once you have decided that you are JEws first and charedim second and that you do not have anymore choice than anyone else about going to thearmy, then the charedi community cans tart working good fiath with the IDF to help insure that charedi soldiers face minimal compromises and spiritual risks. but risks there will alsways be.

        Please understand that as a person who veiws them selves only as charedi and as a parent, you concerns make sense. But if you view yourself first and formost as Jew committed to Torah, Klal yisrale and Eretz Yisrael, and being chardei is secodnary to these core torah values, then the descision not to send makes no sense at all,

      • Sarah Elias says:

        @Moshe, I’m not sure who gets to decide what the only legitimate reason for not serving in the army is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the man in the street.

        On another note, if someone tells you his reasons for doing something with which you disagree, telling him that his reasons are not legitimate is not likely to make him suddenly agree with you and capitulate to your demands. If someone says that his children’s neshamos are a more important value to him than army service, telling him that he should just shut up and accept his children living for years on a bedieved level because that accords better with your value system is not likely to get him to change his mind.

      • Happy says:

        Reb Moshe, it is unfortunately comments and attitudes like these that put more barriers in the way to chareidim serving, not less.
        You ask “What are “charedi values” how are they different from the values of chardalnickim who all sent their kids to the army?” Good question.
        But then you say “but ultimitaly. the are thousand of frum parents out there who at this point, dont really care if their boys come home not frum. they just want them not to come home in a coffin.” – This is one compelling answer. Chareidi parent have very different values from these parents. Chareidi parents care as much that their boys come home frum as they come home alive. The diametrically opposite attitude you express here. I couldn’t think of a better way to bring out the difference between chareidi and non-chareidi values.
        ” once you have decided that you are JEws first and charedim second and that you do not have anymore choice than anyone else about going to thearmy”- Chareidim don’t view their chareidism as something in addition to Judaism, they view it as the way to keep Judaism alive. They look with horror upon the Modern Orthodox approaches. Whether they are correct or not, please don’t give them more reasons to avoid army service by telling them they have to give up on their values to join the army.
        “The choice is not the IDF’s to make. The choice is yours to make. TheIDF owes you nothing.”
        Again, you are talking as if you have the ability to get chareidim to serve by force, with no concessions. The IDF owes them nothing, etc. This is not the case. Chareidim are still in the position of power. If the charedi Gedolim tell bochurim to go to jail rather than serve, they will. If chareidi Gedolim tell bochurim to leave to chu”l rather than serve, they will. This is the reality. Therefore, your my-way-or-the-highway approach-“The IDF owes you nothing”- will get us nowhere.

    • David says:

      I appreciate this Shimon – your main argument is that the reason haredim dont go to the army is a risk issue? What are the stats for a good strong DL boy to go OTD in the army? Surely this is something that the torah leaders should communicate to government officials, meaning actually the ideal is very much to go serve, just there are some technical issues – is this something that cannot be worked out one way or another? It doesn’t feel like we have hit the true answer.
      There is a huge voice here criticizing the haredi not going to the army, But I think Maureen has a keen question. Can ANYONE voice an academic counter-argument for the haredi? I also tried to find the link here in cross-currents, surely this has been addressed? IS there a counter-argument or are all their torah leaders just plain wrong, naive, callous, or fear the backlash of voicing their honest opinion?
      I think until we have an answer, this debate has little value. We cannot properly represent the “other side”.
      And BTW someone wrote below “As a Psychologist, I would say that today’s Chareidi leaders are of far lesser stature that those of yesteryear.” This is the oldest lie on the book and really sad to see it written.

      • mycroft says:

        Again, you are talking as if you have the ability to get chareidim to serve by force, with no concessions. The IDF owes them nothing, etc. This is not the case. Chareidim are still in the position of power. If the charedi Gedolim tell bochurim to go to jail rather than serve, they will. If chareidi Gedolim tell bochurim to leave to chu”l rather than serve, they will. This is the reality

        No government can tolerate if it wants the country to exist to have open rebellion against its laws by any group of its citizens-Chareidim have as much an obligation as Arabs as anyone else to obey the laws of the government-don’t like the laws migrate to a better country.

      • Josh Sperling says:

        See einayim lemishpat bava basra daf 7 or 9 (cant remember) for a full halachic shut regarding the ptur of bnei yeshiva from army service in israel. (written by the mashgiach of mercaz harav BTW!)

    • joel says:

      Perhaps if Yoav Gallant would make a big speech, acknowledging that in the past the drive to recruit charedim really wasn’t so pure, sincerely apologizing, and promising a new start – that would help set the train in the right direction. Until then – the risk is too great.
      What would the reaction be to ” Perhaps if the Gadol Hador would make a big speech, acknowledging that in the past the drive to exempt all charedim really wasn’t so pure, sincerely apologizing, and promising a new start – that would help set the train in the right direction. ”


      “If we can be sure that this will be the case, I believe the whole issue will resolve itself.”

      Reminds me of
      טו וְשָׂרַי בְּיִשָּׂשכָר, עִם-דְּבֹרָה, {ס} וְיִשָּׂשכָר {ר} כֵּן בָּרָק, בָּעֵמֶק שֻׁלַּח בְּרַגְלָיו; {ס} בִּפְלַגּוֹת רְאוּבֵן, גְּדֹלִים חִקְקֵי- {ר} לֵב. {ס} 15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; as was Issachar, so was Barak; into the valley they rushed forth at his feet. Among the divisions of Reuben there were great resolves of heart.

      Sometimes you need to take a risk in life for the greater good. Sitting back and fretting without trying to find a solution may not be the ratzon hashem

      Bsorot tovot

    • Shalhevet says:

      Thank you for making this important point.
      I believe this is the #1 reason Chareidim don’t want their sons in the army, for those who are not really learning full time.
      I’m am a bit confused, though. Do we not TRULY believe that Torah learning is the ultimate zechus that keeps our nation alive? That wins wars? Even if others don’t understand this?
      Why don’t we trust that the Gedolei haTorah know what you and I know, and still hold the way they do?
      Why do we feel the need to excuse ourselves?

    • shmuel says:

      Shimon you are right to be concerned about the effect that sending sons to the army in its current form would have on their staying charedi.
      But even if the army adapts itself fully to the way of life of charedi soldiers, the gedolim will still oppose it because for them giving value to anything which is not Torah is unacceptable. For them serving in the army is not a Torah value.

