Former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar urged his ultra-Orthodox followers early this week to pray for the repentance of lawmakers who successfully passed a law two weeks ago that seeks to draft Haredi men to the IDF and national service.
“We must increase our Torah study, and I ask you to pray, despite all our pain, to pray over them, that God might give wisdom to the misguided — to pray for their benefit, not for our benefit,” Amar said of Knesset members who voted for the controversial law.
Amar’s comments came during a religious class he taught earlier this week in Jerusalem, according to the Haredi news website Kikar Hashabat.
Amar is the former Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, and is considered one of the most influential rabbis in the Sephardi religious world.
“We are not afraid,” Amar said. “We are not worried. We have passed worse than them. What haven’t we passed? We are not afraid at all. But I ask and beg that we all pray over them, for them, poor things, for whom the heart grieves, that they might know what Torah is — and that they, too, study Torah.”
The political coalition that supports drafting Haredi men “is a foolish wind that passes.” In response, “we must strengthen ourselves through Torah study.”
The ultra-Orthodox community has vehemently protested plans to have them join the Israel Defense Forces.
On Saturday, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the head rabbi of the powerful Belz dynasty, called Israel’s ultra-Orthodox “the essence of Israel,” insisted that “we don’t need the state or the government,” and called Israeli lawmakers who supported the draft law “enemies that persecute Jews and the Torah,” according to the Yeshiva World News website.
“May it be God’s will that the people of Israel and students of Torah should be protected from all enemies that persecute Jews and the Torah. They should not succeed in their efforts to disrupt Torah study and observance of Torah until Messiah arrives,” said Rokeach, who leads a Hasidic sect of several thousand families and is considered an influential rabbi among Israeli Hasids.