Jerusalem – Rav Ovadia Yosef To Yeshiva Students: Leave Israel To Avoid Being Drafted


FILE - Shas spirtual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is seen during a gather for a Shas party conference at the Jerusalem's International Convention Center.November 03, 2012. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 Jerusalem – During a lecture this past Friday in Jerusalem, Rav Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, said if Israel continues to draft yeshiva students into the IDF, the students may have no choice but to leave Israel in order to continue their studies elsewhere, according to a report in Maariv (

“The Torah is in danger,” said Rav Yosef. “How will they be Torah scholars if they are drafted into the army? We will God forbid have to leave the Land, to travel to outside the Land of Israel, in order to ensure that the yeshiva students will be free to study. We are in great trouble and grave danger. This is the time for each and every person to commit to vote for the parties that support the Torah.”

“There is a terrible edict hanging over our heads, God forbid,” Rav Yosef continued. “But we would have no choice but to leave the Land of Israel in order to ensure that the yeshiva students are not forced to fight. We are surrounded by enemies and haters, but for these evil ones who hate Torah, it doesn’t matter. All they [the groups demanding that Haredi students serve in the IDF] are interested in is punishing us and decreeing harsh and evil decrees against us, the Haredi yeshiva students. This is a terrible edict. We are in great trouble.

Who can tolerate such a thing for our bochrim to be conscripted into the army instead of learning Torah and becoming strong in Torah?”

“Therefore, rabbosi, do not be silent. I cannot sleep from this. I have great agitation over this matter. We are in great danger. Understand this situation well. These are men who do not know and do not understand. They walk in darkness. They don’t know what Torah is.”

Rav Yosef also had harsh words for those who plan to vote for non-Haredi political parties, saying, “They must be aware of the Judgment Day. What will they answer God on that day? God will tell them that they forsook the Torah and left it in the hands of evildoers. May God upset the plans of our enemies,” he concluded.

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  1. Ok so leave, and you want be taking welfare payments from the Government also. Learning Torah is a Mitzva, but defending Jewish lives is a bigger MItzva.

    • Without getting involved with the issue at hand, I just want to mention you are basically mistaken.
      Sure, a person is obligated to interrupt his Torah-learning if he is needed to save a life from imminent danger, but the “default setting” is, as the Talmud states: “Greater is the study of Torah, more than saving lives”.

      Which means, a serious Kolel man has a more important occupation than a Hatzoloh-member. (And that’s saying a lot!)

      • even if what your saying is true, and as you know there are many contradictory statements in gemorah,how many of those sitting and learn full time are actually serious students?

  2. fantastic news! But no country will take 60,000 able bodied young men who refuse to work to support themselves & insist on government hand outs & charity from those that do work.
    All the same, good bye & please don’t come back

    • Send them to the Charedi communities of Flatbush, Boro Park, Monsey, Williamsburg, Lakewood, and Passaic. Let’s see how quickly those Charedi communities will be willing to support 60,000+ non-workers and their families.

  3. There’s something very wrong with a philosophy that expects Israel to support them but they won’t support Israel. Who do they think will support these students when they leave Israel? I guess they’ll have to get jobs after all.
    One thing that has consistently bothers me about comments such as the one Rav Ovadia Yosef made about being surrounded by “haters of Torah”. I think the vast majority of people do not hate the Torah, they hate being taken advantage of by people who do not contribute to Israel by doing anything but sitting and learning the Torah. And they do not see a light at the end of the tunnel, they do not see these learners getting jobs and paying taxes and getting off the dole.

  4. Where are they going to move? Europe has enough low skilled welfare dwellers that they’re struggling to sustain as is. NY has enough medicaid and food-stamp load in Williamsburg and New Square. They should all move to Egypt land of their forefathers. But just like Maimonides, they will quickly learn to adapt to society and be productive while “studying Torah” at the same time.

