Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef sent a letter to President Shimon Peres on Thursday calling on him to prevent “a split in the Jewish people” regarding haredi enlistment in national service and to act as a mediator between the opposing political factions on the issue.
Arrangements for universal national service is a crucial concern of Shas and United Torah Judaism in coalition negotiations for entering the government, and the two haredi parties are worried that legislation will be passed in the coming Knesset mandating service for yeshiva students.
“I turn to you with a worried and pained heart,” Yosef wrote to Peres. “Throughout the generations, the Jewish people has risked its life to study the holy Torah.
“Please, use your influence in order to bring together the different sectors of our people and, at this time when there are people who are sowing fire and hatred and argument within the People, turn to them and guide them with logic and consensus and not through division and hatred, so that our nation will remain united, and hatred will not be increased among brothers,” the rabbi implored.