When haredim saved Jerusalem, despite the rabbis

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May 20, 2013 18:54

This really happened, in 1948. But today, the rabbis hold greater sway. And therein lies the problem




Illustrative photo - Yeshiva students study

young haredis studying 311. (photo credit:Ariel Jerozolimski)

Unsurprisingly, last week’s column upset many haredim. Before responding to some of their comments, I want to tell a story, from Rabbi Shlomo Goren’s autobiography:


During the War of Independence, Goren, the IDF’s first chief rabbi, was summoned one Friday morning by the army’s commander in Jerusalem. Army intelligence had just learned that Jordanian tanks would invade central Jerusalem at 11 A.M. on Saturday. Jerusalem had no weaponry that could stop a tank column, the commander said, so the only chance was to dig trenches to bar their path. But since Jordan was shelling the area constantly by day, they could only be dug after sundown, thereby violating Shabbat. Moreover, his soldiers were all fighting at the front and couldn’t be spared, so the only men available were haredi yeshiva students who hadn’t enlisted. Could Goren recruit them?

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