Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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3 AdarI 5760 - February 9, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Reserves General Moshe Nativ: Torah Study Must Not Be Stopped For Even a Day

by Eliezer Rauchberger

General (Res.) Moshe Nativ, former head of the Manpower Division of the IDF and currently a member of the Tal Committee to study the drafting of yeshiva students into the Israeli army, has recently stated, "After having visited a number of yeshivos, I realize that Torah study must not be stopped for even one day." His remarks were made at a meeting of the subcommittee of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that was also discussing the issue of drafting yeshiva students.

Nativ said that he has always been aware of the importance of the Torah world and of yeshiva students studying without disturbance. After visiting a number of yeshivos lately, however, he was deeply impressed by the meaning of the concept "Toraso umanuso." He noted that he had gained an understanding of how Torah study cannot cease even for one day since the entire existence of the Jewish Nation depends on it.

Chairman of the subcommittee MK Raanan Cohen (who is also the secretary of the Labor Party) said at the committee meeting that while it is true that the Tal Committee is dealing with the issue of the draft of yeshiva students, there is no doubt that the Knesset, which eventually pass any law in this area is the true "proprietor" in this case. For this reason, it had to hold deliberations on this subject in its committees in parallel with the Tal Committee.

MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz said that he hopes that the subcommittee as well as the Tal Committee will also accept the principle that yeshiva students who want to study Torah be allowed do so unconstrained by time limitations or quotas. "Torah study is a supreme value of the Jewish Nation and guarantees its existence," Rabbi Ravitz stressed.

MK Naomi Chazan of Meretz surprised the Knesset when she said that she agrees with the principle that one who studies Torah full time should not be drafted, and that there should be no time limits or quotas regarding the exemptions. However, she said that she agrees to this only on condition that exemptions are also granted to those refusing to serve in the defense forces for reasons of conscience.

Rabbi Ravitz replied that he has no problem supporting that policy, especially if it will enable yeshiva students to continue their studies unhindered.

The Tal Committee was formed by the current government as part of the original coalition agreement to find a consensus solution to the issue of drafting yeshiva students to the army after the High Court invalidated the arrangement that has been in effect for more than 50 years. Last December the Court held that the Minister of Defense is not legally empowered to defer the service of yeshiva students, even though that has been the arrangement since the founding of the State.

The Court gave the Knesset a year to pass legislation regulating the army service of yeshiva students. Just about a month later the Netanyahu government fell, and nothing was done on the matter before the May elections. In the subsequent negotiations with prime minister Barak about forming a government, UTJ made its sole condition for joining the government the immediate appointment of a commission that would study the issue of yeshiva students' army service and make a recommendation in time for passage before the Court's December deadline.

Barak did not form the committee for several months, and it was evident that by the time it started its work that it could not finish before the deadline. The government asked for, and received, an extension from the Court. The final report of the Tal Committee is expected soon.

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