      • DavidF says:

        True for some, and untrue for others.

        There are plenty of segments of the population that do not believe in the “Torah at all costs” model. The chassidishe population has never adopted kollel as a lifestyle in Israel or in the US. There are plenty of segments of the Charedi population to work with where this would not pose an issue.

      • Sarah Elias says:

        It is possible for someone to serve in the army without seeing any value of import in it, and I believe that if it came down to it and the other conditions were fulfilled, chareid non-learners would serve without seeing any great value in it other than not landing in jail for not serving. I don’t believe that would be a main reason for gedolims’ objection to service.

    • Ben Bradley says:

      I’m sure you’ve stated common sentiments. And the fear of putting our young adults at risk of going OTD is a big issue for parents. So, just to address this and the comments about the rate of OTD amongst DL army recruits, the rate in that group is high. But the rate of OTD amongst graduates of hesder programs is very low indeed. Meaning that amongst who choose to put themselves through a 5 year program including 3.5 years of yeshiva, and serving together with their yeshiva buddies, very few decline spiritually afterwards. If there was a comparable program for charedi boys, where returning to yeshiva for at least a couple of years after the army was part of the arrangement, I think that would solve most of the those concerns. The framework already exists, it just needs to be expanded and adapted somewhat.

      • mycroft says:

        Hesder was a compromise that meant that some DL Yeshivot showed fealty to the state while serving minimal terms. Essentially over 5 years Hesder students serve about half the time in IDF while having in total a longer commitment. Has been challenged for its effectiveness by some generals who’ve been told to sgut up. Biggest opponent actually was a general who had learned at Gusg with Rav Amital. No one questions the dedication of Hesder students-it is the off and on effectiveness.Political establishment has been happy shows Hesder students are in favor of the state

  13. Chana Siegel says:

    Thank you once again for your unsparing honesty.

  14. Dr. E says:

    It’s interesting that all of a sudden Chareidim have an open line of communication with the Israeli military and have their finger on the pulse of the IDF’s manpower situation. I guess even though they refuse to allow their followers to serve as soldiers, they are sought-after strategic staffing consultants. But, as we all know, the truth is that they are misinformed. I know first-hand that there are a number of Miluimnikim who have traveled from Chutz L’Aretz, many to voluntarily serve. Plus, while the Chareidi leadership are happy to quote that females serving in the IDF is “yaharog v’al yaavor”, they are more than happy to let them serve and also fill the void left from their refusal to draft. I guess that their refusal to serve and let the Chayalot serve is somehow not “m’sayeah l’dvar aveira”. So, that must be on yemem’s cheshbon and somehow OK.

    As you point out with the Rabbi Ruderman reference, there has been a shift in the Chareidi world, specifically among the Roshei Yeshiva. Kana’us is in vogue and being “mevatel” any out-group seems quite similar to the divisive political climate in the U.S. for which one particular candidate has become famous. So, “kinas sofrim tarbeh chochma”. Some of the views espoused about the Medina and the IDF today fill the void left after the NK went completely off the reservation when it became openly pro-Iran. As a Psychologist, I would say that today’s Chareidi leaders are of far lesser stature that those of yesteryear. Therefore, they have to compensate for that deficit by resorting to Kana’us. They let the rioters on the street and online scream and attack, thus reinforcing their positions about the draft and their anti-Medina sentiments.

    On a practical level, the Chareidim have never presented a serious counterproposal which would support the infrastructure of the country and the IDF. That is because they really have nothing to offer besides the assertion that their Torah and identity are fully supporting the existence of Am Yisrael. Well, that game is over, because we all know that non-Chareidim also do some serious learning and many Chareidim are totally incapable of doing so more than 20 minutes a day. The cobbled-together arguments to maintain the status quo of non-participation in the enterprise have becoming embarrassingly weak.

    So, I without anyone’s blessing, the new “Modernim” that Rabbi Adlerstein identifies understand what achrayus is and are going “back to the future”.

    • Dr. E says:

      I would add a couple of points to my comment above:

      (1) The Roshei Yeshiva of previous generation had fewer degrees of separation from other points of view. For example, the aforementioned Rav Ruderman was a cousin of Rav Nachum Rabinovitch and conferred Semicha on him. Not that there is always agreement with the other on everything, just mutual coexistence and respect. There were no handlers and gatekeepers. In Israel 2-3 generations ago, the Roshei Yeshiva had personal relationships with politicians, generals, and soldiers that were quite organic and not politically motivated. How many RY today have a family member serving in the IDF or some connection to a victim of October 7? How many know of a hostage family or a family that sat Shiva? A definite consequence of decades-long insularity.
      (2) In addition, perhaps because of #1 or perhaps a general decline in the Torah im derech eretz balance, there seems to be a wholesale lack of empathy and hakaras hatov to the Chayalim at the level of the individual. It’s one thing to talk in terms of “eis tzara l’Yaakov” in universal terms. However, that has become cliché and stale and can easily be box-checked with a kopitel of Tehillim after davening. But, how many have gone to a Shiva house, visited Har Herzl, or spoken with a hostage family? Would that going out of one’s comfort zone in a time of war and atrocities be such a heavy lift? Obviously, yes.

    • lacosta says:

      >> the Chareidim have never presented a serious counterproposal ..

      — if one lives in an entity as a bedieved [ ie haredim live in eretz yisrael , not medinat yisrael ], and holds that the entity [ a secular state of jews in palestine ] has no halachic or hashkafic legitimacy , then there is no need to posit an ‘ask what i can do for my country’ attitude. the reaction to the State is then like in golus — how do we keep the porutz happy , how can we keep the porutz from not interfering with our religious life. [ the idea that the porutz owes us money and a lot, because we are doing the porutz a favour being on his serfdom is a chiddush… ]

      • mycroft says:

        Do Haredim believe in obeying laws of countries in golus? If so, why is Israel any worse?

  15. Schemerel says:

    There is no way you can draft such a large unwilling population who ideologically opposes the draft. No one is talking about drafting Israeli Arabs now either.

    Tel Aviv also has a very disproportionately lower share of casualties this war than other parts of Israel.

