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Whether or not haredi Jews should be required to serve in the IDF is a perennial question of Israeli politics, one that has caused political parties to form and disband, governing coalitions to rise and fall. It was the subject of a 2021 episode of this podcast with the haredi judge, editor, and rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer. This question has taken on a new intensity lately, as the October 7 attacks and Israel’s war in Gaza have unified most of the country in a belief that the haredi draft exemption is unsustainable, unwise, and unjust.

This week, Pfeffer joins Jonathan Silver again to talk about how the matter now looks from within the haredi community. They discuss how Israeli haredim reacted to the October 7 attacks, the experience of the small number of haredim who have been serving in military operations since the war began, and what Pfeffer thinks they should do. Notably, he argues that, as a matter of Jewish belonging, haredi men ought to enlist and help to protect their country.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.