Monday, June 19, 2017

Letter From Leading American Roshei Yeshiva Re: Giyus Bnei Yeshivos in Erretz Yisroel

 To: Maran Hagaon Hagadol Rav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman shlita, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsh shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slobodka, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Dov Landau shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slobodka, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Gershon Edelstein shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ponovezh,  Hagaon Hagadol Rav Aviezer Piltz shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Tifrach, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Dovid Cohen shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ateres Yisroel, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Boruch Weissbaker shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Beis Matisyahu, Hagaon Hagadol Rav Moshe Barzovsky shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slonim,

In representation of the Olam HaTorah here in the USA, we hereby address the Roshei Yeshivah and Torah leaders in Eretz Yisrael,
The bleak situation regarding the drafting of bnei yeshivah [into the IDF] has been brought to our attention by many roshei Yeshivah, specifically of the Sephardic community. Those who approached us supplied detailed explanations and examples regarding the enactment of new [harsh] laws, and the enforcement thereof. These [facts] have nothing to do with the sharp differences of opinion amongst the various chareidi factions in Eretz Yisrael. 
We will detail several points, in short.

1. A grave danger looms, because within several years, the entire military deferment granted to yeshivah students will expire. [Even during the current so-called “transition period”, we see the conscription of many yeshivah students.]  The clock is ticking, with no salvation in sight. It makes no sense to delay dealing with the crisis until the axe falls heavily upon us.

2. There is now a large quota that the chareidi community must fill [from our yeshivos], so that the remainder of yeshivah students can receive an exemption. This is just during the transition period. Soon enough, they fully intend to draft virtually all yeshivah students. [The very fact that they named this phase “the transition period” is a very clear indication of their ominous intent and plans.] 

3. Thousands of talmidim are currently entangled in legal or bureaucratic messes [as we have verified]. For example, the new laws make it difficult for a talmid to earn verification that he is indeed a yeshivah student. These talmidim live in fear of being drafted, serving jail time, or any of the other threats made against them. [Some of us have seen the case-files of several of these boys. A group of Sephardic community leaders have compiled files containing roughly 1200 such bachurim.] True, with Hashem’s help, there are some new, helpful laws that ease the situation at the induction centers. They now allow talmidim to appear in large groups, give them only a minimal health screening, and so on. The overall chareidi community may have it easier than before in this particular regard. Yet, thousands of talmidim are getting entangled.

4. Currently, these bachurim have no one to turn to for help. Until recently, various askanim were able to assist, but that is no longer the case. The askanim simply have no solutions to deal with even a fraction of the constantly changing laws.We are all witness to the ever-tightening noose around the necks of those studying Torah. Each day, askanim throw up their hands in despair, giving up on tens of cases of bachurim in trouble with the law. These boys reported to the induction centers as required, and each found himself entangled in a mess for one reason or another.
5. Several roshei yeshivah have told us. that many bachurim have recently been enlisted in the army.These are boys, who would have never been enlisted, before the new laws and system were enacted,. Already, too many good bachurim from our ranks have been severed from us, serving in the army. Many of these new laws are aimed at denying bachurim their status as yeshivah students.

6. Many yeshivos and kollelim do not meet the new requirements to qualify as proper Torah institutions. All talmidim of these mosdos are now in danger of being drafted.

7. The government is placing intense pressure on yeshivos and their leaders to join forces with them. The government decides who constitutes a proper yeshivah student and what constitutes a proper kollel, worthy of a deferment. 

8. There are government agents who stalk yeshivah students, convincing them to join the army. They prey especially on those most vulnerable and defenseless, such as boys from poverty stricken homes or weak family structures. 

The above points have created a situation whereby many bnei Torah - particularly of Sephardic descent - who otherwise would be filling the batei midrash, are now enlisted in the army, as their ruchniyus is failing. 

Another point we’d like to add, is that the newspapers and other avenues of publicity have not explained to talmidim how to best avoid these dangers. Talmidim should be trained how to proceed [when dealing with their army reporting]. They should also be aware of the great spiritual dangers involved, [should they become ensnared in the government’s traps]. 