    • you are an idiot. No Sefardi is waking up to anything satmar says. You are the only one sleeping. Sefardim are not and were never burnt out european ghetto jews. They daven for the jewish army on a constant basis, vote, and have their own legacies and gedolim that don’t believe the trash that every ashkenaz group says. satmar started maybe 300 years ago from jews probably pissed at reformers. sefardim go back over 1000 years ago. we are waiting for the satmars to wake up to the sefardi way of dealing with every jew as would the rif, rambam, ramban, ran, rabeinu yonah, rashba, beis yosef, alshich, abarbanel, tomer devorah, rabeinu ovadia mibartenura, rav moshe chaim luzzato, chida, or hachaim, ben ish chai, etc. We don’t need advice from any new crowd that pops up with a history like ours.

      • Sefardim have a wonderful rich history and I can understand that you get annoyed at some of the comments you read. But that is no reason to disparage yidden from other backgrounds, we too have thousands of years of history behind us and are hardly a “new crowd”. A little mutual respect, please.

      • You really don’t know Jewish history, or much of anything else for that matter. Reform started less than 200 years ago, and only in the mind of an uneducated sfardi boor such as you could chassidus start “from jews probably p—-d at” the movement that didn’t exist for another 100 years.

        • Uh seriously, I think you need to get off your soap box because you really aren’t saying anything with sense to it. Reform judaism as a group might not have been around, but non religious Jews were always around. And for some knowledge, the Sfardim came along WAY before chasidim

    • this is not about an awakening of any sort.this is about so called leaders not wanting to loose their power base,the boys sitting and maybe learning and all the goverment money that comes with that.

  5. I wonder where they would go, I heard Spain is offering citizenship to anyone who can trace their lineage to the exiled jews of the Spanish Inquisition, maybe the R’ Ovadias students will open a Yeshiva in Spain. I think Germany is also pretty easy for a jew to get citizenship, I would rule out the USA though, but there are options.

    It’s a very sad situation we are all in, I hope an amicable solution can be found, because if not, this will jus snowball.

  6. Just for your information, the Steipler served in the Russian army, and still managed to become a Talmid Chacham. There are plenty of wonderful Hesder boys who learn till 3 am every night, while still doing army service. As the famous saying goes, when you need something done, give it to a busy person.

  7. The IDF can barely protect anything. It can’t stop missiles from Gaza. It can’t stop Hizbullah from arming itself in the North. It can’t stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It can’t even develop the Iron Dome without extensive US handouts.

    If the last few battles in Gaza and Lebanon have taught us anything, it is that the IDF is severely limited in its operational capabilities and effectiveness.

    The only reason that the country is not inundated with terrorists and missiles is because G-d is watching his people. He protects them because there are people in Israel who study and practice his laws.

    • Furthermore, the only reason that we have not been fighting well is because we don’t believe enough in Hashem and bow to international preassure, instead of just bowing to Him. Also it is a huge sin to take land from yiden and when God sees this he gets angry at us and cause of that we must be punished. Now, finishing off on how I would be proud to send my husband to the army, there’s only two stipulations to that 1) they need to supply kosher food and I don’t mean Rabanute and 2) they need to stop taking away our lands (look what happened to Rabin and Sharron)

    • I think you’re looking at it backwards. My theory is that those that are sitting and learning aren’t doing a very good job, certainly not when you take into account that their studying hasn’t stopped the missiles from Gaza, hasn’t stopped Hezballah, isn’t stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, etc.

  8. How sad and simple minded the commentators of Vos iz Neias have become. 50 years ago when R’ Ahron Kotler left Europe to start a yeshiva in Lakewood no one understood what the Rebono Shel Olams plan was. I don’t think that ANYONE here has a right to judge what R’ Ovadia Yosef is saying – to you it sounds one way. To those that understand what the meaning of Das Torah is – it means more then draft dodging. Are you saying the same thing about Yeshivos that are predominantly America? They also get millions in government funding. What makes an israeli 18 year old a korban? It’s as idiotic as saying every citizen has to go to medical school- not everyone is cut out to be a soldier. Give them other tasks to do, other then combat , then we can talk about the mandatory draft.

