The most senior leader of the non-hassidic haredi world Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman said on Tuesday that yeshiva students should not go on summer trips or hikes in light of the ongoing military conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying that it would desecrate God’s name to do so at this time.
His comments follow the announcement by Hassidic groups on Tuesday that they would not be going ahead with summer vacation programs for yeshiva students and would instead tell them to remain at their studies in yeshiva.
According to several haredi media outlets, a close friend and learning partner of Shteinman’s wrote this week that the rabbi had said that it would be a desecration of Gods name if yeshiva students were seen on day trips, hiking, or otherwise enjoying themselves on vacation during such difficult days for the country.
It is widely argued in the haredi world that Torah study provides spiritual and even physical protection from harm and that this is the reason why yeshiva students should not be drafted into the army.
It is not yet known whether Shteinman will call on students to continue their studies as the hassidic community has done.
Hassidic groups announced on Tuesday that they would be suspending summer vacation plans for yeshiva students and the Council of Torah Sages of Agudat Yisrael, the umbrella hassidic movement published a formal announcement on Wednesday in the haredi media.
“Severe times have befallen the Jewish people in the Land of Israel in all of their dwellings,” the declaration reads. “It is a time of pain for Jacob the blood of Israel is being spilled, and threats and dangers cut through the air and under the ground.
“And now, the time requires us to strengthen ourselves in Torah and prayer and fear of heaven we all on the students of the holy yeshivas around the country to remain in the sanctuary of the yeshiva during the semester break... increasing and strengthening Torah study is the duty of the hour.”