More than 10,000 people attended a reception rally organized by the Eda Haredit faction on Sunday for the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Teitelbaum.
The rabbi, one of the two leaders of the world's biggest Hasidic community, arrived in Israel to participate in his granddaughter's wedding in Beit Shemesh, but thanks to the perfect timing, the visit provided a rare opportunity for an anti-election
demonstration and a protest against the attempts to draft yeshiva students
to the "Zionist army."
The event began with a procession of thousands of small children wearing their best clothes and holding welcome signs. The Rebbe, who was visiting the home of Eda Haredit leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss in Mea Shearim, joined them on Shmuel Hanavi Street and continued to the central rally at the Shabbat Square.
Satmar rally, Sunday night (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The masses of Hasidim – men, children and very few women – surrounded the Rebbe in an attempt to see him, but order was maintained. The sound system played songs stating, "Long live our master, teacher and rabbi, the righteous of our generation," while ushers called on "pious women" to gather in a specific area, far from the stage and the "center of activity" – in order to "maintain the event's holiness."
The highlight of the evening was the ardent speech of the Rebbe, who spoke in Yiddish about the prohibition against enjoying the Zionist state or taking part in the elections and said that in regards to this matter there was need for "devotion."
"The disease of Zionism has spread, and it must be fought in every way possible," said Rabbi Teitelbaum, quoting rabbis and rebbes of the recent generations who spoke out against Zionism. "Every place Zionists arrived at, they created horrible destruction," he added.
About a month ago, Satmar sources stated that they would pay any Israeli promising not to vote.
On Sunday, the Rebbe said that "there is no stricter prohibition in the Torah than participating in the elections. The ideas of Zionism include all the heresy and apostasy. Refuting the decree of the Diaspora, Providence and the coming of the Messiah…
"The government is apostasy and heresy, and a revolt against God's divinity," he added, "and those who help enter the government are part of it, accessories. This must not be done under any circumstances."
'Go to prison rather than compromise' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Rebbe was accompanied by some 2,000 Hasidim from the United States and Europe, and planned to hand out $6 million to institutions which do not receive governmental budgets as he had promised last month.
"One mustn't ask for money from the State," he ruled. "Yeshiva students should go to jail rather than agree to compromises. The real fighters are those who give up on the state budgets and are willing to live in poverty."
Satmar rebbe speaks during rally (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"How can a Jew who stood on Mount Sinai violate the oath he committed to there? What the haredi representatives are doing at the Knesset is a great defamation of God. A great destruction. There is no greater defamation of God… It leads to the hatred of Jews in the entire world."
The rebbe also slammed the government seeking to draft yeshiva students, saying that "the draft decree aims to make us forget all the other troubles Zionism has inflicted on us. We must fight it uncompromisingly so that such ideas won't even cross their minds."
He referred to the State of Israel and its Zionist residents as "the generation's Amalek" and likened haredi Knesset members to "Pharaoh's parliament."
"The Zionists came from the seed of Amalek. There has never been such a sect that caused so much damage to the Jewish people… Seclusion saved Jerusalem from being the remote city, like all other cities swept away by the impure state…
'All-out war against Zionists' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"We did not see in the entire Torah a greater offense than voting in the elections, which cancels the entire Torah," he added. "I am certain that all the rabbis who permitted (voting for Knesset) in the past, would admit today that they made a fatal mistake.
"We see the activity of the haredi representatives, which is against the Torah. The Israeli parliament is like Pharaoh's parliament. Whoever votes in the elections sends representatives to this Amalek parliament… This is a riffraff government. The Zionists are real Amaleks, and therefore every Jew must engage in an all-out war against them."
Satmar against haredi MKs (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
In the midst of the rally, United Torah Judaism leaflets were cast from one of the rooftops as an act of provocation against the protestors boycotting the elections. Several minutes later, leaflets against haredi representatives in the Knesset were thrown from a nearby rooftop.
The rally's host stressed the message against participating in the elections and also slammed the haredi MKs, who he referred to as "collaborators."
"We are not afraid of those who are against the Torah, but of those who are allegedly trying to help the Torah – but not through holy means," he said.
Rabbi Moishe Sternbuch, one of the faction's leaders, said that "if the Rebbe came to see how the Torah and yeshiva world flourishes – there is a lot to see. But in terms of Yiddishkeit and the wars with the Zionists, the situation is getting harder every day."