Question: Is it true that you changed your position in the meeting of the heads of the Union of Hesder Yeshiva’s, as was reported in some of the media?
Answer: In general, I did not change my position, however, in one small issue, I did.
Two months ago I wrote that I “recommend not protesting while in the framework of the army,” and now, I join the vast majority of rabbi’s who expressed the position of “opposition to protesting while in the framework of the army.” The reason for this change is due to the fact that, in the meantime, I am still a member of the Union, and it is only fitting that I take into consideration and accept the majority decision, on the condition that the adjustment is not of a fundamental character. For example, if they had decided to criticize the protester’s, I would not have agreed (I will explain this at another opportunity). However, since the change is not fundamental, consideration of the majority opinion is appropriate.
Of course, regarding coercion to transgress prohibitions of the Sabbath, the expulsion of Jews from their homes, or similar issues, I have not changed my opinion, whatsoever. The other rabbi’s also agree fundamentally with this point.
My position not to sign any document under pressure from the authorities has also not changed. At the demand of Minister Barak or the Commander of Human Resources of the I.D.F., I will not agree to voice my opinion. However, I most certainly take into consideration my fellow colleagues and rabbi’s.
As far as meetings with minister’s and I.D.F. officers are concerned, if the meetings are organized in a respectful manner, I am more than happy to meet, as I did with Vice Minister Matan Vilna’i. However, if the meetings are improperly organized, under the heading of ‘summons’ or ‘hearing,’ or with the goal of applying governmental pressure to change a Torah position – I am not willing to meet.
Certainly, I will try my best to continue to fulfill my obligation to publically express my positions with integrity and honesty. This position – that every rabbi is obligated to express his opinions without fear – is also supported by many of the deans of the yeshiva’s. Even so, it must be pointed out that a few of them, including some who serve as directors of the Union, disagreed with certain things I wrote in my column ‘Revivim’. As I see things, it’s fine that there are different opinions and debates, as long as the discussion is businesslike and respectable.
Question: Why didn’t you make your acceptance of the position of the majority of rabbi’s rejecting protests in the army, conditional to having Yeshiva Har Bracha returned to the Hesder agreement?
Answer: On the contrary, I prefer things the way they are, even if the price we have to pay is the discontinuation of the Hesder agreement. It’s not proper to change one’s position in order to receive something from the Minister of Defense; however, it is proper to honor the position of the majority of rabbi’s with whom I share a common framework.
Question: The speaker of the Union of Hesder Yeshiva’s, Rabbi David Stav, said in his statement that it would have been proper for you to have appeared at Minister Barak’s ‘hearing’. Was this part of the decision of the rabbi’s?
Answer: There were those who believed so, however, many rabbi’s supported my position – it seems they were the majority. In any case, there was no decision on this issue, and therefore, the statement of Rabbi Stav was his own words, and not the opinion of the gathering. Either way, even if the majority had decided that I should have gone to the ‘hearing’, I would not have been able to accept their opinion.
Does Money Talk?
Question: Some people are claiming that because of the money your Yeshiva would lose, you submitted to the position of the Union of Hesder rabbi’s, while others say that you feared losing your personal salary.
Answer: The governmental allowance which a Hesder Yeshiva receives is indeed higher than that of a regular Yeshiva, however, the differences are manageable. It is relatively easy to operate a regular, non-Hesder Yeshiva, as can be seen by all the other Yeshivot.
Concerning myself personally, it is totally meaningless, for since its establishment until this day, I have not received a salary from the Yeshiva.
At another opportunity, I will write, b’ezrat Hashem, a few pieces of advice on family budgeting and the importance of giving charity. It seems that one who has a reasonable job and follows the advice of the Sages concerning the giving of charity and living modestly – if he does not encounter unusual troubles – his main problem will be what to do with all his extra money.