    The only possible thing you can realistically do if you don’t want a disastrous outcome (1) make certain benefits only available to army veterans (2)make it easier for those who are leaving Yeshiva anyway to fill IDF jobs that in essence could be done by civilians.

  16. ben dov says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein says a new charedi movement in Israel already exists, in line with the values he holds. I don’t doubt his facts, but I question its viability. No religious Jewish movement ever succeeds without the support of gedolim. The Israeli charedi mainstream has that, besides the support of those American gedolim who agree with them. I ask who are the neo-charedi leaders? I’m not saying they don’t exist, just that I don’t know who they are and that they should be identified.

    • They exist. They are not going to be identified. They don’t want their windows broken

      • Bob Miller says:

        Sometimes, we enter the No True Scotsman twilight zone.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        WADR, their views are on line and can be read or heard by anyone interested in this issue. One of the sons of RSZA ZL answers halachic issues in the Yated and many of his queries since 10/7 have come from active soldiers in Gaza

    • mycroft says:

      There is no way you can draft such a large unwilling population who ideologically opposes the draft. No one is talking about drafting Israeli Arabs now either.

      I agree with the thought-since neither Haredim nor Arabs believe that there should be a State of Israel, the same rules should apply to both groups. FWIW a recent proposal actually would apply to both-demand all give at least civil service at 18 but much higher benefits to combat soldiers/veterans

  17. Bob Miller says:

    If chareidim in the active duty IDF reported back that the experience did not impinge on their Torah attitudes and behavior, that would be more productive than any speech by anybody.

    • Davidf says:

      Sadly, at the moment, not too many would be able to say that.

      I spoke with numerous soldiers from Nachal Charedi a number of years back and they all admitted that they were forced to make compromises that they did not expect to have to make and that it wasn’t quite what was promised to them. They also explained that if one wishes to progress in the military, there is no option at the next level where their sensitivities will be accommodated.

      With greater willpower, a tremendous amount can be done to shift things in the right direction, but it’ll need much more than just getting the Charedim on board. It’ll need the IDF to get on board as well. Neither is known for flexibility.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Davidf—When/if the blame for the debacle on Simchat Torah is fairly placed, and appropriate personnel and policy actions are taken, some key obstacles inside the IDF might be gone.

  18. SchnitzelBigot says:

    The IDF is doing pretty well with letting frum soldiers follow halacha. I think they could do a slightly better job with shemiras shabbos (not every order should be automatically considered pikuach nefesh), but it’s not bad. However, chareidim don’t care just about Halacha, there are other important things such as being in a good kosher environment, being separate not just from women but from secular influences, and not being influenced by foreign ideologies.

    And taking care of this issue is a bit more difficult than taking care of halacha. It would mean Charedi soldiers have an entirely different uniform, are exempt from singing Hatikva, are exempt from going to patriotism-boosting trips and speeches, etc. etc. It would mean rabbanim have full control who can join and stay in a frum unit. Everything about the unit would have to have a heimish chareidi tzurah. Essentially, a frum unit would have to be 1000% excluded from the IDF’s mission of being a “Kur Hituch.” I’m not sure if they’re willing to do that yet.

    Also, the government should stop issuing blanket exemptions once someone reaches a certain age. It just makes bachurim and yungerleit wait until that age to leave yeshiva/kollel. They should require a minimal amount of service as soon as someone leaves kollel, no matter his age. Eventually, the typical charedi yungerman should join the army after 5 -10 years of marriage when they’re ready to join the workforce. While this is a common sense solution which both sides can probably agree to reluctantly, neither side seems to be interested in pushing for such an agreement.

    Which means we’re going to have to wait for another more serious event ch”v that will trigger the charedi olam to start joining the IDF. Hopefully, it won’t be too late then.

    • Happy says:

      Reb Shnitzelbigot, this is an excellent suggestion on both fronts. The only thing I would add is that this theoretical unit wouldn’t fly the Israeli flag, but have a separate flag. Essentially, it would preserve the Chareidi value of separation from secularist Zionism, while allaying the complaints about not sharing the burden. I also like your suggestion about Yeshiva students serving whenever they are ready to leave yeshiva. Of course, this might be very expensive, and the army would have to really want this in order for it to happen. These types of solutions make everybody uncomfortable, which is the main ingredient for a good compromise!

      • moshe says:

        are you serious? Charedim should be allowed to fight under a different flag? charedim long ago embraced the state. Their entire lives depend on the State, from fudning for their mostdos and kollelim and a generous eell fare system that makes it possible for their men not to work, to the fact that Army protects the them , the medical system keeps them healthy, the streets are paved. Their are deeply involved in politics, their represetntives sit in the government and are ministers for God’s sake. The flag is the point. Charedim refuse to give to the state but are happy to take from it. If they cant even recognize the flag, why should they get any benfits?

      • Happy says:

        Reb moshe, I don’t understand. You say the flag is the point. I thought sharing the burden and manpower is the point? I think most Israelis are bothered by the unfairness of chareidim not sharing the burden and/or are worried about lack of manpower. I am sure they would be willing to compromise on the flag if that meant more chareidim joining. Personally, I have no problem with the flag. It is a beautiful blue symbol on a white background. But I understand why Israeli chareidim would have a negative historical association with it, and their need to separate from secular Zionism (they certainly wouldn’t agree that they “embrace” the state, any more than you “embrace” Netanyahu). Again, any changes will take compromise. Not my way or the highway. Flag should be the easiest thing to dispense with, and would probably make a big impact.

      • Moshe Shoshan says:

        OF course in the immediate sense we need charedim to serve. But this is only the most dangeous product of many danergous implications of charedi extreme seperatism. I don think you understand who profound the symbolism is of insisting of foghting under a different flag. The charedi community has grown to large to continue to live as a state with in a state.

