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Ben Gurion Told Leading Rabbis: I Wish I’d Studied More Torah

Fascinating protocols detail first Israeli prime minister’s meeting with leading rabbis; ‘I know that we will not be saved by the sword…’
The Jerusalem-based Kedem Auction House has put up for sale an original typed protocol of two meetings between the Council of Torah Sages and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, respectively. The meetings, which took place in the summer of 1953, dealt with the controversial topic of the drafting of women to National Service (Sherut Leumi).

The rabbis who called on Ben-Gurion were among the most prominent of that generation: Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rabbi Meir Karelitz (brother of the Chazon Ish), and Rabbi Menachem Porush.

The protocol shows that Rabbi Frank opened the meeting by saying, “According to Jewish Law, it is not permitted to draft women to the army or to any form of national service. We request that you nullify this idea… We greatly fear that we will reach a situation, Heaven forfend, that [we will face the Divine consequence of] ‘your sons and daughters will be given over to another nation.'”

The protocol later notes, “Silence reigned in the room, and tears flowed from his eyes, and deep heart-breaking sighs were heard from the two great rabbis Meltzer and Karelitz.” Rabbi Frank, too, broke down in silent weeping at at least one point.


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