Monday, Jun 24, 2024

My Take on the News

A Warning from the Supreme Court

Let us begin this week’s column with an issue of the utmost importance: the legal status of bnei yeshivos. While it is often not advisable to discuss this subject in excessive detail, I must report on the main points.

As I have told you in the past, the previous draft law has already expired. The government somehow managed to find a temporary fix to prevent all the yeshiva bochurim in the country from being subject immediately to the draft, and they are now waiting for a new law to be formulated that will pass muster in the Supreme Court. Alternatively, instead of satisfying the justices on the court, a law might be passed that eliminates the reasonability clause, making it impossible for the Supreme Court to strike down a draft law on the grounds that it is “unreasonable.” A third possibility is that the Knesset may pass a new Basic Law that enshrines Torah learning as a valid justification for a draft exemption. At this time, there is plenty of hard work being done behind closed doors on finding a legal pathway out of this conundrum, and we can only hope that a method will be devised to preserve the draft exemption for talmidei yeshivos and to avoid harm to the Torah world.

As could only be expected, the enemies of the yeshiva world have already petitioned the Supreme Court to force an immediate draft of all bnei yeshivos in the absence of a law to the contrary. On Sunday, the Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government, which demanded the immediate conscription of all the chareidi yeshiva bochurim in the country. Echoing their previous responses to petitions filed by the same organization, the judges ruled that this petition was submitted too hastily and without exhausting the other legal avenues available. The law providing for the draft exemption for yeshiva bochurim expired on June 30, 2023, and the petition was filed just five days later. Justices Barak-Erez, Canfy-Steinitz, and Khaled Kabub wrote, “We can understand that the individuals involved in this matter are feeling frustration and even desperation, due to the fact that the issue that is the focus of this petition, which is also the subject of an ongoing public debate, still has not been resolved. Nevertheless, this does not justify filing a petition that calls for an immediate sweeping draft mere days after the relevant legal situation was changed.”

The justices acknowledged that the Movement for Quality Government contacted Defense Minister Yoav Gallant about the issue three weeks before the law expired; however, the organization did not make a specific request at that time. The movement also appealed to the cabinet and the attorney general at the end of June, but the judges wrote that “these appeals, especially in light of the small amount of time that elapsed after they were sent, did not satisfy the need to pursue all available legal avenues before turning to the court, with all due consideration to the nature of the subject at hand and the overall circumstances.” Now that the draft law has expired, a new situation has been created, and one cannot expect answers on such a complicated subject within a few days.

Make no mistake: The court’s ruling should not be taken as a sign that the judges have changed their attitude. They are simply being especially cautious due to the general situation in Israel at this time. They are not siding with the chareidi community at all; they simply found an excuse to reject the petition. Their ruling also made it clear that they are not pleased with the situation as it stands. “It cannot be denied that it is taking an incomparably long time for the situation to be resolved,” the judge noted sharply. “Nevertheless, the ‘excess baggage’ of this yearslong process does not exempt the petitioner from respecting the rules requiring other procedures to be exhausted. A petition on this subject may be entertained only after the respondents have been given sufficient time to react. At the same time, it is logical that no one should expect the process of dealing with this issue to be drawn out indefinitely.” This was a clear warning to the chareidi parties and the government.

Terror in the Heart of Tel Aviv

We are still living in the shadow of terror. Last Tuesday, a terror attack was committed in Tel Aviv, leaving nine people wounded with injuries of varying degrees. The 20-year-old terrorist rammed his car at high speed into a group of people waiting at a bus stop and then emerged from the car and began stabbing civilians, until he was shot to death by an armed passerby. The terrorist lived in the town of Samoa in southern Har Chevron and did not have a permit to be in Israel. It is suspected that he stole the car used in the attack from his employer in Israel.

The attack ended with the terrorist shot to death. It may sound obvious to any rational person that a terrorist murderer should be shot and killed before he can continue his rampage, but the incident led to a major public debate over how many bullets should have been fired by the civilian who killed the attacker. To make matters worse, the Palestinians discovered the identity of the man who neutralized the terrorist, and they are threatening to avenge the murderer’s death. This is a type of threat that we have never encountered before. The personal details of that man, including his home address and pictures of his wife and children, were published last Friday in a video that was ostensibly circulated in Gaza, along with a call for the “terrorist Yekutiel” to be attacked. The Tel Aviv police and the Shabak are handling the threat.

