Recent upheavals at the influential haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman, official
mouthpiece of the Degel Hatorah faction of the ultra-Orthodox community, appear
to have been consolidated with new management taking control of the
Although the old management team took legal steps to prevent their
ouster, haredi public opinion and the rabbinic leadership seems to be shoring up
the new administration.
Ten days ago, the newspaper’s outgoing director
Rabbi Yaakov Labin and incoming director Shimon Glick filed mutual complaints in
the Ramat Gan police station, accusing each other of assault during an incident
at Yated Ne’eman’s offices on Jabotinsky Street in Bnei Brak.
of the confrontation are disputed, but center around the fight for control of
The power struggle at Yated Ne’eman is a smaller battle in
the broader fight for leadership of the non-hassidic Lithuanian stream of the
haredi community – between Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman and Rabbi Shmuel
Auerbach – brought about by the ongoing hospitalization and incapacitation of
the unquestioned leader until now, Rabbi Yosef Shalom
Shteinman’s supporters have long resented Yated Ne’eman’s
treatment of the rabbi, and the board and editorial inclination was more
favorable towards Elyashiv and, more recently, Auerbach.
nonprofit organization – which controls Yated Ne’eman – succeeded in appointing
Glick, a millionaire businessman and close supporter of Shteinman, as director
of the newspaper.
Labin and veteran editor of the paper Nati Grossman –
both of whom were appointed by the revered Degel Hatorah and Yated Ne’eman
founder Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach – were ousted, despite physical and legal
attempts to defy the new regime. (Degel Hatorah and the hassidic Agudat Yisrael
together make up United Torah Judaism.) In last Tuesday’s edition of Yated
Ne’eman, the newspaper, under the new management, published a letter from Rabbi
Haim Kanievsky, perhaps the third-most senior rabbi of the non-hassidic stream
and sonin- law of Elyashiv, declaring Shteinman to be the new leader of the
“The leadership of the generation is passed on
today to our master the revered Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman, whose every
deed is for the sake of heaven, and we have now merited to put upon him the
leadership of the Yated Ne’eman newspaper,” Kanievsky wrote.
a close associate of Auerbach called on all members of the haredi community to
cancel their subscription to the paper, although this appeal has met with little
Until February, 102-year-old Elyashiv was the undisputed leader
of the community, but he has been hospitalized for five months, the majority of
which he has spent in critical condition.
The two rabbis vying to replace
him as the spiritual leader of the community are Shteinman, 98, considered a
relative moderate, and Auerbach, 85, who is closer to Elyashiv than his elder
rival and considered to be more hardline.
Until now, Yated Ne’eman’s
board adhered strictly to the direction and positions of Elyashiv, and of late,
But with Elyashiv in critical condition in the capital’s Shaare
Zedek Medical Center, Shteinman has taken on the mantle of leadership of the
Lithuanian haredi stream.
He has convened meetings of top rabbinical and
political figures regarding key issues in the ultra-Orthodox world, and has held
meetings with leading politicians such as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and
Interior Minister Eli Yishai to address matters such as drafting haredim into
military and national service.
Shteinman, based in Bnei Brak, is seen as
a pragmatist in the haredi world on issues such as joining the workforce and
participating in national service.
Despite his recent opposition to an
obligatory draft for haredi yeshiva students into national service, Shteinman
supported the establishment in 1999 of the Nahal Haredi IDF battalion for
ultra-Orthodox soldiers and sent representatives to provide input for the Tal
Committee, which formulated the “Tal Law” 10 years ago, seen then as anathema in
the haredi world.
Auerbach, who lives in Jerusalem, is perceived to be
more extreme and less compromising on these critical issues.