Parts of the National Religious sector have openly declared that their representatives have gone too far and crossed red lines.
Yesterday it was reported that Tzefas’ Chief Rabbi, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, declared that “we must not let this government divide and conquer [among the religious public.] I will also attend the atzeres.” His call was joined by Harav Zvi Yisrael Tau and Harav Shlomo Aviner, who pledged that they would come with their students.
The chairman of the administration of Rabbanim of Derech Emunah, Harav Baruch Efrati, ruled that members of the National Religious sector are obligated to attend the atzeres. In an interview with Arutz-7, he said that “the Torah is the primary and broadest common denominator within the chareidi sector, and if we cooperate with Shabbos desecrators for mutual values, we certainly must cooperate with the chareidi world. The common denominator with them is broad and deeper. We have to participate with them not only for the protest aspect, but also to elevate and strengthen them.”
Harav Efrati declared that the hour of truth has come. “We are turning to every
G-d fearing person, for whom Torah and the freedom of Torah is important to him, to take responsibility for the reality in the state of Israel and come to this rally, not to say what not, but to say what yes. We are for the Torah and freedom of Torah, and without quotas, chas v’shalom, and putting [people] into prison. These things must be said: There is no difference between us; we learn the same Rashba and Rema, and we are obligated to come to the atzeres.”
According to Harav Efrati, the silence of the National Religious Rabbanim is causing a lot of unease. “There is a group of laws that are problematic and we are not stating our stance. The Zionist rabbinical world is quiet. No one is speaking, for bad or for good; there is no stance. I am uncomfortable primarily klapei Shmaya (towards Heaven), and, regretfully, it does not surprise me. The reality in the National Religious sector today is one of fear, unease and lack of clarity. Fear of expressing an opinion because they are not sure what is right and what is not. There is light and darkness mixed together. We are all supportive of enlisting, but we are also all supportive of learning Torah in a significant fashion, so if it is hard, then we face the challenge instead of avoiding the challenge.”
Harav Efrati claims that today, laws that grossly harm Yiddishkeit are being proposed in the Knesset. “There’s the conversion law, and I’m telling you there is no acceptance of Torah and mitzvos there. They are talking about a law that gentiles should be able to adopt Jews. These laws are being circulated in Knesset and no one is opening their mouths. No one expresses an opinion. There is a lack of willingness to take responsibility in complex issues and to make statements for which we will pay the price. We are pained by these laws.”
He believes that the price might be painful for the National Religious sector. “Throwing bachurim into prison because they didn’t meet quotas? What kind of statement is that? We, who deeply love Eretz Yisrael, and cleave to this land, and want full settlement of Yehudah and Shomron, should not wonder later that our chareidi brethren, who are loyal to Torah, notice that in a time of trouble we are not with them. Now Torah is at the fore; whoever harms Torah, we shouldn’t wonder how they are willing to harm Eretz Yisrael, which is so holy and dear to us. The association of the Rabbanim of Derech Emunah represents hundreds of serving Rabbanim, and we are calling on the National Religious community to participate.”
On the other hand, there are organizations and Rabbanim close to Minister Naftali Bennett who are reportedly trying to prevent the National Religious public from participating.
News of the atzeres has attracted even those who are not religious. There are said to be a significant number of secular individuals who have announced their intention to attend in support of the chareidi public.