Haredi orthodox Jewish men protest 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most respected spiritual leader of the
Ashkenazi Lithuanianharedi world, expressed his opposition on Tuesday to the
participation of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) youth in army programs and the
integration of secular studies within their Torah learning framework.
a letter to haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman, Elyashiv said that “the secret and
foundation of the Torah world and the community of those who fear God and live a
life of Torah and holy purity is through complete isolation from all aspects of
the secular world, and from those who have thrown off the yoke of
“We know how much the [spiritual] leaders of Israel struggled
against this phenomenon,” he continued.
“They warned that the purpose of
these programs is to change the spirit and essence of the haredi world and to
subvert it with all different types of other influences, nationalist and
enlightenment ones, which are not the values of our fathers.”
on the haredi community to follow only in the footsteps of ancient tradition and
not be enticed by the blandishments of the secular world.
educational institutions must be under the control of the rabbis, must be
directed by them and must exclude all paths that lead to national service,
secular studies or the army, even if they have a special programs for haredim.
Such a programs put haredim under the control and culture of secular
In response, Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the religious freedom
activist group Hiddush said that Elyashiv’s letter was further proof of the
crisis of lack of leadership in the haredi community.
“The zealotry and
poverty in haredi society threatens to bring disaster on the State of Israel,
and economic forecasts are pessimistic. But their number one leader is
trying to prevent yeshiva students [from] gaining an education and going out to
He added that he hoped that a new community of haredim which is
growing and developing will be able to deal with the crisis in the community of
those who only study Torah, and will lead them to combine their yeshiva studies
with national service and employment.