Gedolei Yisroel are enlisting the help of chareidi activists and the public for a campaign to resist the renewed decree that seriously threatens to draft yeshiva students into the IDF.
Chareidi representatives are laying plans for public and political actions to block the decree. At an emergency meeting held last Sunday at the home of HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva said, "Without Torah we are not living...In each and every generation attempts have been made to do away with the Torah, and HaKadosh Boruch Hu helped. This time, too, HaKadosh Boruch Hu will help make Torah study possible."
Last week the High Court published its decision to accept petitions against the Tal Law, which had allowed exemptions for full-time yeshiva students, and determined that the current law could not be extended. Even before the recent Court decision its political fate was not certain.
The move is the latest in efforts to place the issue on the public agenda, although the general arrangement of a draft deferral for Torah study has been in place since the state was founded. Over the years the Torah world has stood firm against any attempt to budge from the arrangement to exempt yeshiva students from military duty.
In the summer of 5758 (1998), when judicial and political figures tried to challenge the exemption, announcing they would "find ways to reduce the number of full-time yeshiva students," HaRav Shach issued a call to resist the move even with mesirus nefesh if necessary and spoke out on the issue with visitors on close terms with him, asking them to bring the matter to the public's attention.
In Iyar 5758, from his sickbed, he said, "Rabbosai, be aware that it is absolutely forbidden to go into the army, and you must make every effort to resist this. Every father must safeguard and supervise his children, because it is strictly forbidden to go to the army. Publicize in my name and in everybody's name that it is prohibited to send children to the military, and they cannot be allowed to take them. I don't have the strength to speak any more. Publicize it widely in my name and you can put it in the paper."
The leading roshei yeshivos and poskim, including HaRav Eliashiv shlita, backed HaRav Shach's remarks at the time, issuing public notices. "The Torah study of full-time yeshiva students is one of the pillars of Torah and of the Jewish religion," they wrote, "and the scheme to induct them is an act of uprooting Torah. No allowances can be made for negotiations or compromises of any kind on this issue."
In a separate letter, gedolei Torah from the U.S. also spoke out unambiguously, saying there is no room for compromise in this matter.
The result of all the controversy at the time was, eventually, the Tal Law that was in effect for 10 years and was struck down by the High Court.