Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

2 Tammuz 5760 - July 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UTJ Representatives Will Demand That the Law Be Amended

by Eliezer Rauchberger

At the Knesset's deliberation on the passage of the draft deferral law on Monday night (1 Tammuz), UTJ's representatives very clearly explained the importance of Torah study and stated that the existence of the Jewish Nation is dependent on Torah study. They noted that the law adds nothing new, but rather comes to anchor in law the situation which has existed since the establishment of the State. Alongside this, they made it clear that they will demand that changes be made in the law between the first reading, and the second and the third, due to their opposition to the fact that the law is referred to as a temporary one, which needs the approval of the Knesset every five years.

Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said in the Knesset plenum that the issue is not a new law or on a new social arrangement, but rather merely anchoring in legislation the situation which has prevailed since the founding of the State, due to the High Court's decision that the arrangement lacked a legal foundation. "From our perspective, our entire existence as a nation and as a society in the State of Israel is dependent only on the fact that the Torah has been transmitted from generation to generation, and there have always been Jews who have dedicated their entire beings to Torah study, to a Torah way of life."

Rabbi Ravitz stressed that for the chareidim, "ki heim chayeinu" is not a slogan, but rather the foundation of our lives and that we have no life other than Torah. He closed by saying that the those who study Torah have, throughout the generations, sustained the nation, and that this reality will continue, in spite of all the opponents.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni stressed the importance of Torah study and lomdei Torah throughout the history of the Jewish Nation, and noted that the chareidi sector and its representatives did not demand that this law be enacted, and that UTJ was forced to agree to legislation of which they don't fundamentally approve. "We did not ask for a change in the existing situation. Until today, the Security Minister was authorized to defer the drafts of reservists, athletes, Arabs and yeshiva students. We have not asked to change the existing situation." The change was only made as a result of the High Court ruling.

Rabbi Gafni enumerated the clauses he strongly opposes in the existing proposal: "I strongly oppose the concept of it being a temporary law which means that every five years, we will have to undergo more political extortion. Why do they want this legislation to be considered merely a temporary solution?"

Later on in his speech he referred to the decision year for yeshiva students who have in the meantime left their studies, saying that the chareidi representatives never asked for such a clause.

Rabbi Meir Porush protested the incitement campaign being led against the yeshiva students, and compared it to the campaign led by the current Prime Minster when he headed the opposition and pushed for the enactment of a law to draft yeshiva students. Rabbi Porush also criticized the various clauses in the law and said: "We haven't asked for a year for in which to decide. The secular, who thought that such a clause would add more manpower to the labor market, are those who asked for it. With us you have no problem. There should be no problem about this issue, neither for the Mafdal nor the secular Knesset members. We don't need that `decision' year."

In the end, Rabbi Porush said that all along he has been told that there is a need for an army due to the threat of war which looms over our heads, but that when peace will prevail it will be possible to speak about exempting the yeshiva students and limiting the draft. "But where is there war? With Egypt? With Jordan? With Syria? With Lebanon? Do the security needs rise because we have a lot of children? For 52 years we have been managing with that same arrangement. Have the security needs increased because I have 12 children? What's the meaning of this hypocrisy?"

Rabbi Litzman stressed that for the chareidim, Torah study and lomdei Torah serve the nation and the State just like soldiers. The bnei Torah protect the land. He also said: "We're not that satisfied with the law. We have reservations which we would like to present. We are certain that the we will correct them in the committee."

Rabbi Shmuel Halpert spoke about Yavneh and its sages, and noted that for thousands of years, the entire world understood that the Jewish Nation has no right to exist except on the merit of its Torah. Ben Gurion understood this and so did the all of the Israeli governments, and therefore they enabled yeshiva students to study Torah without disturbance. Like the other members of the party, he expressed his reservations over the fact that the law was passed as a temporary one. However, he added, we have no choice but to support it.

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