About 3 years ago, when the crisis began, we were informed that negotiations were in progress between the chareidi community and the government, and that matters would straighten out, with Hashem’s help. We are certain that the askanim involved then did their very best. However, the facts are before us. It is Summer 5777, and there is no solution in sight. Large segments of the Torah world are being cut away. [ With Hashem’s help, the Torah world thrives, and It is possible that we don’t see any losses in the big and well-known yeshivos. Our worry is for all the other, smaller yeshivos, and their talmidim. Additionally, if any talmid experiences a short period of recession, he is at risk of getting snatched away then, and lost to us forever. The danger is immense.]

Therefore, we turn to you, the roshei yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, to join forces and cry out as one that this cannot continue. Develop a strategy to combat the danger and to wage a battle to ensure the undisturbed continuity of the Torah world. With this in place, the Torah community will have the leverage and power to stop all this evil from befalling us. To the best of our understanding, this is not a matter that hinges on the various opinions… Everyone is obligated to rise and help. If there will be a cohesive group of the entire Israeli Torah world, primarily consisting of its roshei yeshivah and leaders, we – the Torah community here – will join you, thereby creating a unified cry of the entire international Torah world. 

We ask of his honor to kindly answer us clearly, explaining your position and instructing us how you wish to proceed.

In representation of the American Torah world,we send this letter to the roshei yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael. Please have mercy on the collective neshamah of our nation. Unite and devise the best way to stand resilient as a fortification wall in this war. Now is not the time to focus on the differences of opinion there. Raise the Torah world to its full height and splendor until the time we merit an abundance of wisdom like the sea, speedily.

Those who write and sign with utmost respect,
 in trepidation over the fate of the Torah world in Eretz Yisrael.

[Rav] Yaakov Perlow, [Rav] Aharon Feldman, [Rav] Meir Hershkowitz,
[Rav] Aryeh Malkiel Kotler,   [Rav] Yaakov Horowitz

P.S. I wish to add a personal note. Just as I have been subservient to the guidance and leadership of Hagaon Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman in the past, so I remain now and in the future. Nonetheless, based on the testimony of trusted individuals, we realize that there is a genuine crisis regarding the army draft, particularly hitting the Sephardic yeshivos. We are raising the call that it is incumbent upon the Torah world and its spokesmen to devise and implement a proper strategy to deal with this.

[Rav] Yaakov Perlow.


  1. Why would you publish this letter now as it was sent a few weeks ago and a response provided? Just because you do not like the response does not mean you should publish an old letter as if it was new.

    1. There was no response to this letter addressing the points it raised. The only response was from Rav Lando to the Novominsker Rebbe. That letter only stated that there is a hanhaga in EY it did not answer a single issue that the Roshei Yeshiva asked about.
      More so the other Roshei Yeshiva were not even addressed in the letter.

    2. To be fair, the other Roshei Yeshiva weren't mekabel Rav Shatainman, so why should they even be goires them.
      Remember, its not about giyus per se, but rather giyus kesafim.


    1. Alumni Beis EliyahuJune 19, 2017 at 2:11 PM

      It is a greater issur to write an entire comment in CAPS
      Please remember shouting does not make on correct just annoying

  3. The point of the response is that it is a complicated matter but that the gedolei torah in EY are involved. For soem basic responses:

    1) There is no quota now and nobody knows what the quota will be in the future. Furthermore the defense minister will be able to giver deferments even if the quota is not met. As background until 2001 there was no law exempting yeshiva students and all deferments were granted by the defense ministry, so in effect the situation in 2020 will be no worse than it ever was.

    2) According to the gedolei eretz yisrael, those who are toraso umnaso and register are not in danger of jail or otherwise.

    If a debate is needed, we should call a spade a spade. Someone who is toraso umnaso should not be drafted. There is no plan to change that.

    We all know that there are many chareidim who are not necessarily learning shtark 3 sedarim a day. Some want to work, some want to do other things. What should be the plan with them? If those boys want to go to the army should they be encouraged discouraged or should there be silence? Should the chareidim political weight be used to protect anyone who wears black and white from the draft? Anyone who learns 2 hours a day, 6 hours a day? Anyone who is shomer shabbos? What is the point work fighting over?
    These are very complicated and very serious questions and each individual should probably speak with their rav to determine what they should do, but to make it seem like they are pulling boys out of yeshiva is false.

