JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ovadia Yosef, a former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, said haredi Orthodox yeshiva students may have to leave the country to avoid being forced into military or national service.
“There is a terrible edict hanging over our heads. G-d forbid, but we would have no choice but to leave the Land of Israel in order to ensure that the yeshiva students are not forced to fight," Yosef, spiritual leader of the haredi Orthodox Shas Party, said last week during a lecture in Jerusalem, according to Israel National News. "How will they be Torah scholars if they are drafted into the army?"
He added, "We are in great trouble. This is the time for each and every person to commit to vote for the parties that support the Torah.”
Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court invalidated the Tal Law that had allowed haredi men to indefinitely defer army service and mandated the government to pass new legislation by Aug. 1, but no such legislation was passed.
Israel’s Cabinet last month approved a temporary exemption for haredi yeshiva students from the military draft that provides a framework for the students to join the National Service program in place of being drafted into the military. The exemption expires in August, allowing the new government that will be elected in January an opportunity to pass a substitute for the Tal Law.