Bennett pays a visit to prestigious haredi yeshivot

In attempt to allay fears, Bayit Yehudi chairman tells Jerusalem yeshivot that national service and Torah study can be combined.

February 19, 2013 01:47
2 minute read.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)


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Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett paid a visit to two of the most prestigious haredi yeshivas in the world on Monday, in an attempt to allay the fears of the ultra-Orthodox community that he is working against them, as well as to send a message that national service and Torah study can be combined.

Bennett visited the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood and met with the leading rabbis of the institution and several students, in order to better acquaint himself with the haredi community, the Bayit Yehudi leader said.

Bennett also sat with the dean of the Mir Yeshiva Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Finkel to learn about the daily schedule of the yeshiva students and the yeshiva more broadly, which counts more than 7,000 students learning in its study halls.

“The haredim are our brothers, not an enemy, not an opponent and Torah study is a national interest of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish people,” Bennett told the press outside the Yeshiva.

“We need to strengthen the Torah world, but also to find the right path to face the heavy economic and security burdens of the State of Israel [which entails] certain changes,” he continued. “Everything will be done with dialogue and through the understanding that we’re brothers.”

Bennett also noted that “a large sector of the Jewish people have proved that is possible to combine Torah study and military service.”

During Bennett’s visit to the Mir, a small group of protesters voiced their opposition to the Bayit Yehudi leader’s visit.

Bennett also visited the renowned Hebron Yeshiva in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood where he also met with rabbis and students of the yeshiva.

Speaking later in a Knesset faction meeting, Bennett said that the term “equality in the burden of service” should also relate to the “burden of Torah,” as well as that of work and military service.

He also stated that “the current situation cannot continue,” especially in light of the greatly increasing size of the haredi population which, he said, necessitates change from the current reality.

Speaking in the Knesset plenum, co-Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai called on Bayit Yehudi MKs not to be held captive by its informal agreement with Yesh Atid that neither party not to enter government without each other.

“Torah study is what has protected the Jewish world and allowed for the establishment of the state,” Yishai said.

He also called for a solution on the issue of haredi enlistment to be reached through agreement “to avoid tearing the nation apart.”

Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman challenged Yishai by citing famous rabbinic personalities of the past who combined their Torah study with professional careers, and reminded the Shas leader that the Talmud states that “Torah study without work will be nullified and leads to sin.”

Yishai said in response that anyone learning full time in yeshiva should not be disturbed.

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