      • Happy says:

        Oh, I didn’t know I was speaking with the eminent Reb Moshe Shoshan! Thanks for engaging in this discussion with me, I really appreciate it!
        You are still confusing me to no end. 99.99% of the discourse I am seeing on this topic from those who resent chareidim is regarding sharing the burden and manpower. I have given just one tiny suggestion of something that may help resolve these issues. It is something that is very easy and costs practically nothing. Let’s say I am right, and it would really help. Wouldn’t it be worth trying?
        You have a different problem with chareidim that I don’t see discussed as often, except among chilonim, and that is chareidi separatism. I am sorry to inform you that this is the entire raison d’etre of “chareidism”, as it is called- to separate from the secular and secularism. And to chareidim, this is synonymous with Judaism. Now, you may disagree, but by mixing this up with the army issue (“that flag is the point”, “charedi extreme seperatism”), you would only be confirming chareidim’s worst fears- that the main point the demand to “share the burden” is to strip them of their chareidi identity, which they regard as shmad. Therefore, even if you hold of your opinion very strongly, it would be better to not speak of it if you hope for anything to change regarding the army. לָכֵ֗ן הַמַּשְׂכִּ֛יל בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖יא יִדֹּ֑ם

    • Nachum says:

      There are various reasons why the ideal age for a soldier is eighteen, not thirty.

    • Ben Bradley says:

      I want to take issue with Schnitzlebigot’s and Happy’s approach here and in other comments.
      Firstly, regarding the flag and the anthem, don’t get tefel mixed up with ikar, That would not be a Torah approach. For a start, R Shach expressed no concerns about those issues in the army when saying that those not learning should serve. And regarding the flag, R Moshe teshuva in a different context made clear that despite its origin machlokes would be far worse. One can simply ignore it if one wishes. That’s not difficult. Regarding the anthem there’s one one actually contentious word in it. Work out which that is is you wish, and don’t say it you wish. It can just be ignored.
      If you’re going beyond the concerns of R Moshe and R Shach in such issues, you’re going wrong. Don’t miss the ikar for the tefel. ]

      • Happy says:

        Thank you for this comment Reb Ben. Personally, I have nothing against Hatikvah and the flag on its own. The issue is that Israeli chareidim may see these as symbols of secular Zionism and see the army as an attempt to induct them into the melting pot of greater Israeli society (see Reb Moshe Shoshan’s comments above “The flag is the point”, “dangerous implications of charedi extreme seperatism”). I think that removing these offensive elements, as well as other concessions, would go a long way to gaining their trust. The issue is not what makes Reb Ben Bradley comfortable, but what would possibly make Israeli chareidim more comfortable. Currently, non-chareidi society is not powerful enough to draft chareidim by force, so it can’t be a my-way-or-the-highway approach.

  19. DavidF says:

    Shades of Gray,

    I wrote that before your comment appeared, but thank you for the information.

    Rav Aharon Feldman said that eleven years ago! It’s no longer the case, if it ever was. Of course it’s true that for some segments of the Charedi population, the IDF will never be a consideration no matter what they do, but for many other segments, that is no longer the case. A lot has changed since then and there are definitely segments of the population that under the right circumstances would be much more open to the possibility.

    The fact that not all Charedim will join, should not deter those significant portions of the population who would be more open to it.

  20. Shades of Gray says:

    “It would mean Charedi soldiers have an entirely different uniform, are exempt from singing Hatikva…Everything about the unit would have to have a heimish chareidi tzurah.”

    I thought about that, and my guess is that the rabbinic side would have to compromise on such items.

    As I illustrated above with an anecdote from 1969, there was a Gerer Chasid who was a sofer of Tefilin in reserves then, and I doubt Hatikvah was an issue. See also Lacosta’s link above to Cole S. Aronson’s Jewish Review of Books article excerpted from below:

    “Menachem Friedman and Samuel Heilman have estimated that at various times in the early life of the state, about half of haredi men served in the IDF, though most of them received brief training and then went into reserves or non-combat brigades. An article published in the haredi newspaper Hamodia in June 1967, a few days before the Six Day War, celebrated the Orthodox soldiers for serving in “the most forward positions … wherever the army is, these soldiers will be found.” MenachemKeren-Kratz, an independent scholar, has estimated that 4 percent of Israeli soldiers who fought in the Six Day War were haredim.”

    Rav Aharon Feldman mentioned Hatikvah — even in a case of pikuach nefesh– as a reason for objecting to the Washington rally. Accordingly, he might object in the case of soldiers as well.

    However, other poskim might disagree with Rav Feldman. Dovid Lichtenstein, for example, respectfully questioned R. Feldman’s letter for various reasons in his 11/25 Headlines program about the rally, according to the version I downloaded. He said, for example, that according to the online minutes of the 1967 rally which the Roshei Yeshiva attended, Hatikvah was sung and danced to by young people. He mentioned that he in fact invited R. Feldman to discuss his letter on a future Headlines program(see first 15 minutes of original version). However, that section discussing R. Feldman’s position appears to have been edited out of the version currently posted online.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      See the lonk that I posted from Headlines where -R Ari Wasserman discussed it and R Asher Weiss clearly rejected it as an ideoligically rooted view that was not based on the facts on the ground.

  21. MK says:

    In the 1960’s -70’s I davened Mincha daily in a Hapoel Hamizrachi shule.
    And I was joined , hundreds of times, by Rav Pam ZTL.
    Needless to say, there were Israeli flags all over.
    It didn’t surprise anyone.
    I also witnessed Rav Hutner ZTL coming there to be sandek at a bris.
    It didn’t surprise anyone.
    Both would shock virtually everyone…
    If they would believe it!

    • DavidF says:

      I read it and I’m not shocked.

      Neither Rav Hutner nor Rav Pam were Satmar. They were Charedim who did not approve of the flag and what it represented, but did not view it with the repulsion that Satmar chassidim do. That doesn’t mean that they believed in it or had it flying in their own yeshivos so your anecdote is meaningless.

      • MK says:

        That is exactly why my anecdote is so meaningful!
        You don’t need to “approve” of the flag, or “fly it” in order to appreciate the need find a solution to this problem. None of the Roshei Yeshiva who attended the 1967 rally flew the flag. But they were nuanced , as were Rav Hutner and Rav Pam.
        Today’s Chareidi world has moved much closer to what you call the Satmar position.

    • mycroft says:

      Why the surprise during the late 70s to early 90s many times I davened mincha at the Agudah headquarters in lower Manhattan-they moved during time period. No problem for me-and you wouldn’t confuse me for being Chareidi.

