Enlistment law is counter productive

IDF Yeshiva Leader Demands: ‘Cancel Enlistment Law’
Former chairman of Hesder Yeshivas Association calls on Supreme Court to cancel; ‘no hareidim enlisting anymore.’

By Benny Toker, Ari Yashar, INN

Soldier and hareidi man (illustration)

Soldier and hareidi man (illustration)

Representatives of the IDF’s Human Resources branch spoke before the Knesset committee that is tracking implementation of the Enlistment Lawthis week, acknowledging there has been a significant drop in hareidi IDF enlistment due to the law.

The controversial law, passed in mid-March to mandate hareidi enlistment, had the reverse effect, with the IDF admitting it caused a 30% drop in hareidi enlistment that month.

Rabbi Avraham Baron, former Chairman for 25 years of the Hesder Yeshivas Association, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the impacts of the law. It should be noted that hesder yeshivas combine military service and Torah study, usually for a period of four to six years.

The rabbi expressed his hopes that the Supreme Court would cancel the new Enlistment Law.

“I pray with all my heart that the Supreme Court will invalidate this law, because if not, we won’t see even a single hareidi enlist. The atmosphere of ‘anti’ (among hareidim) will continue, and there will be a social and financial crisis that will enlarge the schism in the nation, and harm the state of Israel’s potential to blossom,” assessed the hesder program leader.

Rabbi Baron explained that as long as the hareidi rabbis do not call for IDF enlistment, it simply won’t happen, regardless of any laws the state may pass.

“This law is really a dispute, the (hareidi) rabbis have no faith in the army today, and it’s a fact that no hareidim are enlisting,” remarked the rabbi.

The hesder rabbi continued “in my period…there were thousands of hareidim (in the IDF), then the rabbis had faith in the system, but they took their steps, and since then it all has started to deteriorate.”

“If there won’t be a clear call in the law saying whoever can sit and study Torah should study, the rabbis won’t cooperate,” stated Rabbi Baron. “We need to create industrial peace for the rabbis, to create attractive paths for hareidim to return the thousands of hareidim that were in the army.”

Rabbi Baron concluded by warning the law poses a threat to the religious Zionist hesder yeshivas as well, which he did not elaborate on.

“I suggest to every dean of our yeshivas to read the law carefully, and if they want to they are invited to contact me,” said the rabbi.

The Enlistment Law was a source of friction in the Jewish Home party, which led efforts to pass the law. MK Yoni Chetboun was the only MK of the party to break party discipline and vote against it, warning that it would “split apart Israeli society.”

For his stance, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett punished Chetboun by removing him from the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security for the entire summer session, in addition to barring him from submitting laws during the first six weeks of the following session.

MK Motti Yogev of Jewish Home likewise said he “almost” voted againstthe law. He warned the law harms “the enlistment of hareidim to the IDF, harms other values dear to us in the Jewish Home, and will demand of us an internal and external systemic reorganization.”

The law set off a string of mass hareidi protests, including a rally in Jerusalem in March that attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.

June 28, 2014 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Enlistment, shmelistment — shlemiel-istment. This controversy has been allowed to go on for way too long.

    There are several sovereign entities which have continued to be in a formal state of war with Israel since 1948 — and several others which would like nothing better than to ENTER that state of affairs if they could get away with it clean.

    Under the circumstances, there is no reason to abolish the conscription system.

    And as long as Israel maintains conscription, there is no reason not to draft the chareidim just like everybody else.

    Enough already.

  2. If the law was seen more compassionately it might have worked. The animosity or venom directed towards the Chareidi, or the Torah world in general, is what caused it’s failure. Yes, the Chareidi should serve. Yes, they need to be integrated into Israeli society-ie. the workforce. They need to want to care about the country more. But it must be presented much more compassionately if not delicately especially if you want the rabbaim, whose influence is paramount for change, to consider going along with it. If that could happen you would get the desired change from within and not just shoving it down their throats just to create equal numbers in the army. I am sure that the Chareidi world (are they not human too?) perceives the new law as animosity directed towards their “religious” world with the manifest reason of trying the create “equality” of burden in society. There is a problem. With 20% of first graders now Chareidi they have to be prepared to integrate better into society. All this starts with cooperation from the rabbis that influence the parents and teach the children. And as far as I understand the IDF doesn’t really need all that many recruits so nobody can claim there is a need for personnel in the army that could be alleviated by greater Chareidi enrollment. I give MK Cherboun a lot of credit for voting against the bill. It wasn’t meant to help the Chareidi and, as we see, it didn’t help “equalize” the burden. It had the opposite effect. You need to start with the educational system early on and start reeducating the rabbis to see the benefit for those they influence of, not only serving in the army, but learning a trade or skill to earn an honest living and not be dependent on the government to support them. Earning a living and Torah study are not mutually exclusive and not only is it a big mitzvah to serve in the army but the halacha requires that a man earn a living. I objected to the way this bill was presented.I reject the venom directed at the Chareidi, who we can learn from too, but you can’t blame an 18 year old Chareidi boy whose been learning his whole life and told to do only that by his rabbaim to all of a sudden understand then meaning of serving in the army and being inspired to do so. That has to come from within and from early on and that starts with reeducating or convincing their rabbaim that it is, not just in all of society’s, but the young Chareidi boys best interest and not by passing a law forcing it down their throats. Laws like that only backfire and set an change of real change backwards just like trying to shove a peace deal down our throat by the US only served to essentially destroy any peace process that may have existed. But that really is a good thing- the divisiveness the law created is not.

  3. Why is there even a “choice”. True democracy requires a One Size Fits All approach. This is the sad result of Ben Gurion’s allowing religious groups to have state sanctioned political parties. Now these religious groups enjoy the benefits of the state without any of the responsibilities. Nice work if you can get it , and get it they do.