    Bottom line is that there is now an alternative to yeshiva for chareidim and some people within the chareidi tzibur are attracted to it. That seems like something that the chareidi tzibur should work out internally, with each person or rav perhaps having a different answer. Is it l'chatchila, bideieved or yehareg v'al yaavor to go to the army? I am not sure why the government should be blamed for the chareidi world's internal issue of how to deal with this issue.

    1. LIES.
      There are bochurim in Jail today who went down to the giyus office asking for a deferment.

    2. Total lie. There is currently a quota of thousands that are forced to go to the army against their will. People who followed the Bnay Braq directives are also in trouble as Reb Moshe Hillel Hirsh admitted in a recording, over 1,000 buchurim including the Novominsker's grandson.
      The issue of people going to work is not the issue at hand. Nice try confusing us.

    3. Please link to a source for the quota.

    4. True. You cant just ask for a deferment. You actually have to qualify as toraso umnaso, That was the point of my post. There could be a point in discussing what the requirements of toraso umnaso should be or in creating other categories for deferment, but to scream about shmad is the wrong issue and not productive, since it is more complex.

      Should all that be required be to write on a form that you are "chareidi"? Should chareidim be able to satisfy the law by doing something other than learning or the army (like some form of community service)? The danger is that the more "acceptable" the alternative to yeshiva is, the more likely there will be some bachurim attracted to it. Ultimately that could hurt the oilam hayeshivos, so the gedolim have been against any alternative to the army since the army is not so acceptable, especially among the fine litvishe bachurim. However there are many bachurim at risk, and sefardim in particular probably have less of a cultural aversion to the army, which means that sefardic bachurim are more likely to sign up.

      Again to repeat, these are complex shaylos, that probably relate more to internal chareidi issues than anything directly with the government, even so government policy is related.

    5. ליטוואק פון בודאפעסטJune 19, 2017 at 3:19 PM

      Thank you for the answers.

      The foolishness of the Americans who think they understand the nuances of Israeli politicking and their consequences.

      For those of us who have not been living and breathing the facts of this story for the last few years, there is but one option. Beney Beraq says they have a solution, the best one available. Yerushalayim is not even claiming to have a solution, beyond pointless demonstrations. Which side does a sane person take?

    6. Reb Ahron Shechter in his letter writes there is a yearly quota of thousands. There are also recruiters among Yeshivos especially the weaker ones that are wreaking havoc amongst the charaidim. These are all part of the problem with the new law. This is what most of the gedolim here and abroad are objecting to.

    7. I am looking for a source outside of the letter, since the quota is not actually in the current law and the gfedolei EY say it does not exist.
      As stated above, under the current law there is required to be a quota of draftees from the chareidi tzibur by 2020 with the ability for the defense ministry to grant additional deferments. Also, just to point out the difference, the Lapid era draft law provided a cap on the number of bnei yeshiva, which is very different from a quota. The quota is not set yet, but the gedolei EY believe that whatver it is can be met without taking anyone toraso umnaso (and even if not they can rely on defense ministry deferments which is exactly what they relied on from 1948 until 2001).

    8. Get a copy of the actual law and you will see the quota for your self. The American RY actually went through the law thoroughly. They have the documentation. Shockingly the Israeli RY admittedly said they never did. It is the askanim there that are making the decisions that is what's bothering the Americans.

    9. You need to get your facts straight please. THERE IS NO QUOTA. If you can link to a single source that lists what this alleged quota is I would greatly appreciate it.

      Here is a summary from the Jerusalem Post printed on November 24, 2015 describing the new law that was passed after UTJ and Shad re-joined the coalition. It changed the law that had been passed by Lapid:

      "The previous law, passed in March 2014 at the behest of Yesh Atid, was despised by UTJ and Shas because it threatened to limit the number of full-time yeshiva students who are able to gain exemptions to military or civilian service.