  22. DavidF says:


    You wrote: “Please understand that as a person who veiws them selves only as charedi and as a parent, you concerns make sense. But if you view yourself first and formost as Jew committed to Torah, Klal yisrale and Eretz Yisrael, and being chardei is secodnary to these core torah values, then the descision not to send makes no sense at all,”

    I appreciate your intense emotions and how you view this all, but I’m afraid that I cannot agree. At all.

    Being “Charedi” is as inseparable from being a Torah-observant, G-d-fearing Jew to me as is a rib steak to being fleishig. A Charedi does not have more mitzvos or different Mitzvos than any other Jew. Rather, the term Charedi stems from חרד לדבר ה and reflects an attitude, not a religion.

    Without chas v’shalom downplaying the value or importance of anyone else’s approach or attitude toward Avodas Hashem, one who is a חרד לדבר ה is simply prioritizing the דבר ה over everything else at all times. He strives to be as perfect in his Avodas Hashem as possible, although he understands and recognizes that perfection is not attainable. He is willing to forgo many common comforts and conveniences (think internet, smartphones, chalav stam, pas akum…), for fear that he will diminish his devotion to the דבר ה. He devotes himself more fully to Torah study and avoids things like following professional sports, world travel, and restaurant hopping. He builds a large family – far larger than any other population – despite the knowledge that financially it is not feasible, and with the knowledge that it’ll eat up most of his time and earning power.

    Being Charedi informs every single aspect of a person’s life because it is his highest priority. It’s not a scarf that can be donned or discarded on a whim.

    Does it absolutely preclude the possibility of serving in the army? No. But it makes it much more difficult. Must we make all sorts of compromises because that’s what moshe or yair lapid demands of us? I don’t think so. Certainly not when the army can do a MUCH better job of meeting us in the areas that are important to us.

    I appreciate that you believe that we should just forget it and give up on what we hold dear, but I’m afraid that this option is not on the table for us anymore than asking you to give up on your sacred principles would be for you. I respect and honor that and would ask that you do the same. You’re prepared to give up your life for the State. I’m also prepared to give up my life for my religious principles. I’m not more cowardly than you, I’m just more tolerant. I’m willing to meet and discuss compromise once I’m assured that it’s compromise you seek, not capitulation. Unfortunately, your attitude and the attitude of the IDF until now has been to seek capitulation. No thanks.

  23. Shades of Gray says:

    YU has  just published “Doresh Tzion,”  an eBook of perspectives from its rabbeim in response to October 7th and its aftermath. 

    Rabbi Elchanan Adler has a nuanced presentation there titled  “How Underlying Attitudes Affect Our Value Judgments on Israel and the Washington Rally.” He discusses the different opinions about Zionism in general and about the Washington rally, including  Rabbi Aharon Feldman’s letter.  R. Adler makes reference to his own conversation that he had with  Rabbi Elya Brudny of the Moetzes about his position on the rally. The article notes the spectrum of  different attitudes on these issues  even in the Yeshiva World, also covering Israeli flags and Eretz Hakodesh’s participation in the WZO. 

    Fascinatingly, in  1949, Rabbi Adler mentions how  Rabbi Ruderman invited Rabbi Zev Gold, the head of the Mizrachi, as the guest speaker at the 6th Chag Hasmicha in Ner Yisrael.  

    Other articles in the compilation which discuss the rally and its criticism are  Rabbi Mayer Twersky’s “Rallying for Israel – The Halachic Perspective”(based on an audio shiur available on YU Torah; a Hebrew PDF is on Torah Web) and Rabbi Mordechai Willig’s article,  “Jewish History and Jewish Unity”(originally published on Torah Web).  See links below to “Doresh Tzion” (index with hyperlinks are on pages 17-18 of the PDF) and to the original audio version of  Rabbi Adler’s article:

    R. Elchanan Adler’s background makes him a good person to discuss these matters. In a Q&A session this summer in  Yeshivat Har Etzion given together with R. Moshe Taragin linked below, R. Adler mentions  how growing up on Manhattan’s  Lower East Side, he saw the  Boyaner Kloiz right next to the Mizrachi shul,  which on the Shabbos  before the 5th of Iyar, hung out of the door the Israeli and American flags. Everyone came out the same time after Shabbos davening and greeted each other, without thinking twice of the ideological differences which were non-issues(Minute 10). 

    The Q&A  was about  the relationship between the different worlds of Torah and their differences. Notably, before discussing the drawbacks of insularity in terms of potentially  diminishing one’s identifying with and collective responsibility for a larger segment of Klal Yisrael(also a point in R. Adler’s above article about the Washington rally), R. Adler mentions a Satmar talmid chacham with whom he is very close to who has tremendous ahavas Yisrael as well as the example of the Satmar Bikur Cholim(Minute 41). He also touches upon the WZO controversy(Minutes 43- 44). See link:

  24. Rebbetzin says:

    The missing piece here is Satmars opposition to the State which stands wether the army is fully shomer Torah Umitzvos or not,
    See quote from previous CrossCurrents conversation

    The Satmar ideology is that any independent Jewish state, absent the coming of Mashiach, is illegitimate. Therefore, theoretically, if the State was populated entirely by Orthodox (even Charedi) Jews and run completely in accordance to halacha- even, I suppose, if the Mikdash was rebuilt, the Avoda conducted, and a Sanhedrin functioned- it would still be illegitimate. Thus, it really doesn’t make any difference what the State or government does, or has done in the past: Good or bad, it’s still all bad, so why bother criticizing?

  25. Steven Brizel says:

    Yasher Koach on a superbly written article that outlines this issue very well. Interested readers should read anything and everything by R Y Pfeffer here on this issue which I think in the wake of 10/7 has changed from a non negotiable issue into an issue where much rerthinking of the same is going on. One cannot deny that the American edition of Mishpacha , a C haredi publication, has been covering the war and the IDF in a very favorable light . The views of some Charedi RY that cautioned against making role models out of Chayalim as symbols of secular Zionism have been forcefully rejected by R Asher Weiss as quoted on the Headlines podcast here
    who has clearly stated that a RY who voices such statements should not be a RY and lacks the ability to give gudiance because of a lack of knowledge of the facts on the ground. We know that Charedim have enlisted in the IDF and have been sworn in to the tune of Hatikva . All of the above are signs of change from within which is always preferable to change dictated by strangers

    I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to R Josh Friedman , who was a Ben Bayis of a dear friend of mine as a talmid in RIETS , as well as the efforts of R Dovid Gottlieb and Tzlash which concentrates on helping the spiritual needs of Chayalim such as pocket sized copies of sefarim such as Minchas Asher which will fit in a knapsack, and the roles of R Asher Weiss and R Rimon in providing Halachic advices to what is an army with Bnei Torah and Talmidei Chachamim who are defending all of us.

