haredi judaism

A large number of Jews in Israel appear to tolerate their State under sufferance. The Haredi for example who are making headlines in Israel at the moment with their opposition to conscription and the proposed Sabbath Bus service in Tel Aviv.

Haredim are easily recognisable, the men in their black suits and wide-brimmed black hats, the women in long skirts, thick stockings, and headcoverings.  Often called "ultra-Orthodox" they are noted for their absolute reverence for Torah, both the Written and Oral Law, which guides all parts of their lives.

The Holocaust shaped Haredi Judaism. With their communities and centres of worship in Europe destroyed, faithful Jews moved in the main to the United States and Israel - which has the largest concentration of Haredi (estimated at around 800,000). Because of their explosive birthrate, set to double within the next decade, Haredi Judaism may very well come to dominate the Jewish world in years to come.

Haredi Jews usually live in their own exclusive communities, with their own schools and Universities . Many are fundamentally opposed to today’s, pre-messianic Jewish state and some groups are steadfastly anti-Zionist. Many don't serve in the army. At present, those studying at Yeshiva (Orthodox Jewish College or University ) are exempted from military service. Tens of thousands of Haredi students are therefore not required to do military service and this may cause Israel big problems in the future. For the Yeshiva students themselves said they would rather be killed than join the Israeli Defence Force.

Of the Haredi, the website Haaretz.com stated, ‘Their ardent and uncompromising devotion to their principles, together with their prodigious birth rate, virtually assure that the Haredi community will be a major force in shaping the Judaism of the future.’

Israel is rapidly becoming a more and more religious nation and with time the religious segments will dominate simply by sheer numbers. These factors are pushing Israel to a "moment of truth". Will the nation be secular or religious? The Haredi stance on the State of Israel varies with different Groups but if a large proportion of Israelis were to refuse to fight for a country, whose existence they oppose, how would this affect its ability to protect itself?


Some religious Jews, however, are making their mark politically on the Jewish State. For example the ultra-orthodox religious political party, Shas (an acronym for Sephardi Torah Guardians in Hebrew) has at times been able to exert disproportionate influence by gaining control of the balance of power in the Knesset. Shas is Israel's fourth largest party, holding four cabinet posts. A strong advocate of Halakha, (the Jewish religious law) with extreme views on both religion and the State, it recommends the Haredi lifestyle, believes in a 'United Jerusalem' and opposes any freeze in Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

Opposition to the State of Israel

Those who oppose the very existence of the State of Israel consider it to be a rebellion against the Creator who expelled them from the land.

The group ‘Jews against Zionism’ states. ‘The Holy Land was given to the Jewish people on the condition that they observe the Torah and its commandments. When they failed to do this, their sovereignty over the land was taken from them, and they went into exile. From that time, we are prohibited by the Torah with a very grave prohibition to establish a Jewish independent sovereignty in the Holy Land or anywhere throughout the world.’

This Group quote the Torah but the Old Testament Scriptures, from which the Torah is derived, declare that it is God’s will to restore the Jews to the land. He has indeed banished them twice from the land, but has promised that He will bring them back. Ezekiel’s prophecy is very clear about this. In Ch. 37, Ezekiel is shown a vision of a valley full of dry bones and is asked the question

3  Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

4  Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5  Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:.......and the explanation comes in verse 11

11  Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

12  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

13  And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

14  And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

This is a clear promise that God will bring Israel back to the land and the faithful Jew ought to see their return as a part fulfilment of that promise.

The Jews have come back in unbelief, they do not yet ‘know the LORD’ but this prophecy is a certain proof that God keeps His promises and has not rejected Israel. Ezekiel 36 promises that they will ultimately be given a new heart, in other words they will become a religious Nation.

26  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:

27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

28  And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The Prophet Jeremiah also promises their restoration to the Promised Land.

Jer 31:27 ¶  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

28  And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.

Then there is the promise in the New Testament of the restored Kingdom of Israel with Jesus as its King. Luke 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David

Israel, Secular or Religious?

Modern Israel is indeed a secular Sate which trusts in its own strength and not in its Creator. But,  Jesus at his return will bring about a complete change. The prophet Jeremiah continues in Ch 31:34: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." At that time repentant Jews will make a new Covenant with God.(v31) "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:"and Verse 33 continues, "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

This conversion won’t happen gradually as today’s Jews expect but will start with the dramatic arrival of Elijah, God’s "messenger of the covenant" who will prepare the Jews for accepting their Messiah. Malachi chapter 3vv 1-4

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."

And other Old Testament prophets foretell that in the Kingdom of God, this currently beleaguered land will be THE Nation to which all people will come to learn of the LORD.

Mic 4:2  And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Zec 8:22  Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.


The growing number of Jews who are putting their trust in God rather than the Nation’s strength and who are turning away from secularism to the Law of Moses are surely a sign that the return of Jesus is near. The Jews still have a way to go. They need to return to their roots, move away from the restricting Oral Traditions and get back to God’s Word. Most probably this won’t happen till their Messiah returns but for the present this is an exciting start!

 Acknowledgements: image from Wikipedia used under the GNU license