      The amendment postpones the implementation of obligatory enlistment on full-time yeshiva students, which was supposed to come into effect in 2017, until 2020.

      But after 2020, the terms of the amendment allow the government to set targets for enlistment from the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector “in accordance with the recommendation of the defense minister.”

      As under the terms of the previous law, full-time yeshiva students will be able to postpone their enlistment until the age of 21.

      If the targets set by the government are not met however, the defense minister has the authority to exempt yeshiva students over the age of 21 from national service if he so wishes, “while bearing in mind” targets established by the government, until the age of 26 when the yeshiva students will receive a final exemption from military service."

      It is a complicated situation but please try to avoid sheker. There is no quota today. Under the current law, in 2020 a quota will be set by the defense minister but the defense minister will be able to grant additional exemptions even if the quota is not met.

      For a full copy of the article you can search for the title of the article:


  4. Why should a letter written by Roshei Yeshiva to Roshei Yeshiva be published? I think it should remain a private matter between the one's writing and receiving the letter.

    1. The letter was leaked in Bnay Braq. Reb Chaim's grandchildren leaked it because they were upset Reb Chaim was not addressed in it. Welcome to the cesspool of Bnay Braq politics run by a few 35 year old Gaboim who just want power and money. Nothing more.

    2. Again - just because it was leaked does not mean it has to be published. The one who runs this site should use his discretion and remember "Mila B'Sela Shtika B'Trei"

    3. Sorry. It was already posted on every Israeli web site before HV.

  5. Why would you print after the Novominsker Rebbi retracted in a written letter. At least be honest and print that letter along with this one. Don't become TLS a one sided propaganda machine

    1. Novominsker is the only one who absolved himself. He's a yochid. The other American Roshei Yeshiva are standing strong and did not back Down.

    2. The other 4 did not retract in any way shape or form. Even the Novuminsker said he pulling out his involvement due to Bnay Braq not willing to explore the truth so there is no use fighting with them. The questions or issues were never addressed.

    3. Still no excuse not to print his letter, or remove his Name from this post

    4. Novominsker letter was posted last week

    5. Alumni Beis EliyahuJune 20, 2017 at 8:37 AM

      You are taking a page from the pro-eiruv camp in Boro Park and the like. They also say whatever we did until now was all in error but the "reality is...." .
      The fact is that we are living with an unprecedented situation in where there are Roshei Yeshivos who leak news items just as James Comey did.
      Until now , have you ever heard of a R"Y who leaked a letter or a conversation. What happened to us?
      Roshei Yeshivos parading around a rebbe who is in erkaos ???
      Do you remember the rage that Rav Shach had against Chabad for taking Barry Gurari to erkaos?
      Do you really want to align yourself with a group of people who are willing to me oiver deOirrasas berating frum soldiers ?
      All of these chevreh take money from the Medina if they want the cash they need to play by the rules.
      If a bachur or yungermahn is not holding by learning he belongs in the army
      there is no reason that we need to pretend and create a facade that these poor people will have zero sipuk in life if they are forced to sit and learn against their will . Nobody gains from such a society .

    6. Mr. Alumnai,
      The letter was leaked by bnei brak that's a fact.

      You falsely put two issues together just to bashmutz gedolim who disagree with your small brain.
      Can we make the same argument that you are aligning yourself with mechalelei shabbos and Koifrim batorah who support the IDF.

      You are throwing around stuff that have absolutely no shaychus to the Giyus issue . It's obvious your intention is to defame and lie just to make your opponents look bad.

      As to your opinion that anyone not learning should go to the army. That's not a decision you should make.
      But the issue here is about bochurim who are in yeshiva and the army is drafting them on minor technicalities.

