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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


"Haredi Rabbi that was assaulted [last year by the deceased followers] and participated in the funeral: "Reb Shmuel was a soft man.

Rabbi Yitzhak Bar-Haim, who was beaten last year by some of the followers of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach [1], decided to attend the funeral procession with other rabbis from Netzach Yehuda [2].

A group of rabbis from Netzach Yehuda, participated in the funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, of blessed righteous memory. One of them was Rabbi Yitzhak Bar Haim, one of the founders of Netzach Yehuda and one of the founders of the [Haredi] battalion itself, who was beaten about a year ago by extremists who allegedly acted in the name of religious draft evasion [3]. In a conversation with Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Bar-Haim explained that he participated in the funeral because Rabbi Shmuel was a great man in his devotion to the Torah and in his service to God: ‘Even if he thought differently than I did, there is no question about his love of Torah and his worship of God. So I had no questions about attending the funeral.'

In addition to participating in the funeral of Rabbi Auerbach, Rabbi Bar-Haim reveals that during the funeral there was also a memorial service for a Haredi soldier from the Netzach Yehuda battalion who passed away last year. The rabbi participated in both the funeral and the soldier's memorial service. Moreover, Rabbi Haim Bar-Haim participated in the funeral with Haredi soldiers and Haredi army graduates and other rabbis from Netzach Yehuda.

In response to ‘Kikar’s’ question about the assault he underwent a year ago by enlistment opponents, Rabbi Bar-Haim replies: ‘I know Rabbi Shmuel was a soft and pleasant man, with a compassion for the oppressed and troubled. If he knew that the soldiers were suffering, I have no doubt that he would have protested [against the assaults and harassments that were directed against the soldiers]. People around him fed him with lies and falsehoods. It was not him and it was not the house from which he came […] Those who threw eggs at me – I'm not sure they were at the funeral. It's hard for me to believe that the inspiration for such things came from Rabbi Shmuel […]’

Referring to the bitter controversy regarding the enlistment, Rabbi Bar-Haim notes that "the people of Israel always had disagreements, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagreed with each other [4], and the Gemara [5] was full of disagreements. I once asked one of the great Rabbis of the generation: ‘I am afraid of Rabbi Shmuel and other rabbis [who are against Haredis enlisting to the army], so he answered, 'You have Rabbis to rely on’. Especially since we see that the Netzach Yehuda battalion has existed for 20 years and is developing and succeeding […] The fact that there is resistance is a positive thing that requires us to prove ourselves despite our opposition and criticism.

Alongside the Rabbis' participation in the funeral, Netzah Yehuda also issued an official mourning notice stating that "the Rabbis and directors of Netzah Yehuda, together with thousands of his students and along with all the community of Israel, mourn the passing of the Torah Minister Great Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach of blessed righteous memory. [He was] one the greatest Torah teachers of our generation. The passing of the Rabbi is a great loss for the people of Israel and for Haredi Jewry. The Rabbi’s legacy of Torah and strict adherence [to Jewish law] will continue to accompany us and guide us."

– Kikar Hashabat
0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach (21.9.1931-24.2.2018) passed away on Saturday. He was the spiritual leader of an ideologically strict minority movement in the Haredi community, known as the ‘Jerusalem faction’. Rabbi Auerbach led the fierce opposition to Haredi soldiers enlisting in the army and cooperating in any way with the authorities. While other Haredi Rabbis oppose enlisting as well, Rabbi Auerbach is known to prohibit even showing up at the recruiting office and declaring oneself as Haredi in order to get an exemption. Under his leadership demonstrations – that in some cases became violent- were carried out protesting any form of Hardedi enlistment in the army. For more posts regarding Rabbi Auerbach’s passing away and funeral see: https://goo.gl/2VAyfR.
[2] Netzach Yehuda (lit. Eternity of Juda) is an NPO that supports Haredi soldiers throughout their military service, up to and including their discharge and integration into civilian life, in order to help them grow through their military service and emerge as employed haredi Jews with a deep sense of connection to Torah and mitzvoth. In cooperation with the I.D.F. it founded the first Haredi combat regiment nearly 20 years ago, also known as “Nachal Haredi”. Till this day, the existence of this unit is a controversial issue in Haredi society.
[3] As part of the ongoing, sometimes violent, debate within Haredi society, some extremists target known enlistment advocates and activists. These extremists are usually considered to be followers of Rabbi Auerbach.
[4] The debates between Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel are known to be a Jewish epitome of maintaining close social ties notwithstanding fierce ideological disagreement. It derives from the Talmudic era (200 C.E.) debates between the followers of two great sages of the time – Hillel and Shamai.
[5] The Aramaic, and most commonly used, term for the Jewish canonical text known as the Talmud.

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