Letter from Rav Shteinman
Led by gedolei Yisroel thousands of bnei Torah
took part in a protest rally on Sunday to decry the serious
breach at special education schools in the ban against Sherut
Beis Medrash Beis Yisroel in Jerusalem's Ezras Torah
neighborhood was packed from wall to wall with bnei
Torah headed by roshei yeshivos, rabbonim and
dayonim who were shocked at the very idea of
legitimizing the program by accepting the assistance of
Sherut Leumi volunteers in chareidi special-ed classrooms.
Gedolei Yisroel banned Sherut Leumi outright in 5713
(1953) and again in 5732 (1972). The ban has been upheld
since then and today's gedolei hador determined even
making use of Sherut Leumi workers falls within the scope of
The gathering opened with the recitation of Tehillim
led by HaRav Tzvi Shapira and then HaRav Tzvi Roth led
Before introducing the other speakers Rav Avrohom Yosef
Lazerson, one of the heads of Chinuch Atzmai, gave an
emotionally charged talk about the goals of the gathering
called by maranan verabonon, saying we should lament
that our generation is compelled to speak out against the
severity of the prohibition against Sherut Leumi and the
threat it poses to our camp, adding that recent developments
are a part of government efforts to chip away at the
foundations of Torah-based education.
The first speaker was HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, who noted the
Ramchal says man remembers physical things very well, whereas
spiritual things are easily forgotten and lost. "Right after
the Holocaust, when HaKodosh Boruch Hu left us
gedolei Torah such as the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rov
and others, the Chazon Ish determined [that Sherut Leumi] was
a matter of `yeihoreig ubal ya'avor.' He was the heart
of Am Yisroel, a heart who knew the inner workings of
the soul, and he had a feel for the heart of Klal Yisroel.
There are always forces working toward indifference,
toward breaches. Even if they do not necessarily cause
destruction, the breach itself is a terrible thing. Even if
it is not a movement, it is destructive and must be opposed.
All the more so when there is a movement to breach the
rampart, a breach created by our wayward brothers who lead
themselves astray, but they are [also] rising up against us
to destroy us and any breach [cannot be tolerated in the
"We cannot yield. Every breach has a certain sophistication.
But this is in matters so serious they almost need not be
discussed. Yet the present circumstances make it imperative
to arouse the public and cry out against this to keep it at
bay. This is a dreadful matter. We will be as courageous as
it takes. The dreadfulness of this matter need not be
explained to the holy public. This is a dreadful matter.
Beware. Chachmei Yisroel warned against the pursuit of
money, which one perhaps does not realize, and [therefore] he
makes a hole in the boat and brings destruction unto Klal
Yisroel. This gathering is in the Name of Heaven. We will
say the whole truth and without a doubt this will have a
greater impact than anything else."
HaRav Menachem Mendel Mendelson, the gavad of
Komemiyus who together with his father fought battles for
chareidi Jewry 50 years ago—especially against Sherut
Leumi—began his speech by citing the verse, "Ki
seitzei lamilchomoh al oyvecho" (Devorim 20:1 and
"There are two types of war here," he explained. "The
Chovos Halevovos and the Alshich wrote about a
pious man who met people coming back from war and said, `You
have returned from the little war, now prepare for the big
war, the war of the yetzer and its legions.' Who would
have imagined that after 50 years we would have to fight this
war? There is a war that is large in scope, in quantitative
terms, but it is really a small war. Chareidi Jewry merited a
reprieve from this war in 5715  and in 5732  it
fired up again and then died down. But now this really is the
"One of the heads of the education system met me and said he
heard that one of the people we are currently fighting
against told him that it was very cruel for us to give up
tens of thousands of shekels every year. This is the great
indifference spreading through the public today."
HaRav Yosef Binyomin Wosner read aloud a letter from his
grandfather, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner.
HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kamenitz,
read aloud a letter from HaRav Meshulom Dovid Soloveitchik,
rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk.
HaRav Eliyohu Raful, also among the campaigners against
Sherut Leumi 50 years ago at the behest of gedolei
Yisroel, said that since the Destruction of the Temple it
appears doubtful whether gedolei Yisroel have launched
another war of yeihoreig ubal ya'avor. "This campaign
is different from all the other campaigns thus far. Until now
we fought against people from outside the camp. Today it is a
war against people from our own ranks who have decided to
save money. What stupidity and madness this is—to turn
to girls who agree to transgress yeihoreig ubal
"A few years ago this began a bit — here one girl, here
another — all in secrecy. I once heard a remark by one
of gedolei Yisroel who said that if the Torah says he
who strikes his fellow in secrecy is cursed all the more so
he who strikes Klal Yisroel in secrecy and,
Rachmono litzlan, there are now hundreds of girls in
our institutions. What a terrible instance of striking one's
fellow in secrecy this is."
HaRav Yosef Chaim Kopshitz, who came to the gathering from
the home of Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita, said that
Maran asked to convey a message in his name regarding the
severity of this breach as he stated in a letter published a
few days previously and that a staunch battle must be fought
against this dangerous development.
HaRav Kopshitz then read a brief letter by HaRav Shteinman,
which simply stated, "The prohibition against Sherut Leumi
must not be breached."
HaRav Kopshitz went on to cite the mishnah in Yuma
about the shluchei beis din who warn the Kohen
Godol not to change anything the beis din told him.
"Gedolei Yisroel are envoys of the great Kadmonim who
warned us many years ago the prohibition against Sherut Leumi
falls under the category of yeihoreig ubal ya'avor.
The Kadmonim held that nobody can alter their opinion [on
Shortly before the gathering came to a close HaRav Michel
Yehuda Lefkowitz arrived to show his support. His letter was
read aloud by HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bournstein.
Letters by HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Gershon Edelstein
were also presented.
At the conclusion of the gathering Rav Lazerson issued a
stirring call to all those who had accepted volunteers at
their respective institutions to heed the outright ban by
gedolei Yisroel shlita against the use of Sherut Leumi