Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv - Eliahu Hershkovitz  - 28122011
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Photo by Eliahu Hershkovitz
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The most senior of Haredi rabbis has called on his followers to boycott all programs set up for them in education, national and military service.

In a letter published on Tuesday and described as "historic, of incredible significance for now and future generations" by his followers, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv - who is considered the leader of the Lithuanian non-Hasidic faction of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews - called for a total boycott of frameworks, such as the programs that enable Haredim to serve in separate army units or learn a profession in the IDF, and the colleges where thousands of ultra-Orthodox study. He said such programs are subjugated to the control and culture of those who have "thrown off the burden [of the commandments]."

Rabbi Elyashiv's letter was published on the front page of his newspaper, Yated Neeman. The letter was published at the height of the tensions and conflicts going on in Bet Shemesh. On Monday, the main headline in the paper referred to a "Campaign of planned incitement against the Haredi community," and on Tuesday the dramatic letter was intended to raise the barriers between the Haredi camp and the outside world.

"We must protest and warn of all sorts of trends from outside to harm the pure cruse of oil, who found 'special frameworks for Haredim,' which will be under their full control and spirit," he wrote.

Writing about the Haredi colleges founded in recent years, Elyashiv warned they will "bring in foreign ambitions absorbed from the outside, and their goal is to bring a change in the spirit and essence of the Haredi public, and act to introduce all sorts of other aspirations, national and enlightenment which our forefathers did not know; and to integrate and connect them with the nonreligious life and the culture of evil people." He called on his followers to perform the "will of our heavenly father" and walk only in the path of tradition.