It did not take long for the terrorist’s identity to be revealed. The first reports of the attack were received at 1:08 p.m., but all that was reported at that time was that a number of people had been injured by a car on Rechov Pinchos Rosen in Tel Aviv. Most of the victims were evacuated to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah, while a lightly injured female victim was taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. Dr. Alon Nevet, the deputy director-general of Beilinson Hospital, reported that evening, “Three individuals suffering from stab wounds were brought to the trauma unit. The patients are 30, 66, and 76 years of age, respectively. One patient was stabbed in the abdomen and shoulder and is listed in serious condition; he is presently in the operating room. Another patient suffered a stab wound to the chest and is also in serious condition and currently undergoing surgery. The third victim suffered stab wounds to the face and is not in need of surgery at this time. It is not yet possible to determine whether the seriously wounded victims are out of danger.”

A Hamas spokesman hailed the attack in Tel Aviv as a “first response to the crimes of the occupation against our people in the refugee camp of Jenin,” adding that “the resistance has stressed that the occupying force will pay for its crimes against Jenin.” Of course, the Hamas spokesman was referring to the IDF’s counterterror operation in Jenin, dubbed Operation Home and Garden, which concluded very quickly after it began.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site of the attack, where he called on Israeli citizens to carry arms and came under a hail of angry shouts from the local residents, at which point he left the area. “The civilian hero who killed the terrorist must be credited for saving lives,” Ben-Gvir declared. “This should be our policy: to give the citizens weapons to defend themselves. With a quick and professional move, the civilian neutralized the threat. I call on the citizens of Israel to carry weapons, because it is impossible to station a police officer on every street. Our policy [regarding issuing gun licenses] will be as lenient as possible.”

Another Soldier Killed in the Line of Duty

Friday was a sad day in Israel, when we learned that First Sergeant Shilo Yosef Amir, a 22-year-old IDF soldier from the community of Merav, was killed on Thursday during a military operation near Kedumim. Amir was buried in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl. IDF forces mapped out the terrorist’s home in the village of Qibya, in preparation for demolishing the structure as a punishment for his crime.

The terrorist arrived at the junction near Kedumim in the Shomron and opened fire, killing the Israeli soldier. The terrorist was then eliminated by security forces. Shilo’s mother, Orly, said through her tears, “Who can imagine how a mother feels when her most precious treasure is taken away from her? My heart refuses to accept this; it has been broken to pieces.”

The commander of the Givati brigade, in which the murdered soldier served, addressed the victim posthumously: “You were always the first to volunteer, the first to take action, and the first to fight. You carried out every mission to the fullest. You were a good and beloved friend to your fellow soldiers, and you always made an effort to boost morale. Yesterday, even though you could have gone home, you chose to join the military operation, in which you confronted the terrorist and prevented harm to civilians.”

The terror attack in Kedumim came on the heels of the attack in Tel Aviv that wounded nine victims and the death of IDF soldier Dovid Yehuda Yitzchak of Beit El during the IDF’s withdrawal from the refugee camp of Jenin. On motzoei Shabbos, Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi conducted a situation assessment and an initial probe of the incident at the settlement of Kedumim. According to the initial findings, it seems that the terrorist arrived in Kedumim with the goal of infiltrating the settlement, and when he did not succeed in doing so, he set out in his car and opened fire on a civilian patrol and a group of soldiers from the Givati brigade who were operating between the Jit Junction and Gilad, where they were conducting security inspections. Shilo Amir was killed by terrorist gunfire, and the terrorist was eliminated shortly thereafter. Shilo had been a student in the Keshet pre-military academy in the Golan before his enlistment in the IDF. Rabbi Shilo Maron, who taught the victim during his time in the academy, spoke admiringly about his former student: “He had a captivating smile; he was always filled with life and joy…. At the end of the year in the school, every student writes an article on a subject of his choice to be included in a book published by the school. Shilo chose to wrote about the posuk of Shema Yisroel,” he observed.

