25 December 2017

HARDAL: Bringing Together The Best From Both Worlds?

7 Tevet 5778

 What is Hardal?
(Taken from Religion Wiki)

The term Hardal is part of a broad process of certain groups of Religious Zionist youth becoming more strict in certain religious observances and more ideologically driven by the thought of Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook. In the late 1970s, graduates of Yeshivat Merkaz Harav began to reject certain aspects of the Religious Zionist and Bnei Akiva lifestyle. At that time, some of the graduates were already referred to as "plain-clothes Haredim."

...In later years, the term Hardal became a group that actually started separating itself from the broader religious Zionist community in order to dedicate itself to leading a life dedicated to strict Jewish practice, without the influence of outside culture. There was emphasis placed on modesty in dress and early marriage.

...All Hardalim built their thought on the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook as interpreted by his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook. This approach gives a great role for faith and messianism in Judaism. They also stress the study of Yehudah Halevi's Kuzari and the writings of the Maharal of Prague.

Rabbi Tzvi Yisrael Tau, shlit"a
In recent years, it refers to those under the influence of Rabbi Zvi Yisrael Tau, who left Yeshivat Merkaz Harav to found the more Hardalic Yeshivat Har Hamor. Rabbi Tau rejects secular studies and secular influences. He is also against any academic influence on teachers colleges, rejecting the influence of modern educational psychology and modern approaches to the study of Bible. Those who follow this approach are called followers of Yeshivat HaKav- "Yeshivot that follow the line."

...In terms of their political positions, the Hardalim are considered extremely hawkish and are identified with the right wing of the Israeli political map. They are not, however, identified with the Mafdal [replaced by Bayit Yehudi] or the Yesha Council, as these are claimed to be too moderate. They are firm believers in the concept of Greater Israel and often live in areas beyond the Green Line.

The disengagement plan lead to a schism within the movement. Har Hamor Yeshiva (with whom most members of the group are identified) taught that Torah study and prayer were no less important than physically resisting the disengagement, and thus fewer people took part in protests and political lobbying. Others within the movement, however, advocated more direct confrontation.

Following these events, much of the Hardal public abandoned the political parties which they had traditionally supported (such as the Mafdal) and began to support newer parties, such as Tkuma and Renewed National Religious Zionism (the two members of the National Union).

Rabbi Shmuel Tal, shlit"a
In earlier years, the Religious Zionist movement downplayed the reports of what some called traitorous actions of the Israeli Government, and the movement continued to stress its unconditional support of the state. However, since the call to implement Ariel Sharon's Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004 to withdraw the IDF from Gaza and Northern Samaria and to expel the Jews living there, the Hardalim have been undergoing an intense ideological crisis. Many, such as Rabbi Shmuel Tal have changed their ideological attitude toward the State of Israel, coming to see it not as an inherently valuable entity, but solely as a means to an end. To the extent that that end is not being realized, the state is not to be supported. Thus, they have come to believe that the State of Israel can no longer be considered "the beginning of the Redemption" as Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook taught. Thus, their support for the State is conditional on the State's adherence to Torah law.

Some have ceased waving the Israeli flag, saying prayers for the State of Israel and no longer celebrate Independence Day.

...This schism process was accelerated after the Israeli Police, attempted to evict extremist youths who came to protest against the expulsion and demolition of a group of houses in the West Bank Jewish village of Amona, near Jerusalem, after which allegations arose of police and army abuse of the protesters.

...Currently, one of the most important leaders is Rabbi Zvi Yisrael Tau, dean of Yeshivat Har Hamor, who leads the most conservative branch of Hardalim, who are now almost indistinguishable from the mainstream Haredi world.

Others strongly reject his loyal attitude towards the State, often termed as "Mamlachti'ut". One such Rabbi who opposes Rabbi Tau's approach is Rabbi Tal, who has instructed his students to cease celebrating Israeli Independence Day due to what many see as a betrayal of Zionist ideals by the Israeli government.

Most Hardalim fall somewhere in between.
...Leading Religious Zionist journalist Yair Sheleg agrees that the leadership is distinctly Ashkenazi, but points out that some are Mizrahi and that there are also warming ties between them. Tau, who almost never takes part in political events, made an appearance last year at the Yahad Party’s pre-election conference.
Rabbi Meir Mazuz and Rabbi Eliyahu Yishai
The party was established by former Shas leader Eli Yishai and includes both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi hardal rabbis, such as Meir Mazoz.  (Source) 
 HaRav Tal also reportedly supported Eli Yishai in the last election. 

I definitely fall "somewhere in between" and I suspect that Mashiach will arise out of this balanced middle ground - between Hareidim and National Religious, between State-worshipers and State-rejectors, between Ashkenazim and Sephardim.

In my considered opinion, these are the people to be watching for a glimpse of Mashiach. 

Related: Rabbi Tal: Disengagement from secular state

Of further interest: Philistines and the future of Zionism: The redemptive scenario of Rabbi Zvi Tau


  1. Agree that the middle path between the two is the correct one. We need a Torah true government in the Land of Israel which can lead the people back to their Jewish roots and, thus, bring Moshiach Ben Dovid b'rachamim.
    The leadership has completely lost its way and the SOI today is no different than the nations, r'l. Jewishness is being erased on a daily basis, c'v, in our holy Eretz Yisrael and the people need to wake up and remember who they really are: Jews first who is the true and real Israeli!