Hareidi Draft Law Passes in Israel

July 23, 2013  

The Knesset passed the “Perry Law” for drafting hareidi men into the military by a vote of 64 to 21 Tuesday morning. The bill passed in the first reading and requires two more readings in order to become the law of the land.

The vote took place around 5:00 a.m., after a long night of deliberations in the plenum.

In the course of the debate, Finance Min. Yair Lapid, Head of the Yesh Atid party, turned to the hareidi MKs and reminded them of the Torah passage that speaks of working six days every week before the Sabbath. “It does not say ‘you shall sit in the yeshiva for six days and someone else will work for you,’” he added sarcastically, “or ‘you shall sit in the yeshiva for six days and the secular public will be the Messiah’s donkey for you.’”

“We have ceased to be the Messiah’s donkey,” Lapid said – in a reference to an often misunderstood passage from the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, which likened the present generations of Israel to “the donkey of the Messiah,” to be followed by the Messiah himself. 

The vote was preceded by unprecedented steps of protest, taken by the hareidi MKs. United Torah Judaism MKs took scissors in hand and cut their clothes in the manner of Jewish people whose close relative has died, calling out: “This is a dark day for the Israeli Knesset.”

Earlier, toward the end of the speech delieverd by MK Meir Porush (UTJ), Porush took out a pair of handcuffs and cuffed himself to the stand, saying that this is how the state of Israel treats the yeshiva students. It took ushers a long time to try and open the cuffs, and the MK was removed from the plenum.

Members of Shas and UTJ spent part of the duration of the debate in a hallway reciting selichot prayers, and reading Psalms. Following this, MK Meir Porush blew a shofar in mourning.

Minister of Science Yaakov Perry, who chaired the committee that formulated the bill, declared that this was “a day of opportunity for the Nation of Israel.”

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