Missile Fired from Lebanon

Another incident was brought to my attention while I prepared this column on Sunday afternoon: A female terrorist attempted to commit a stabbing attack at the light rail station in Ammunition Hill in Yerushalayim and was neutralized by a security guard. Police chief Kobi Shabtai was in the vicinity at the time—in his office, in fact, which is located across the street from the station—and raced to the site of the attack, where he received the first account of the incident from the security guard who spotted the terrorist. Images of the police chief and his personal bodyguard rushing across the street flooded the media that afternoon.

The suspect was shot but not killed by a security guard and was lightly injured and provided with medical treatment. Meanwhile, police officers flooded the area, which was closed to the public to enable the police to collect evidence. Light rail service was suspended between Givat HaMivtar and Shaar Shechem in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and the trains continued running on a partial schedule in other areas pending authorization from the police to resume full operations. Of course, the clear lesson to be learned is that all of us here in Israel are surviving by miracles.

Speaking of miracles, security experts claim that the situation in the West Bank and on the border with Lebanon is extremely volatile at this time, and that there is a real possibility that a full-scale war may erupt soon, making the operation in Jenin seem like child’s play in comparison. One of the signs of the potential for hostilities is the fact that a missile was launched from Lebanese territory on Thursday after a very long period of quiet. I do not wish to make any dire predictions, but we must certainly daven fervently for Hashem to protect us.

On a somewhat unrelated note, an appalling incident took place this week when a group of Arabs filmed themselves cruelly abusing a chareidi Jew who is mentally impaired. The video of this wicked abuse was shocking and heartrending. The perpetrators were quickly taken into custody, and the police decided to repay them for their shameful behavior by publishing a picture of the suspects standing next to an Israeli flag. This led to a debate as to whether the police acted correctly.

Bleeding Hearts Suddenly Object to Water Cannons

The judicial reform is still in progress, and the protests against it have likewise not abated. The demonstrators do not seem to care that the actual legislation being passed now is fairly trivial, and the reform is not moving forward in its full form. At this time, the Knesset is dealing only with the law eliminating the reasonability test, and I find it very difficult to understand why anyone should oppose such a law. In my view, it makes perfect sense for the Knesset to deprive the judges of the power to overturn laws passed by the legislature. Why should the judges’ concept of reasonability be any more important than the views of the legislators or the executive branch? But it is clear that the demonstrators’ real concern is the very existence of the current government, regardless of the specifics of the reform.

The reasonability clause is due to be discussed in the Knesset this week (likely before this newspaper goes to print), and the protestors have promised to continue their demonstrations. They have already warned that Tuesday will feature the “mother of all protests.” Incidentally, during a demonstration on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, which is a major traffic artery, a protestor suffered an injury to his eye from a water cannon used by the police, which led to public outrage. The media reported at first that the man had lost his eye, although it was later revealed that this was untrue. Nevertheless, these reports led to a wave of calls for the police to stop using water cannons altogether. And that was a tremendous show of hypocrisy. For many years, the police have been using cannons to spray chareidi, right-wing, and Ethiopian protestors with regular water and even skunk water, yet the same “intellectuals” never uttered a peep in protest. It was only when left-wing anti-government protestors got a taste of the water cannons that they suddenly became indignant.

This isn’t the only instance of the appalling double standard practiced by the Israeli left. Whenever chareidim, right-wing protestors, or Ethiopians block roads, there are dozens of arrests and demonstrators are viciously beaten. But in the protests against judicial reform, both in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, the protestors have been handled with kid gloves. This week, the cabinet decided to hold a discussion at its weekly session about the apparent double standard in law enforcement. Before the session, the attorney general made the astounding comment that the cabinet is legally prohibited from discussing the matter, since they might influence the law enforcement authorities by doing so. Of course, her objections were ignored.

Meanwhile, the police commander in the Tel Aviv district was recently replaced. Amazingly, the police suddenly began cracking down on the protests as soon as he left his position, and the blocked roads were opened to traffic much more quickly. The reason, of course, is that the new commander brought new policies with him. The previous commander, Ami Eshed, was a known leftist who gave his backing to the protestors. As soon as he left the force, the official policy became much more sensible: The police adopted a policy of zero tolerance for protestors blocking major roads—which, of course, can actually endanger lives, especially for people rushing to the hospital in the event of a medical emergency.