      • So of the whole thing I wrote- that’s what you took out of it? NO! What I’m saying is what CHACHAM Ovadia is saying to his talmidim- the heat is too hot in the kitchen right now- so let’s get out, until this whole thing blows over. I don’t know what his reason is , and I don’t have to. He’s not saying fight the government he’s peacefully saying let’s remove ourselves from this poisonous situation. And in case you’re still reading- the issue was brought up about students in bar ilan deferring their service aswell because they were studying.

    • You bring up an interesting point when you say: “It’s as idiotic as saying every citizen has to go to medical school- not everyone is cut out to be a soldier.”

      Did it ever occur to you that not everyone is cut out to sit and learn for years on end, certainly not the thousands upon thousands that do so now?

  9. Seriously, he has a point. If every single man between 18 and 21 is in the IDF, who will be learning Torah? Can you imagine a society where there is not a single solitary man between 18 and 21 learning Torah?

  10. I would like someone to explain something to me because I don’t understand. First let me say that I am not showing disrespect to R’Ovadia or any Godol who is against army service for Yeshiva students, I am just looking for an explanation.

    If you study Torah, Neviim and Jewish history, you do not find any era before the creation of the State of Israel that anyone said that learning Torah exempts you from military service. In fact, the Torah gives specific exemptions. One of them is Hayorai V’Rach Halevov, which the Gemoro explains means those who are afraid to go into battle because they have sins. They are sent home. Those left on the battlefield are therefore the Yerei Shomayim, the Yeshiva boys.

    Look in T’Nach. Yehoshua (the epitome of the Yeshiva Bochur – “Na’ar Lo Yomush Mitcoh Ho’ohel”) fought in the military (don’t tell me the Maloch took him to task for not learning- all the Meforshim say that the Maloch criticized him for not learning at night, when there was no fighting).- In all of Jewish history, Yeshiva boys were never exempt from military service. What changed?

    • This was the case when the military was run by the rule of Torah, with a Kohen Mashuach Milchama, the Sanhedrin and the Urim V’Tumim guiding them. Not so the IDF, run by kofrim who distance themselves as much as possible from any shred of connection with the Torah – not referring now to the Hesder soldiers, mind you, but those who run the army and government. The wars of the times of the Nevi’im were guided by the word of Hashem, rather than those who desecrate Shabbos in order to expel Jewish settlers from their homes, and whose debased culture pervades the ranks of all the divisions. Whether, on an individual basis, some charedim should join the army might be up for debate, but to dare compare the IDF to the armies of Moshe, Yehoshua, Gid’on, Dovid and Shlomo is a travesty.

    • In the times of Yehoshua they did fight but keep in mind they also learned as you mentioned. You cannot compare both armies. The army today isn’t pro learning. Proof is – it’s the chiloni world that is complaining of the charedims learning. We should demand the whole army learn as they are demanding the charedim fight. Also there is a very strong chance we will lose Torah in the next generation if they all fight because when you don’t learn 1 day you won’t learn for 2 and Torah will be forgotten.
      Last thought is although in Yehoshuas time all the Jews fought, if you move down a few hundred years to the times of Chizkiyah you will see there was no fighting at all. Even during the shoftim there were a few chosen to fight but not every 18 year old. Hashem himself fought our wars because their level was lower than yehoshuas generation. They only prayed. Our generation is even less than chizkiyah. There would be no reason to fight if we all prayed for Hashems salvation.

