Several major Chassidic leaders have called on their yeshivos to cancel summer vacation due to the ongoing fighting in Gaza, and have directed their followers to learn Torah during that time instead as a means of “spiritual protection” for the soldiers and residents of the South.
The Gerer Rebbe told his students to return home for the upcoming Tishah B’Av fast only, and to return to yeshiva learning immediately thereafter to help on the “spiritual front” of the Israeli war effort. Tishah B’Av traditionally marks the start of the summer vacation for yeshivas.
The Belzer Rebbe has similarly forbidden his students to go hiking during the traditional break time and has instead instituted a Torah-study schedule emphasizing morality and spiritual strength.
Mainstream Sephardic leaders, including the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, or Rishon l’Tzion, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, have also called for post-Tishah B’Av vacation to be canceled. “If the war continues after Tishah B’Av,” Rabbi Yosef stated, “the boys should not leave during this time. We must continue to learn; it’s not right to be out as our boys are on the front.”
According to Kikar HaShabbat, a blanket announcement was also released to this effect from the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, a chareidi umbrella organization encompassing leadership from several factions and institutions, including both Chassidic and “Lithuanian” Ashkenazim. Members listed as of 2012 included Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinman, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, Rabbi Yitzchok Scheiner, Rabbi Baruch Dov Stefanski, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rabbi Aryeh Finkel, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Schlesinger, Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch, and Rabbi David Cohen.
Later Wednesday the rosh yeshiva of the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem—considered one of the foremost Religious Zionist Torah institutions—added his voice to the calls to intensify, rather than wind down, Torah study during the summer holidays. In a letter to his students, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira said that the entire Jewish people must stand together, both physically and spiritually, at a time of war.
“We are all together in a campaign for the honor of our people, for the honor of our land; we stand together in prayer for the welfare of our soldiers at the front lines, for their success and safe return,” the letter stated. (Arutz Sheva) ϖ