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Rabbis snub Israeli defense minister

Dozens of Israeli rabbis have signed a document expressing their support of Har Bracha Yeshiva Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, snubbing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The declaration was signed on Thursday by rabbis serving as educators in government-affiliated religious seminaries — known as ‘hesder yeshivas’ — after Barak, in an unprecedented step, cut ties with hesder yeshiva over what its dean, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, had said.

“Loyalty to God comes above all other loyalties; be it to the military or the government,” Rabbi Eliezer Melamed had earlier said, the Ynet news website reported.

The rabbis explain in their document that Tel Aviv has in recent years been using the army “for purposes that are not related to Israel’s defense, and contradict God’s will, which is expressed in the sacred Torah. This situation puts IDF soldiers in a reality where there is a contraction between God’s orders and those of the commanders.”

“We educate our students of the hesder yeshivas, to integrate into the army and be excellent and loyal soldiers while staying committed to God’s words. We trust that God is the one who instills fear in our enemies, and helps our soldiers prosper and receive the crown of victory,” the rabbis write in closing.

One of the signatories, Rabbi Ariel Bareli, told Israel Radio that faith outweighs government policies in the event of a clash. “You must understand, that the desire of the nation isn’t meaningful for someone who believes in the creator,” he commented.

As pressure increases on the government to curtail and eventually remove many West Bank settlements, the dispute highlights the growing political and spiritual dilemma within Israel.

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