    7. Alumni Beis EliyahuJune 20, 2017 at 9:20 AM

      If opinion is fact then you are correct.
      However you are incorrect. Do we see a pattern of leaked letters from certain American R"Y`s?
      Maybe your facts don`t like other facts
      Were you the one who recorded and conversation with RMHH only to disseminate it shelo bershus. Perhaps you can explain the heter of leaking something that was BeBal Tomar surely your rebbe taught you that Chazal Laimor azoi tzu zugen.
      People are judged by the friends they keep .
      If these R"Y want to align themselves with these groups they need to realize the collateral image they create .
      Kat Eiruv, Kat Erkaos , Kat Biyush Pnei Chaveiro BeRabim yes and also a few American R"Y mixed in for good measure and a maniac wearing a bend down hat spurring narishkeit as the English Speaking stooge at Barclays btw he also has a youtube clip about this that prob where he auditioned for this shteeleh

    8. Judge by who your friends are. Bnay Braq aligns themselves with Chaim Shaulzon, Kikar Hashabat... speaks volumes.

    9. Alumni Beis EliyahuJune 20, 2017 at 11:59 AM

      They are just as reputable as HaPeles.
      However I am happy that you agreed with my assertions.
      I am glad that we have found common ground

  6. Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in Mishpacha of his personal experience with R. Shach’s psak(“Mashiach Did Not Arrive — Again,”July 19, 2013”) :

    “To describe service in the IDF as ipso facto an act of shmad is to give vent to hysteria. The gedolim always sharply criticized those who sought deferments from service for which they were not qualified for endangering those who were entitled by virtue of their full-time learning. And when I served as editor of the English Yated Ne’eman more than twenty years ago, Rav Shach made clear that any staff member not entitled to the “toraso umanaso” deferment had to register with the IDF.”

    R' Zev Leff clarified his writing regarding the Chazon Ish’s position in a letter to
    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | ל’ ניסן תשע”ג

    “After receiving feedback from one person and rereading the article published in Hamodia (March 20, page A15), I realized that I inadvertently gave the wrong impression as to what the Chazon Ish said. The Chazon Ish did NOT direct those who are not learning full time to enlist in the army. Rather, he said that if one who is not learning full time takes advantage of the p’tur (exemption) from the army, it is as if he is a rodef of the yeshivah world in Eretz Yisrael, for he endangers the whole essence of the p’tur. What, in fact, such a person should actually do rather than falsely use the p’tur was not delineated in the source (see Pe’er Hador, vol. 4, p. 260, top).

    Rabbi Zev Leff

    1. ליטוואק פון בודאפעסטJune 19, 2017 at 3:20 PM

      In פאר הדור the CI is clearly quoted as saying nonתורתו אומנותו should enlist.

  7. The gedolim in the USA asked for a meeting with the gedolim in Bnay Braq with out gaboim to work out the issues. They have been turned down by the gaboim. Very sad that the gaboim run the show.

    1. I have what to say, but hefkervelt is censoring all comments it doesn't like, just like the rest of the frum media.

  8. Why did Lakewood cheder involve the kids and ask kids to write a letter about the satmar newspaper?

    1. ליטוואק פון בודאפעסטJune 19, 2017 at 3:21 PM

      Details please?

  9. For the same reason why satmar chadarim were forced to dress in burlap sacks protesting the medina.

  10. The Question is how was the Draft deferment set up was it set up as a deferment for Yeshiva and Kollel Students or for anyone who is " Chareidi"?

    1. Historically it was always described as an exemption for "toraso umanso". There is even a wikipedia page with that name describing the history until 2012.

      For the first 50 years of the medina no one was paying much attention. As the hareidi tzibbur grew from a few hundred people to somewhere above 1 million, people started to pay more attention and it became a policy issue for secular Israeli's. Additionally, as you see above in the articles quoted, the gedolei hador of the previous dor who built chareidi society R' Shach and the Chazon Ish foresaw the risks of expanding the exemption beyond toraso umnaso felt strongly that someone who is not toraso umanso is not entitled to the exemption and is causing a threat to the real lomdei torah with a din rodef according to the Chazon Ish.

      There may be real concerns to address under the current law, like should there be the ability to deal with bachurim who are not learning as shtark to get some extension (which is part of the reason that no one is drafted until 21, are there small yeshivas that find the compliance overly burdensome or hard to keep up with, etc., but the peleg is not tryng to deal with those issues directly. Instead they are screaming shmad, spreading lies and making macha'ah's against the gedolei hador.

