The senior rabbi of the Lithuanian haredi Orthodox, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, has announced that yeshiva students should not agree to enlist in National Service.
The rabbi’s decision, quoted Monday in the haredi daily newspaper Yated Ne’eman, comes a day after Israel’s Cabinet approved a temporary law that would allow yeshiva students to perform national service in place of the army.
“We must warn publicly against this serious and dangerous phenomenon, which only aims to destroy the foundations of our existence, against the essence and mission of a yeshiva student to devote his life to studying Torah,” the newspaper quoted Shteinman as saying.
The Cabinet’s decisions and similar actions are “harming the foundations of Judaism,” he reportedly said.
Steinman’s statements appeared in an article inside the newspaper as opposed to in a signed statement on the front page, as they usually do, the Jerusalem Post reported, showing that the rabbi may be trying to walk a fine line between his own convictions and those of rabbis who have taken an even harder stance.
Shteinman has previously backed the formation of an all-haredi army brigade, and the Tal Law exempting yeshiva students from army service, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Shteinman’s predecessor as leader of the Lithuanian haredi Orthodox movement, the late Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, also rejected national service and other programs geared at the haredi community.