      • That would be relying on a neis and that’s asoor. Mind you I have always respected Rav Ovadia Yosef, live in Israel and in a Charedi neighborhood. Earlier someone said we should do a 10% top Torah students get exempt and I agree with that. I don’t think being a draft dodger is good nor is foraaking Torah, but there is a happy median. In WWII my grandfather who studied Torah plenty, took it upon himself not only to enlist but to corral his brothers and friends to fight against Germany. Thereby he brought Torah and Torah scholars into the American army, never once did he forsake the Torah while he was in the army, just the opposite! I can tell you many stories of how he stayed true Torah, but that would be off topic and take up to much room. However, from one Israeli who would be proud to send her husband, a Charedi, from a Charedi neighborhood into the army knowing full well he would never forsake the Torah… there is a happy median…

      • Your entire theory relies on an untrue supposition. These men who sit and learn in a kollel are not the only people who sit and learn. Men of my father’s and my generation work during the day and learn at night and on weekends. Have no fear, Torah will not be forgotten because 18-21 year olds join the army.

  11. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים: רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, יְהִי כְבוֹד חֲבֵרָךְ חָבִיב עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁלָּךְ, וְאַל תְּהִי נוֹחַ לִכְעוֹס. וְשׁוּב יוֹם אֶחָד לִפְנֵי מִיתָתָךְ. וֶהֱוֵי מִתְחַמֵּם כְּנֶגֶד אוּרָן שֶׁל חֲכָמִים, “וֶהֱוֵי זָהִיר בְּגַחַלְתָּן שֶׁלא תִכָּוֶה,” שֶׁנְּשִׁיכָתָן נְשִׁיכַת שׁוּעָל, וַעֲקִיצָתָן עֲקִיצַת עַקְרָב, וּלְחִישָׁתָן לְחִישַׁת שָׂרָף, וְכָל דִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ

  12. One compromise might be to obtain an exact number of available positions needed on an annual basis for Rebbeim, Rabbonim, Mashigichim, Dayanim, etc. Then allow this number of exemptions. If number is 1,000, say, and 10,000 are competing, give tough exam on many dapim of gemara and shulchan oruch, siman by siman, Rashi and Tosfos by Rashi and Tosfos, etc. Top 10% of highest scorers, get exemptions. Just like in secular world, where admission to top programs is very competitive.

    But, aside from that, why does going to army not interfere with any other career, like, medicine, accounting, law, engineering? If they can become accomplished in their fields and serve in army, why can’t yeshiva bochurim do the same?

    • From your words I now understand the secular and the leftist mindset better: only those who want to occupy the “positions” of Rebbeim, Rabbonim, Mashigichim, Dayanim, etc., should learn Torah. (And goes without saying, the government will decide how many of those are needed every year). The rest – are just waste of time and resources. Thank you for explaining it.

  13. Torah is never in danger. Torah is perfect and permanent. The problem is that your paradigm is in danger and that is not exactly Torah. In fact, Torah education takes place in many ways throughout our lives. The IDF will provide many opportunities which will make many Torah lessons more obvious as we grow older. So Rabbi, you are not doing a service to your people.

  14. there was a very interesting letter by a reader named Abbe Dienstag of Woodmere, NY published in the Jewish Week 08/21/2012. I quote part of his letter here:

    “… quoting Rabbi Simcha Avraham Halevi of Bnei Brak on the exclusive efficacy of Torah study to ensure the survival of the Jewish people.

    There is a beautiful teaching of Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian (1876-1970), the famed spiritual instructor of the Kfar Chasidim Yeshiva, in the name of Rabbi Judah Loew, the Maharal of Prague (1520-1609), on the story of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites in the seventh chapter of the Book of Judges.

    God instructed Gideon, before proceeding to battle, to winnow his troops from 32,000 down to 300, and thereby limit his force only to those who had not worshiped the Canaanite deity Baal. The Maharal explains that God desires to bring about victory through an army consisting of those who would recognize divine providence in the success of their efforts (Lev Eliyahu, Volume 1, 96-97). If Rabbi Halevi and his colleagues in Bnei Brak truly believed in the power of Torah scholars to promote victory for the people of Israel, they should be clamoring to enlist.

