A war of words broke out between Shas and Bayit Yehudi on Monday surrounding
ongoing coalition negotiations and the issue of haredi enlistment in the
Joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said that he had been meeting with
several national-religious rabbis and told them to warn Bayit Yehudi leader
Naftali Bennett against making agreements with Yesh Atid regarding the “Torah
“We don’t want Bayit Yehudi making decisions for the Torah world,
or to enter into agreements and understandings with [Yesh Atid leader] Yair
Lapid for the Torah world,” Yishai said during an interview with Channel
“Bennett is not the patron for the Torah world and isn’t responsible
for it and so shouldn’t make decisions for it,” Yishai said.
turning to the [national-religious] rabbis and telling them to warn or request
the Bayit Yehudi MKs not to dare harm the Torah world.”
Shas and United
Torah Judaism are concerned Yesh Atid will insist in coalition negotiations on
the cancelation of the mass exemptions from military service that were available
to full-time yeshiva students as part of the “Tal Law,” which was overturned
Incoming Bayit Yehudi MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan took exception to
what he termed “Yishai’s accusations that Bayit Yehudi would abandon the Torah
world,” and also said that no one from Shas had apologized for “the very harsh
words that were said against [Bayit Yehudi] during the election
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said in his last
speech before the election that Bayit Yehudi – which means “Jewish Home” in
English – was “the home of non-Jews,” in comments pertaining to the party’s
stance on issues of religion and state.
“The Torah world is beloved to us
no less than to Shas,” Dahan said on the Knesset Channel. “I studied in yeshiva
for more years than [Shas leaders] Arye Deri, Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias
combined, so to say that the Torah world isn’t important to us is not
Ben-Dahan also denied that national-religious rabbis were
putting pressure on Bayit Yehudi regarding the issues being discussed within the
Several senior national-religious rabbis have
reportedly met with the grand rabbis of the Gur, Belz and Viznitz dynasties over
the past two days, including rabbis Yaakov Ariel, Elyakim Levanon, Haim Druckman
Yaakov Shapira, Simcha Cohen Kook, Shmuel Eliyahu, Zvi Yisrael Tau and Zalman
However, Ben-Dahan repeated Bayit Yehudi’s stance on the issue
of haredi enlistment that “anyone learning Torah, [Bayit Yehudi] will protect
him so he can continue to learn Torah,” but said that “someone who is not
studying” should perform national service.
It is widely believed that
many thousands of those enrolled in full-time study do not actually fulfill
their commitments, although precise figures are not available.
political and spiritual leadership says it is open to drafting such people into
national service, but refuses to accept proposals, such as that of Yesh Atid,
that would impose quotas on the number of yeshiva students who can receive
national service exemptions.
Uri Ariel, who is no. 2 on Bayit Yehudi’s
list and is and part of the Tekuma faction, said on haredi radio station Kol
Berama that the party does not support Lapid’s plans for universal enlistment,
and was in discussions with the haredi parties on the issue.
Shas also attacked Bayit Yehudi on Monday for seeking to undermine the Jewish
and religious identity of the state.
Incoming Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet
Shaked said in response on Army Radio that Shas had “taken control of religious
institutions,” and that the party’s 12-seat election haul would help reverse
“Shas’s hegemony over the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Services
She noted that it was possible to form a government without
Shas, but said that Bayit Yehudi would still be happy to work together with the
Separately, UTJ’s coalition negotiating team met with Likud
on Monday to discuss their parameters for joining the government. Deputy Health
Minister Ya’acov Litzman said that United Torah Judaism’s central condition for
joining the government is that anyone who wants to learn Torah should be allowed
to do so.
He added that increasing equality in the burden of national
service should include the Arab sector as well.