  26. Steven Brizel says:

    In the US , a strong case can be made that we don’t say Tehilim with enough Kavanah and outside of RIETS and the YI of Riverdale, I am unaware of other shuls that recite Avinu Malkeinu which has been recited daily since the outbreak of the war- the missions are great, but one wonders when and where those who opposed participating in the rally last November will visit an army base, be mnachem avel or mavaker cholim with soldiers in rehabiliation .One wonders about all those Mussar shmussen about being Noseh Bol Chavero when the attitude at time is “B H I visited EY and you would never have thought there was a war going on” See especially the views of Rambam at the beginning of Hilcos Taaniyos and Hilscos Teshuvah about not identifying with your fellow Jews in their time of stress

  27. Steven Brizel says:

    I think that like so many other issues since 10/7 that the issue of Charedim and the army is being revisited wiithin the Charedi world while we all are setting forth our views here. There is no doubt that the comments of Roshei Yeshiva who cautioned against excessive idol worship of Chayalim and identification with secular Zionism have been rejected as not refelecting the facts on the ground by R Asher Weiss , whose views on the subject were on this episode I reccomend the views of R Y Pfeffer for excellent discussions on this issue There is no doubt that many Chayalim have turned to R Asher Weiss and R Rimon for halachic and hashkafic answers and that there is increased Charedi enrollment in the IDF and that such change, as on so many issues can and will come from within as more and more members of the community realize that they are all in the same boat with their not yet observant brothers and sisters and that in the US the Charedi media especially Mishpacha have tried very hard not to think that life is normal and to think that one can RL visit Israel and come away with the impression that he or she did not even notice that a war has underway-One wonders when those were so vocally against participating in a rally will lead a mission that focuses on Chizuk for the IDF and victims of 10/7-we see much evidence of communal missions but IMO being embedded in a hotel for a Yarchei Kallah with zero time for Chesed by men as well as women IMO is singularly poor optics.

  28. Ben Waxman says:

    Most of the people here seem to be writing from the US. I don’t think that the Americans really get the depth of the disconnect between the Chareidi and non-Chareidi communities.

    On the day after the municipal elections I listened to the news on Kan, Galatz, Kol Hai, and Kol B’Rama. On the first two stations, the main issue discussed was the war. Elections came up but they were secondary. On the Chareidi stations, the was mentioned in the headlines, but then the presenters went straight to the election results. The war was simply not there, it wasn’t an issue.

    There is an incredible canyon separating the communities, something which has become deeper and wider over the years. All the talk about Chareidim entering the work force or joining the army is really not getting at the real issue here.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “All the talk about Chareidim entering the work force or joining the army is really not getting at the real issue here”


      Precisely because there is a significant  cultural divide, that’s why change needs to be slow. Perhaps if there was small, natural change, that might, in part, satisfy all sides.  For example,  R. Menachem Bombach wrote regarding  “Stage 2 Volunteers, “I believe that this will work better than making conscription compulsory, which will alienate the community.” Bibi also spoke about compromise on this issue. Of course, compromise proposals have been attempted in the past, and additionally, the effects of the military and political situations on the draft make the current situation in flux. See R. Bombach’s post:

      Also, are there any rabbonim or leaders from either side who speak about trying to bridge the gap between religious communities? Surely there are people who might have ideas, whether in actual interactions between communities, or just in how to think about and relate to the divide through Torah which, on some level, unites everyone.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        Yesterday, HaRav Meir Bergman spoke and said that there will be absolutely no compromise. This morning, Rav Yonaton Rice was interviewed on Kol B’Rama. Rav Rice is the rosh yeshiva of a chareidi hesder yeshiva. Rav Rice said flat out that the rabbanim and political leaders will not compromise on this issue. Meaning: there is an idea floating around that anyone who is learning gets a deferment, anyone who is not learning must be drafted. Rav Rice said that this idea cannot be accepted because enacting this idea as law means “officially accepting the idea that there is an alternative to learning”. He wants individual chareidim to enlist, in much greater numbers, but no official goals.

        Kann showed some polling numbers showing that in the dati leumi community, support for the idea that people learning should get deferments has plummeted. The hesder yeshivot and mechinot are all mourning their dead. I am not exaggerating when I say that Efrat (12,000 people) has more war dead than Beitar (65,000 people).

        Don’t look to the DLs to be the bridge on this one.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Yesterday, HaRav Meir Bergman spoke and said that there will be absolutely no compromise”

        Other leaders appear to be more open on the issue. The NYT just interviewed UTJ’s Yitzhak Goldknopf: “The world stands on three things: Torah, prayer, and charity,” he said. But, he added, “The reality is that those who don’t study can go to the army.” Then he paused the interview to proudly show off a photo of a soldier on his phone. It was a picture of his nephew.” That’s certainly notable. The above notwithstanding, Brothers in Arms movement protested outside of Minister’s Goldknopf’s house before last month’s High Court hearing on the draft.

        Interestingly, despite Gallant’s call for a draft, Agence France-Presse quoted a former high-ranking officer last month that the army is also not rushing to enlist haredim: “They are not good fighters, and we don’t have time, in the midst of war, to take months to train people without education other than a religious one,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity”(“War spurs anger over Israel military exemption for ultra-Orthodox”, 2/3/24). Clearly, the draft would present challenges to the army.

        On the other hand, R. Menachem Bombach said in his post I linked that the army is indeed interested: “Together, we have been working to find suitable jobs for Haredim in the army, and I am impressed by how invested they are in this project, despite the pressures of the war.”

    • M Cohen says:

      The Torah is replete with examples of fighting age people among Am Yisrael obligated to serve and engage in war with enemies, such as when an esteemed clan of Kohanim led a fight against the Greeks to establish an independent Jewish nation. To blissfully ignore this obligation to defend Yisrael at the grave cost of thousands and thousands of Jewish lives is the clearest and greatest ongoing averah among Am Yisrael that one can think of. The teshuvah opportunity represented by this alone should be embraced immediately and be reason to change course quickly.