    2. You are misinformed. The question is the new draft law is very different then the one in place from the establishment of the state. There are large quotas, feisty recruiters, huge technical difficulties. The gedolim in Bnay Braq don't seem to know the details. Seems like there is a Hefkairus in Degel Hatorah and the MK's are making decisions with out gathering the Moetzes for aan opinion. The Americans are discovering that now. If Bnay Braq meant Kvod Shomayim they would sit down and discuss the issues seriously with Yerushalayim or the American Gedolim.

    3. You are VERY wrong. Please learn history. There actually was no law in place at the establishment of the state. It was just an understanding between the chareidim and the defense ministry. The first actual law was the Tal Law in 2001. That was ruled unconstitutional by the Bagatz in 2012. The replacement was the Lapid Law in 2014, which was then changed in 2015 when the chareidim joined the coalition. The current law as described above in the post at 7:15am:

      1) Has no quotas until 2020 at the earliest and even then the defense minister can grant exceptions if the quota is not met (which matches the "law" from 1948-2001

      2) Feisty recruiters are not part of any law, and a bachur can be instructed on how to act in response. It is also noted that many dispute that there are feisty recruiters. L'maaseh there are bachurim who can be attracted to the benefits of joining the army. The fact that some boys might want to leave yeshiva should be combated in a mussar schmooze by their rebbe/mashgiach, not by protesting against the state.

      3) Technical difficulties should be addressed through a normal process (hopefully in dialogue with the vaad hayeshivos), not by refusing to register and having 14 year olds sit-in the middle of rechov bar-ilan.

      What the peleg oilam has done is to lie and tell everyone that all bachurim will be drafted (which is not true) as a plan by the gov't to cause a shmad and therefore they make protests against the gedolei hador for agreeing to the current law.

      Kushta Kai, Shikra lo kai.

    4. AP you are just repeating the lies from rabbi BS letter.

  11. Only for full time learners

  12. Seems like Hefkervelt is engaged in a full blown blackout of any comments they fear will show how one sided they are on this issue.

    1. He printed your comment here. I think if you write respectfully he will print the comments.

  13. Some corrections.The letter written in response to the posted letter was signed by Horav Gershon Eidelstein Shlita in addition to Horav Dov Landau Shlita. It states explicitly that there is NO gezeiros Giyus and many of the issues raised in the letter are non existent. It even ends off with the comment "kushta koi shikra Loi koi" presumably as a reference that the Roshai Yeshiva were given false information.

    1. Rav Dov Lando said he is not involved Vin the Giyus issue and has no idea what is going on.
      He said specifically he is not involving himself with the details nor does he get involved in klal inyanim.
      As for his letter, if you know a bit of history that went on with Rav Shach, everything is understood.
      The other American Roshei Yeshiva are standing by their original letter.

    2. Rav Dov Landau is a Talmud Chochom but is not in the mainstream for 35 years> Rav shach knocked him out of the ball park many years ago. As a 50 year old yungerman He wrote a letter against Rav Shach for starting Degel. Reb Gershon is new to the game & says clearly he don't know details. On the other hand you have Reb Shmuel aurbach, Reb Yisroel Y Kalmanovich, Reb Shmuel Deutch, Reb Dovid Solavaichick, Reb Meir Solavaichick, Reb Yaakov Meir Shechter... all firmly against the draft law. No small fries.

    3. They should be willing to meet the American or Israeli gedolim who are against if they indeed signed the letter.

  14. Rav Horowitz in Orchos Rabbainu ( Chelek Daled amud Reish) says that the Steipler would CONSTANTLY say that those who are working and use Yeshiva registration to get a pitur from the army are "Rodfim gemurim" on the oilam Hayishivos

  15. Alumnai Bais Eliyohu,
    Stick to Westgate and the mosrim who went to arkaos to stop shuls. You can not pick and choose depending on what suits your agenda.

  16. Alumni Beis EliyahuJune 20, 2017 at 6:06 PM

    Another page from the Ingrisher playbook if someone doesn't agree with me he is a moser . So I guess u are in disagreement with Rav Shach as well for his rebuke with Chabads use of erkaos
    U can follow either Satmar saint that u wish I will take Rav Shach any day