The Vizhnitzer Rebbe,
Rabbi Yisroel Hager, has called on yeshiva students not to report to IDF
recruitment centers upon receiving their initial draft orders inviting them to begin the IDF screening process. The rabbi said he himself would take responsibility for the mutiny.
The Hasidic leader, who heads one of Israel's largest haredi communities, joined Lithuanian Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach,
who released a similar order a few months ago.
"I heard about a number of alarming incidents happening there (at the induction centers), and I instruct everyone: Do not report - not to your initial draft order, not to the second one and not to the third one," the Rebbe said to his disciples in a speech he gave Saturday in Bnei Brak. "I have a responsibility for all of Israel, not just the Viznitzer hasidim, and I say publish these words as my own."
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe says so (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
To those afraid of the repercussions of breaking the law, he said: "Any young man who refuses to report should tell them that the Vizhnitzer Rebbe told him to do so. I take full responsibility, and if they want they are welcome to come and arrest me. I am not afraid of jail, and if it is required we will go singing and dancing. This is a horrible edict (to enlist haredi students) and we must stand as a strong wall against it."
The Rebbe, who heads one of Israel's largest Hasidic sects,
echoed in his words those of another important haredi leader, Lithuanian Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who also called on his students not to report for the IDF screening process and generally not to cooperate with IDF officials. A similar call was also published by the Ponevezh Yeshiva.
The comments came after the haredi community began to come to grips with the fact that the IDF is quite serious in its intent to enlist haredi men.
The new understanding seems to have stemmed from the rigor of the IDF screening process, which according to haredi students, has required them to undergo "degrading" physical examinations, sometimes even at the hands of women.
Haredim at IDF recruitment center (Photo: Yuval Chen)
Since the expiration of the Tal Law
last August, which canceled yeshiva students' special status, thousands have been called to the mandatory IDF screening process, a prerequisite to actual army service.
A large number have reported for examination, despite their refusal to serve in the arm, while haredi leaders worked behind the scenes to ensure that none of the students will actually be forced to serve. In the mean while the rabbis have called for mass absenteeism.
IDF sources have promised that they are currently working to ensure, among other things, that certain physical examinations will be undertaken only by male officials.