Suddenly the Roads Are Open

Ami Eshed, the police chief in Tel Aviv, decided a while ago that he would leave Tel Aviv to take an office job. When he realized that he had no chance of becoming the next commissioner of the police force, he decided to resign. Last weekend, he delivered a speech that was heavily political in nature, making his own bias extremely clear.

“We could have cleared the Ayalon Highway within minutes,” Eshed announced, “but we would have paid the heavy price of broken skulls and shattered bones, and we would have broken the trust between the police and the citizens of this country…. In March, I was removed from my position in a phone call, for political reasons. Thirty-three years of service in uniform were lost in a moment, just as I reached the finish line in running for the office of police commissioner. This was all for the simple reason that I insisted on my officers following the law rather than breaking rules, procedures, and organizational order. We were expected to accept blatant interference in the decision-making process and in our operational judgment. I could easily have used unreasonable force and filled the emergency room in Ichilov Hospital by the end of every protest in Tel Aviv. I am paying an unbearably high personal price for my decision to prevent a civil war.”

Eshed added, “As a commander, I trained generations of police officers to recognize the limits of force and to preserve our contract with the public at all costs. During the protests, I insisted time and again that the Tel Aviv district under my command would prove that it is both possible and obligatory to allow a protest and to set clear boundaries for it according to the law. To my dismay, for the first time in my service of three decades, I have encountered a twisted reality in which I am expected to achieve not quiet and order, but rather the exact opposite.”

Barely anyone believed his claims. Many saw Eshed as a political figure who had been influenced by his views while still in uniform and adopted a policy that was different from the one dictated by the public security minister and the chief of police. Even the people on the left side of the political map felt that he had disgraced his uniform. (He even went so far as to deliver his speech in uniform.) Itamar Ben-Gvir wished him good luck in the upcoming election, in a clear hint to his true agenda. In any event, at the protest held on the day after Eshed’s resignation, there was a heavier and more determined police presence, complete with mounted officers and water cannons, and the roads were cleared much more quickly, even without hordes of protestors ending up in the emergency room.

Biden and Guterres Against Israel

It is no secret that President Joe Biden is not very fond of Bibi Netanyahu; however, his attack on the prime minister this week was a bit excessive. I presume that you have already heard about it through the American media, but I will share a few quotes from the president as well. In an interview with CNN, Biden was asked about the fact that Netanyahu still hasn’t been invited to the White House, in spite of the fact that his government was established over half a year ago. The president was asked if he plans to invite Netanyahu to the White House soon, and Biden pointed out that President Herzog will be visiting soon. He described the current right-wing Israeli government as “the most extreme that I have seen,” and he added that “Bibi, I think, is trying to work through how he can navigate the existing problems in his coalition.” Biden said that he still believes that the two-state solution is the correct way to work through the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and he criticized Netanyahu for the composition of his current government, claiming that it includes “one of the most extreme cabinet members I have ever seen, and I go all the way back to Golda Meir.”

Biden’s animus toward Israel is apparently shared by the United Nations. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, recently condemned Israel for its operation in Jenin and added that he “recognizes Israel’s legitimate concern for its security” but insisted that “escalation isn’t the solution.” Guterres added that “the use of aerial attacks is not consistent with accepted law enforcement operations.” The secretary-general also described the Israeli operation in Jenin as “the worst violence in Yehuda and Shomron in many years.” Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, responded sharply, “The secretary-general’s claims are shameful, farfetched, and completely detached from reality. The IDF operation in Jenin focused solely on thwarting murderous Palestinian terror attacks against innocent Israelis.”

Erdan went on to write, “Mr. Secretary, people left their homes in Jenin because they were invaded by murderous Palestinian terrorists. Civilian infrastructure was damaged because lowly Palestinian terrorists have been using mosques and hospitals to store weapons and as headquarters for their terror activities. Why are you ignoring the realities on the ground? Are the lives of Israeli citizens not important enough to justify fighting terror?” Erdan accused the secretary-general of repeatedly ignoring brutal acts of terror against Israelis and failing to condemn the murder of innocent civilians in cold blood, while condemning the IDF for working to destroy the terrorist infrastructure that was built for the purpose of harming innocent civilians. “The secretary-general also consistently ‘forgets’ that the people who were wounded in the IDF’s operations in Jenin were actually Palestinian terrorists,” he added.

