Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, one of the most senior haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis in
the country, has issued a public statement declaring that no rockets will fall
on Bnei Brak and that residents of the city should not be afraid.
notice, published in the haredi daily Yated Neeman on Monday, cited the
declarations of Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz (known as the Hazon Ish), who
said in the early days of the state that there would never be any explosions in
his city of Bnei Brak.
“This will surely be fulfilled, and there is no
reason for fear,” Kanievsky wrote.
The rabbi has advised those who have
asked him whether to leave the south, to do so and go to Bnei Brak.
week, another senior haredi figure, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein – dean of the
renowned Ponevezh Yeshiva – told students that the merit of Torah study had
protected people during the first Gulf War when Iraq fired Scud missiles at the
Center of the country, and that Bnei Brak had not been hit at all.
damage can be done in a place where Torah is studied,” Edelstein said. He told
students to redouble their Torah-study efforts, as it was “the only thing that
saves and protects.”
However, Hiddush, a religious- freedom lobby group,
issued a statement denouncing the pronouncements coming from the haredi
“Bnei Brak and the other haredi cities have served for
decades as cities of refuge for tens of thousands of rabbis and yeshiva students
who evade military service and turn the Torah into ‘a shovel to dig with,’” said
Hiddush director Rabbi Uri Regev, quoting a Talmudic instruction not to take
advantage of the Torah for personal benefit.
“Operation Pillar of Defense
illustrates this perfectly,” he continued.
“In the past, the haredi
community had [the] little bit of tact to lower its profile during times of war,
and it’s a shame this wisdom has been forgotten. It can only be hoped that after
the operation in Gaza, the public discussion on mandatory military service will