Chaim Levinson
November 23, 2009 - 1:00am

Dozens of religious Zionist rabbis held a secret meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday to discuss ways of bolstering the hesder yeshivas, the halachic argument for refusing to obey military orders to evacuate settlements, and the campaign against having the army evacuate Jews from their homes.

The rabbis in attendance included Zalman Baruch Melamed, rabbi of Beit El and head of the yeshiva there; Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of Safed; and Yaakov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef.

The original plan had been to broaden the group of rabbis who provide halachic guidance for the National Union party. However, the rabbis decided to address more pressing issues affecting religious Zionism instead.

"The fate of a single hesder yeshiva is the fate of them all. There are various views at all the yeshivas, but one cannot be harmed as the rest stand by," Melamed reportedly said.

"The IDF sends solders to be educated at Tel Aviv University, where lecturers openly call for refusing orders. The demand [of not encouraging refusal of orders] cannot be imposed only on rabbis when the IDF funds refuseniks," he reportedly said.

Rabbi Dov Lior, rabbi of Kiryat Arba, reportedly said, "We educate our soldiers to serve and not to refuse. But we can not present them with such a clash [of ideals]."

The rabbis also said that even if different hesder yeshivas espouse different views, this is not something that can be imposed on them. The rabbis said ordering soldiers to evacuate settlements in the Land of Israel was like forcing a person to do something contrary to his faith, which is prohibited.

"A policeman can resign, but the soldiers cannot," they said.

The rabbis concluded that the campaign must gain momentum, because the soldiers must not be left on their own, and that their parents and the general public must be conscripted into the effort.

One of the rabbis said moral support must be given to the parents who do not want their children to evacuate Jews.

The rabbis also expressed support for the Shimshon and Nachshon Battalion soldiers who raised banners stating they refused to evacuate settlements, and called them "heroes."


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