The Government Confronts the Attorney General

As I wrote above, this Sunday the cabinet discussed the phenomenon of selective enforcement against protestors, overriding the objections of the attorney general, who insisted that the cabinet wasn’t permitted to discuss the subject at all. The ministers in the cabinet, including the prime minister, cannot tolerate the attorney general, who was appointed under the previous government by then-Justice Minister Gideon Saar, Netanyahu’s arch nemesis. The attorney general came to the cabinet session on Sunday and was forced to endure a barrage of criticism.

Netanyahu tried to be delicate. “The government has no intention of limiting the right to protest,” he said, “but the government does expect to receive a report about the policy on enforcement against the violations of the law that violate the basic rights of millions of citizens and that are being perpetrated almost daily during the protests…. These disruptions have taken the form of blocking of major traffic arteries and disrupting operations at the airport, calling for non-payment of taxes, harassing public figures and those around them, calls for sedition, promoting refusal to serve in the army with the goal of paralyzing entire units, and violations of the law in many other areas. The people must receive answers as to the policy concerning the enforcement of the law and whether it is a consistent policy.” Minutes later, Netanyahu left the meeting.

The attorney general was directly challenged by two ministers. Transportation Minister Miri Regev said bluntly, “I demand that the selective enforcement be stopped. Politics and personal views must be left out of these considerations.” National Security Minister Ben-Gvir challenged the attorney general to reveal how many indictments have been filed against protestors for disrupting the public order. Ben-Gvir and Justice Minister Yariv Levin also asked how many people have been indicted for conspiring to commit a crime by organizing the disturbances, and the attorney general admitted that there hasn’t been a single indictment. “Shame!” Ben-Gvir exclaimed. “There is no enforcement here!”

Smotrich also confronted the attorney general. “You are in a complete conflict of interest,” he told her. “The protestors are demonstrating for you, to preserve the destructive power that you and your colleagues in the judicial system have accumulated over the years. Instead of wasting time on pointless discussions, the coalition should simply pass laws. That is the best possible response to your conduct.”

Lieberman Spouts Hatred in the Knesset

Let’s move on to a few smaller items. First, one must wonder how much longer a handful of enemies of Yiddishkeit will continue fomenting hatred and chaos. Most of these people are rumored to be mentally unwell. But of course, there is no other possible interpretation for their behavior. Would any Jew of sound mind be opposed to people wearing yarmulkes and tzitzis? Would any normal person attack a man for setting up a tefillin stand? These are some of the things that have happened on the streets, but there are plenty of lunatics in the Knesset as well.

Last Tuesday, the Knesset held a special discussion on the subject of “equality in sharing the burden.” This was a cynical exploitation of the Knesset institution of “special days” dedicated to particular topics; this discussion was spearheaded by Yvette Lieberman as a vehicle for shameless hatemongering. It was saddening that the Knesset secretary allowed him to carry out this ploy; the secretary later defended his actions by arguing that Lieberman would have received even more publicity if the discussion had been canceled. But that is a ludicrous line of reasoning.

Lieberman was as vitriolic as ever. “The agreement between Ben-Gurion and the Chazon Ish in the early days of the state called for 400 talmidei yeshivos to be exempt from serving in the army,” he said. “Today, there are 170,000 men and boys in yeshivos and kollelim throughout the country, about 60,000 of whom are between the ages of 28 and 67.” Well, that should only be cause for us to give thanks to Hashem.

One of the speakers actually protested the use of a special day in the Knesset to sow division and animosity. Another speaker mocked the very notion of equality in sharing the burden. “Is there equality even among the soldiers in the IDF?” he asked pointedly. And Katy Sheetrit of the Likud party pointed out the many chareidi organizations that contribute to the state. “Are they not sharing the burden?” she demanded.

“Katy, are you serious?” demanded Sharon Nir of Yisrael Beiteinu.

Sheetrit held her own. “They contribute to the country as well,” she insisted. “You thrive on hatred, but it is enough already. It only causes destruction.”

But let us return to Lieberman’s speech. “I submitted a bill in the current Knesset that would require mandatory army service for everyone,” he said. “That bill was defeated because the members of the coalition are competing with each other to ingratiate themselves with the askanim of Shas and UTJ and are willing to compromise on values that they advocated not long ago. I promise that I, unlike them, will continue working for the values and principles on which the State of Israel was founded, and I will fight for complete equality in sharing the burden, without any gimmicks or compromises.”

