Barak reinstates Har Bracha as high yeshiva, not ‘hesder'

Defense minister's decision comes after yeshiva head refuses to retract statements supporting insubordination in army in some circumstances.

Barak speech serious 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool )
Barak speech serious 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool )
In what seems a significant move to bury the hatchet, the Defense Ministry on Monday said they have decided to recognize Yeshiva Har Bracha as part of the institutions where students can defer military service in order to learn Torah.
In December 2009, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced the yeshiva would no longer be part of the arrangement, or hesder, under which men combine 16 months in the army with close to four years studying in yeshiva.
Barak’s decision came after the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, refused to retract statements he made supporting insubordination in the army under certain circumstances. Melamed also refused summons to attend a hearing at Barak’s office.
Following Barak’s move, the yeshiva advised its students who wish to remain under the arrangement to move to the Elon Moreh yeshiva.
In May, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) sent Barak a letter asking “if and how” it might be possible to reinstate Har Bracha’s status as part of the hesder arrangement.
On Monday, a letter from Barak’s office informed Herschkowitz that the yeshiva’s status has been altered to enable its students to put off their military service for as long as they are studying Torah, which is not the “hesder” arrangement, but one of a “high yeshiva,” that some institutions in the national religious sector subscribe to.
Herschkowitz said he was happy over Barak’s decision, and hoped that soon it would be recognized as a hesder yeshiva, as in the past.
“Insubordination in the IDF is unacceptable, but collective punishment is not the solution to it,” he added.