As the equal share of the burden movement continues to demonstrate in favor of universal military or national service for all Israeli citizens, Israel's Ultra-Orthodox continue to claim that Torah study helps the nation no less than the army, and were it not for prayer, the country would be in parlous state. The haredim recently noticed that their claims are backed up by a rather unexpected source.
In the past two weeks, the haredi press has trumpeted a recent "financial discovery": that the NIS 200 banknote bears a quote from former president Zalman Shazar about the importance of Torah study.
The Kikar Hashabbat site and the haredi newspaper "Family" both presented the quote as evidence that bears out their stance.
The proof is on the banknote, haredim who oppose the draft say
Indeed, the design of the NIS 200 bill features words from a speech Shazar made in 1949, in which the late president said that the Jewish people, even in its darkest periods, had always known to make Torah study mandatory for all children, "in every village in every country."
"Rich or poor, only children or large families, single or married – we must all carry the burden of Torah study," Shazar's quote reads.
In the weekend edition of Yated Ne'eman, the official media outlet of the Lithuanian haredi community, editor-in-chief Yitzhak Roth reiterated the haredi position and even hinted that Torah study was many times more important than military force.
"If the Jewish community exists here in the Holy Land, it is not because of military might, economic strength or the hundreds of thousands of goys that have come here. Torah study, and only Torah study, guarantees not only the spiritual but also the physical existence."