      • mycroft says:

        Don’t look to the DLs to be the bridge on this one

        Agreed-precisely since their children serve and they are religious they have no sympathy for those who they believe are making a chillul hashem by freeloading.

  29. Shades of Gray says:

    Rabbi Elchanan Adler of RIETS has a nuanced presentation on some of the Zionism-related issues discussed here, including the Washington rally, which was just republished in YU’s “Doresh Tzion” compendium.

    One of his central points is that “what is often lost in all of this discussion is that between the two extreme outlooks there exists a wide spectrum, and you don’t have to be completely on one end or on the other…The Rav was an eloquent spokesman for Mizrachi, but he was opposed to any attempt to tamper with nusach hatefillah”(p. 97). Conversely, ” you can attend the rally and recognize the fact that it is addressing a large spectrum of people. They’re going to sing Hatikvah, even if you don’t join in”(p. 101).

    Fascinatingly, “in 1949, Rav Ruderman invited Rav Zev Gold, the head of the Mizrachi, as the guest speaker at the 6th Chag Hasmicha in Ner Yisrael.” Similar examples of “non-Zionist” gedolim who were not monolithic are that “Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky writes in Emes L’Yaakov that the State of Israel restored a sense of dignity to Klal Yisrael after the horrors of the Holocaust…When people would ask where to go to daven at kivrei tzadikim, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach would say to go to Har Herzl to daven at the soldiers’ graves. There was a sensitivity, an appreciation for what it meant to be moser nefesh for the country. Rav Yosef Kahanman insisted that an Israeli flag be hung on Yom Ha’atzmaut in the Ponevezh Yeshiva, and it still is.”(pgs 97-98). R. Adler also discusses R. Aharon Feldman’s letter on the Washington rally and makes reference to his own conversation that he had with R. Elya Brudny of the Moetzes about his position on the rally(p. 100; other articles in the “Doresh Tzion” compilation which discuss the rally and its criticism are by R. Mayer Twersky and R. Mordechai Willig).

    Two anecdotes which R. Adler related from his own experience reflect a similar nuance. In a Q&A session this summer in Yeshivat Har Etzion given together with R. Moshe Taragin, R. Adler mentions how growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he would see the Boyaner Kloiz right next to the Mizrachi shul, which on the Shabbos before the 5th of Iyar, hung out of the door the Israeli and American flags. Everyone came out the same time after Shabbos davening and greeted each other, without thinking twice of the ideological differences which were non-issues(Minute 10). Before discussing the drawbacks of insularity in terms of potentially diminishing one’s identifying with and collective responsibility for a larger segment of Klal Yisrael(also a point in R. Adler’s above article about the Washington rally on pgs. 101-102), R. Adler notes the varieties of people even within specific communities and mentions a Satmar talmid chacham with whom he is very close to who has tremendous ahavas Yisrael as well as the example of the Satmar Bikur Cholim(Minute 41).

    See links to the PDF and audio of R. Adler’s shiur on Israel and the rally, YU’s “Doresh Tzion” compendium of perspectives from its roshei yeshiva and rebbeim in response to October 7th and its aftermath, and R. Adler’s Q&A session referenced above:

    • ChanaRachel says:

      I think this comment is a perfect example of what Ben Waxman wrote above “I don’t think that the Americans really get the depth of the disconnect between the Chareidi and non-Chareidi communities.”

      If the issue was one of hanging Israeli flags, attending rallies, or saying Shabbat Shalom to those coming out of a different shul, people would not be wasting so much ink (or electrons) on the topic. Until this war, the issue of Chareidi draft, was really one of a perception of fairness… annoying for those of us who / whose children serve, but possibly more ideological than existential. Now, with the numbers of soldiers (mainly but not only from the reserves) who have suffered physical, emotional, economic, and marital harm, it has become a cry for help. Non-Chareidi Israeli society has simply been stressed to a breaking point, and no longer has the luxury of allowing 15% of the Jewish population not to serve.


      Separately, there is a dissonance between the different reasons given by the Chareidim for not serving. On the one hand, they say, Torah leaning is more important than anything else (some say that it also helps us win wars), but that the Chareidim not in Yeshiva could/should really be drafted, as they are not learning Torah anyway. On the other hand, we are told that it is all about the Chareidi lifestyle, and how it would be impacted by army service, and the fear of Chareidi soldiers going off the derech. If that’s the fear, then should it not be the Yeshiva boys who are drafted, as they are much less likely to have their Torah observance negatively impacted (and would be in accord with all the examples in Tana”ch where davka the most G-d fearing fought)?

      Finally, what though has been given to the fact that based on the army’s significant manpower needs since Simchat Torah, and absent Chareidi enlistment, DL Mechina students have had to stop learning and be drafted sooner, and many more women are joining the army (considered a big-time Yehareg Ve-al Yaavor in Chareidi circles). Are the Chareidim sure that the choices they’ve made a really “ratzon Hashem”?

      • Shades of Gray says:

        Chana Rachel,

        As I wrote in the outset of my comment, I was focusing on “some of the Zionism-related issues discussed here.”  I was building on the wonderful examples MK wrote above of his witnessing Rav Pam and  Rav Hutner davening in Hapoel Hamizrachi shul, complete with Israeli flags.

        About drafting Charedim, I hear your points, and I commented separately from different angles, including one in response to  Ben Waxman’s comment  which you refer to. I mentioned there the perspective of  R. Menachem Bombach on the draft who is a forward-thinking Israeli charedi educator who was awarded the Annual Jerusalem Unity Prize.

        By the way, R. Elchanan Adler’s shiur I discussed also provides broad perspectives relevant to hashkafa and to life in general well beyond Zionism.

        For example,  in the article I linked  he contrasts halacha and hashkafa, “where there’s safek,  there are hanhagos of safek…In  halachah there’s a psak; if you have a taaroves you plug in the klalei  hapsak. In the world of hashkafah, there are a lot of variables and it’s  hard to pin down. Where one ends up is often dependent on where  one’s starting point of reference is”(p. 95). Regarding the Washington rally, R. Adler says, “decisions in life, both in this regard and regarding lots of other  things, are not always black and white. You can be right in one context,  and you can see a larger perspective in a different context”(pp.102-103).