Lieberman’s speech was equally distressing and entertaining. It was quite saddening to observe his sheer hatred, but it was also amusing to hear him preach to others about consistently upholding their moral values. Eliyohu Baruchi, who had his own turn at the podium, commented that Lieberman has flipflopped many times in his own views. In response, Lieberman invoked the right of a Knesset member who feels that he has been personally attacked to deliver a “personal statement.” Returning to the podium, Lieberman said, “I heard MK Baruchi’s slanderous words, and I have good reason for saying that he, like the other members of Shas and UTJ, is one of the people who have created a bogus version of Judaism. They are distorting the Jewish religion and its sources. Where is it written that it is forbidden to fight in the army?”

This was a complete misrepresentation of Baruchi’s remarks. He did not utter a single word of slander, nor did he say a word about whether it is permitted or forbidden to serve in the army. Lieberman was simply exploiting his right to a personal statement to add to his own slanderous diatribe. I cannot help but wonder why MK Nissim Vaturi, who was chairing the session, acquiesced to his request in the first place.

In any event, this week furnished me with an excellent piece of evidence against the anti-chareidi rhetoric peddled by Lieberman and his cohorts. This took place when MDA organized a blood drive in the Knesset, with the slogan, “Donate blood and save lives.” I watched the donors and discovered that there was an exceptionally high percentage of men with yarmulkes among them. Yitzchok Leibowitz, who teaches in MDA’s paramedic training program and represents the organization in the Knesset, was deeply pleased. In the end of the day, while the enemies of the Torah raged and fumed, the religious community hurried to contribute to the greater good.

Government Scorns Knesset Oversight

If I were to sum up a recent letter written by the Knesset’s legal advisor in just a few words, it would be: “The government shows contempt for the Knesset.” The actual title of the letter was a bit less blunt: “Difficulties in Implementing the Knesset’s Oversight of the Government and Determining the Government’s Obligation to Report to the Knesset and Its Committees.” The Knesset is the government body officially charged with overseeing the government. That is the purpose of many of its tools, such as parliamentary queries, motions for the agenda, and, above all, the Knesset committees, each of which oversees the relevant government ministry. When a government official is summoned to appear before a Knesset committee, that summons has the force of a legal obligation. Government agencies are also legally required to hand over any information requested by the Knesset Research and Information Center. According to the law, these requests must receive a response “without delay,” and any information requested by a committee must be submitted no later than 24 hours before it convenes. In practice, however, it seems that the government chooses to ignore its duties to the Knesset.

Sagit Afik, the Knesset legal advisor, wrote, “In spite of the requirements of the law and the regulations of the Knesset, it often happens that the Knesset, its committees, and the Research and Information Center encounter distinct difficulties in receiving information from some of the government ministries.” Afik added that she had personally contacted the attorney general and the legal advisors of various ministries that failed to supply information requested of them, but she received no response. She mentioned that certain officials failed to appear before the Knesset committees or to provide information that was requested by the committees. In some cases, they arrived with only partial information or sent lower-ranking officials to represent them. In addition, she criticized the practice of government ministers sending proxies to deliver the responses required of them to the Knesset, and she was incensed by the government’s disdainful attitude toward parliamentary queries. She also expressed her displeasure with the cancellation of “question hour,” an institution that was established on a temporary basis during the 20th Knesset, in which the prime minister or another government minister could be required to spend a full hour responding to questions regarding their spheres of responsibility. The legal advisor offered a number of suggestions to resolve the problems that she had identified. For the time being, the government has reacted by publishing a schedule of the ministers’ appearances before the various Knesset committees.

Davening for Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi

At this time, everyone in Eretz Yisroel is concerned about the well-being of Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, the rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel and one of the most venerable roshei yeshivos of our generation. Rav Ezrachi was rushed to Hadassah Hospital in Yerushalayim on Shabbos after suffering from respiratory distress and is currently sedated and intubated to make it easier for him to breathe. The religious community in Israel is davening fervently for his recovery and tensely awaiting news of his status. After I finish writing this column, I plan to hurry to the Kosel for a tefillah gathering on his behalf, which was scheduled for 11:00 at night. May Hashem send him a refuah sheleimah very soon.





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