The coming days will not be too pleasant for Rabbi Melamed, but someone must stand up and set the record straight: We are dealing with an insignificant rabbi, who heads an insignificant (and some say failed) yeshiva.
The chaos he just created reinforced his leadership status, which is unjustified both in Torah and public terms. Defense Minister Ehud Barak apparently made an unavoidable decision, yet the big winner here is Rabbi Melamed.
After years of currying favor with his father and writing not-too-successful Jewish law columns in his mother’s paper, Rabbi Melamed finally was able to realize a dream: He made his own headlines.
To his regret, it did not happen as result of some kind of Torah-related or public achievement (his Halacha books don’t sell and are not highly regarded, despite the massive promotion they get through the Melamed family’s media outlets). Rather, he made headlines because he uttered some radical words.
Indeed, the Har Bracha yeshiva affair is like a chain accident where everyone gets hurt, with the exception of the person at fault for the accident.
Other hesder yeshivas are now forced to defend a man whose views and talents they do not appreciate; the Defense Ministry is forced into a confrontation with the best combat soldiers we have, the ones who report first for any reserve service or mission; and only Rabbi Melamed is sitting at his room, still not believing that all these good things are happening to him.
The Har Bracha yeshiva, which in recent years had been unable to draw a proper number of students and had been forced to launch all sorts of continuing education programs in order to justify its existence, will now enjoy a bear hug from rightist refuseniks and large budgets from delusional rightist groups.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Melamed will turn from the uncharismatic leader of second and third rate students into the rabbi of a bunch of ideological students, who will likely descend on his yeshiva, which will now be enjoying the kind of renewed prestige it would have never been able to elicit otherwise.
This is the bitter truth, dear readers. The death of Har Bracha as a hesder yeshiva gave Rabbi Melamed a new life.