  30. Dr E says:

    I would propose a Yissachar-Zevulun type of arrangement whereby Chareidim who are not learning full-time or are incapable of spending all day in the Beis Medrish (including those now engaged in ant-Draft protests blocking roads) would agree to support Talmidim from Hesder Yeshivot and Mechinot. The idea would involve the Chareidi Bochurim switching places with the Hesder guys, giving them the opportunity to furlough back into their Batei Midrash. That would help make up for the sedarim and shiurim that they have missed over the past 4 months.

    In a few weeks, there will be the start of a month-and-a-half Bein Hazemanim and thereby an easy opportunity to pilot this program. Any takers?

    • ChanaRachel says:

      It’s a good idea in principle, but these Chareidim would require ~18 months training to be useful for most combat tasks…

  31. Steven Brizel says:

    I think that we will see change on a more significant level from the ongoing changes as more and more Talmidim engage in a serious and personal Cheshbon HaNefesh as opposed to a knee jerk hashkafic checking of the box and ask themselves simply because what happened in the .kibbutzim could have happened in their communities and whether their contribution to Klal Yisrael is in the Beis Medrash or in the IDF

  32. Sheifele says:

    Israel for the first time has a defense minister that has justified draft dodging by the Ashkenazi elites. He is part of the problem poisoning the atmosphere against chareidim. You don’t have to fall into the media’s trap if a changing atmosphere, it’s a fraud.

    • Bob Miller says:

      If the defense minister were an honest man, he’d be cleaning out at least some dead wood in the general staff as we speak. Their days as a shadow government working for themselves and America have to end. But, at heart, he’s like them.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        The DM was at least thinking when he was an officer of the possibility and probability of a war with Hamas in Gaza . History will judge the current brass of the IDF in the same way as it did its predecessors in 1973

    • mycroft says:

      History will judge the current brass of the IDF in the same way as it did its predecessors in 1973

      Much worse than 1973-1973 was an intelligence error but partially a political one-they were discussing how to react. Here the IDF was incapable of reacting for hours-unlike weeks in 1973-we are 5 months into the war and forgetting Gaza where Hamas is certainly not defeated, Israelis are not near the Lebanon border, Isael has not secured Lebanon border enough to enable civilians to move back.
      Certainly, political leadership at fault believing that there was a peace dividend lowering IDF service times in 2015 combined with belief that signing Accords with a few minor non frontline states meant that your country was secure.

  33. Shades of Gray says:

    I just finished listening to the episode of “Two Rabbis, Three Opinions” ; it is good to hear Rabbi Adlerstein as well.

    Towards the end of the episode, the issue of Israeli haredim navigating the challenges of modernity and mitigating the attendant risk of defection was discussed. R. Adlerstein pointed out that the Anglo charedi model of inoculation and preparation shows that the navigation can be done as a community, although how to transplant it to Israel is an issue(Minutes 28-30).

    On this point, R. Moshe Hillel Hirsch’s speech discussed in the previous CC post mentioned Israelis learning from the American charedi model, as per R. Yair Hoffman’s VIN article(“I know avreichim Talmidei chachamim in America who work for their livelihood… In America today, this has become widespread, with some following a simple daily daf gemara and others delving more b’iyun, resembling the bnei torah in yeshivas”).

  34. Ben Waxman says:

    “Then he paused the interview to proudly show off a photo of a soldier on his phone. It was a picture of his nephew.”

    I am going to have to throw a bit of cold water on this factoid. First of all, the opening picture in the NYT article shows Rav Grossman talking with army officers. Anyone who knows anything about Rav Grossman knows that he works with everyone. Secondly regarding MK Goldknopf’s nephew: I did a search for information about this in Hebrew and found absolutely nothing. Minister Goldknopf speaks on a regular basis to the Israeli media and hasn’t brought up this nephew. Thirdly, these examples of this person’s son or that person’s nephew are the not the issue. The question is will there be a systematic change in the relationship between the Chareidi community and the State of Israel.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “I did a search for information about [Goldknopf’s nephew] in Hebrew and found absolutely nothing…The question is will there be a systematic change…”

      CNN elaborated on Minister’s Goldknopf’s position in an article published last week(they note that it’s far from universally accepted):

      “Before Hamas’ attack, Yitzhak Goldknopf, minister of housing and construction, and head of the United Torah Judaism party, had threatened to quit the government unless Haredim were given a permanent exemption. His position now remains unclear. But Ari Kalman, who serves as spokesperson for Goldknopf, told CNN: “Something needs to change, after we saw October 7.” The Haredim “are talking differently,” he said. “They’re saying, listen, whoever doesn’t learn should go” and serve the country. That view is far from universal…”

      The article also interviews Nechemia Steinberger, a Haredi rabbi who has for years worked to integrate mainstream education into his community, and who signed up to the IDF in the wake of the Covid pandemic. He speaks about the slow pace of change, something I suggested above as well:

      “Even if the Haredi exemption to conscription were scrapped, the practical realities are that we are unlikely to see scenes of military police dragging scores of young men to recruitment offices. “If you want really to create the change, it’s going to take years. It’s going to take at least a generation.”

  35. Steven Brizel says: One wonders in the sense of HaShem Haeir Es Enai to paraphrase R Akiva Eiger ZL as to the above comments. Where will the Sefardim go- Deal. Flatbush, Quatar , Gaza or Syria? WADR, where is the appreciation for what is happening in Gaza on a daily basis and the facts on the ground of increased Charedi enlistment?

    • In all fairness, I very much doubt is R. Yosef meant what people think he said. My read is that he was referring to taking all the genuine learners out of the beit midrash – something that virtually no one is calling for. Shas is sort of on-(off)record as being OK with ending exemptions for the minimal- and non-learners. I think he was just trying to reinforce the idea that we believe that it is crucial for there to be a shevet Levi. If we were forced to abandon that, it would be appropriate to leave the country, c”v.

  36. Steven Friedman says:

    A bit late, but apropos to this post, I share a link where a rabbi from North America cites Rabbi Adlerstein in the same article where the rabbi says that he has begun to reduce his tzedaka to needy Haredim if he does not get a ‘satisfactory’ answer to his question about Haredim and army service.

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