  15. What probably bothers the chilonim even more, and rightly so is the fact that during the last y0 years when the yeshiva bochurim did not serve, was their any hakaras hatov or a kind word. All the chareidi leaders constantly cursed out the medinah, and came out with all kinds of holy reasons not to say the tefilos for the medina or IDF, not to sing hatikva, not to stand for the sirens on Yom Hazikaron and Yom Hashoah, and to generally spit in the face of the rest of the country.

    If during these years, they had taught menschlachkeit, and honored the chayalim and taught their children how fortunate we have a Jewish govt that let’s us learn and keep mitzvos, and work so hard to protect us, even putting their lives on the line. But chareidi politics was always so twisted and filled with hateful nonsense like the Zionists were responsible for the Holocaust, etc. Generations of Chareidi children imbibed this hate.

    The rest of the country is tired of it. The chareidim could have had their way, had they only spoken with kind refinement all these years.

  16. Not a good idea. You will have not enough taxpayers. Too many on the receiving end, They would have to stop giving people who are young and in kollel. Only the elderly would get. Or disabled. Young people must stay and serve their country..

  17. #32, you hit the nail on the head! My husband’s extended family is Israeli and not frum, and they say the same thing. Israelis hate being “freiers”. If the Chareidi velt had the courtesy to stop yammering and stand at attention when the siren commemorating fallen IDF soldiers rang out, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much antagonism now against the Chareidim. Also, how can we claim that we are saving more lives through learning Torah if we considered taking our annual bein hazmanim vacation in the middle of the Second Lebanon War? Boruch Hashem the war ended right before bein hazmanim and a tremendous chilul hashem was averted. We who “shukel” at the kotel should make a point of saying a mishaberach for captured or injured soldiers OUT LOUD! The relationship between the chilonim and chareidim in EY should be treated like a marriage: there must be give and take and consideration and good manners from BOTH sides, or else a divorce is likely, chas v’shalom.

  18. One more thing, how can anyone, especially someone as holy as Rav Ovadia Yosef tell people to leave Israel? If Torah is so important, and it 100% is, how can someone ask us to leave? What will become of our country? By leaving we will be giving it to chilonim, Arabs, or both. Then what will happen to our country? And why stop at the 18-21 age group, there are men in kollel way past that, should they make a stand with their brethren and leave too? Again, then what will happen to our country?

  19. To all who are very concerned about the safety of the country. The issue is not and had never been that there is a shortage in soldiers. The only issue is if to force the frum people to join the military or not, (to teach them to be normal or not). So, the whole argument if a ben torah is obligated to join the military to protect the country or not, is irrelevant. Now, if this is the situation, that the chareidim are not even needed in the army, there is not argument that they should rather sit and learn and protect the country with torah. Now, even if there would be a need for more soldiers, it is also clear that the bnei torah should be the last ones to be drafted because they sit and learn torah. After all were drafted and still there is a need for more in order to protect the country, then there starts the ‘sha’aleh’ if you’re supposed to draft them to the army since it is פקוח נפש, or they should protect us with the torah.
    Just use your brains not your hatred feelings!!!!

  20. Did anybody think why is there a hatred to the am haaretz against the talmud chacham? Don’t you say every morning ונהי’ אנחנו וצאצאינו כולנו יודעי שמיך ולומדי תורתיך לשמה? Aren’t you saying every morning לא ימושו מפיך ומפי זרעך ומפי זרע זרעך? Why do you all want to see the bne tora join the army? It is clip and clear that if they join the army the torah would be cut into pieces. Which frum Jew can take upon himself that responsibility? Why are you all people here trying to follow blindly the ugly and low thinking of the chiloinim who threw off themselves every connection to the torah? It’s a shame that there could be frum Jews with such thoughts in their heads.

  21. History lesson: Reb Yackov Kaminetzki said the same thing 30 years ago when they threatened to draft talmidim. It’s not about paying our dues and serving- it’s about destroying everything religious that isn’t cohesive with a secular lifestyle.


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