The secretary-general of the Council of Torah Sages, Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein,
sent a letter on Tuesday to the deans of haredi yeshivot directing them to
instruct their students not to sign any form that would obligate them to enlist
in the IDF.
Following the expiration on August 1 of the “Tal Law” that
provided a legal framework for yeshiva students to indefinitely defer military
service, ultra- Orthodox men reaching the age of 18 may no longer legally avoid
Until now, a haredi male approaching age 18, like all
Jewish Israeli males, would receive a tzav rishon (first draft notice) summoning
him to present himself at an IDF enlistment office for processing in the first
stage of being drafted.
A haredi male wishing to enter full-time yeshiva
study would declare he wanted to take advantage of the Torato omunato (Torah is
his profession) option available through the Tal Law framework, allowing him to
defer his military service every year.
This option is no longer
available, however, so the rabbinical leadership is especially concerned that
haredi youth will inadvertently enlist or be unwittingly drafted.
accordance with the instructions of our revered rabbis of the Council of Torah
Sages in their meeting on Monday, all yeshiva deans must instruct their students
not to sign any document that may obligate them regarding enlistment,”
Rubinstein wrote in his letter.
At present, haredi men are apparently not
proceeding to the examination and sorting stage of the enlistment process
despite the expiration of the Tal Law. Currently, the 1986 Defense
Service Law is operative and requires the enlistment of all 18 year old Jewish
However, the IDF is not equipped for the influx of the thousands
of full-time haredi yeshiva students who are now obligated to
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed the army to draw up,
by the beginning of September, plans to increase the numbers of haredim being
drafted into the army and expand the tracks appropriate to the haredi lifestyle
to “reflect the High Court ruling, the needs of the IDF and its values, and
increase the share of the military burden.”
Separately, the High Court of
Justice said it would consider next month the merits of an appeal seeking to
halt transfers of government funds to yeshivot, which until now have operated
within the Tal Law framework.
The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying
organization submitted a petition to the High Court demanding an injunction to
halt the transfers, claiming they are no longer legal following the expiration
of the Tal Law. According to Hiddush these funds amount to NIS 30 million every
month and more than NIS 400 million per year.
Hiddush deputy director
Shahar Ilan said he was pleased that the High Court would be dealing with the
issue in short order, but added that he expected the government to immediately
stop the transfers “since they are in contravention of the law.” Ilan also
leveled criticism at the Council of Torah Sages for its statement Monday night
that it was “frightened and alarmed” over the current “wave of incitement” it
said the haredi community is facing over the issue of IDF
“Leaders should lead, not be afraid,” Ilan said, adding that
the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who died last month, had been
catastrophic for the haredi community.
“He said no to everything. This is
not leadership but things won’t change until the senior rabbinical leadership
changes its stance.”