Hesder (in Hebrew: "arrangement"; or Yeshivat Hesder ישיבת הסדר) is an Israeli
yeshivaprogram which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework. These "yeshivot" allow religious Jews to fulfill the ideal of full and active participation in the defense of the Israeli people, while still engaging in intense Torah studyduring their formative years.
Framework and description
Hesder service usually lasts a total of five years, within which participants are officially soldiers in the IDF. Through those five years, 16 months are dedicated to actual army service, comprising both training and active duty. In some Hesder Yeshivas service lasts six years of which 24 months are dedicated to actual army service. Almost all Hesder Yeshiva students serve in the army as combat soldiers. The remainder of the time in Hesder is designated for full time
Torah study. Some students study for several years after this mandatory term.
The typical "Yeshivat Hesder" functions along the lines of a traditional Orthodox yeshiva, with an emphasis on in-depth study of the
Talmud. However, the curriculum of a Hesder yeshiva often additionally includes an increased focus on Tanakhand Jewish Philosophy. In addition, most "Yeshivot Hesder" encourage their students to spend time helping the needy in surrounding communities.
Many of the "Yeshivot Hesder" also support a "
Kollel" and offer a " Semicha" (" rabbinic ordination") program, usually in preparation for the "Semicha of the Rabbanut"; many Hesder graduates also obtain semicha from Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Since 1990, various hesder yeshivot have established, or are associated with, teachers' institutes. Graduates of these yeshivot are thus often active in the educational system of the national-religious, both as rabbis and as teachers.
Most "Yeshivot Hesder" have 150-300 students, while some of the larger ones have 400-500 students and a few have less than 100 students. A number have programs for students from the Diaspora lasting one or two years. The most prominent of these programs are those of
Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, Yeshivat Shaalvim, Yeshivat HaKoteland Yeshivat Har Etzion.
As an alternative to Hesder, many high school students opt to study at a one-year "mechina" and then proceed to a regular period of military service.
The first "Yeshivat Hesder" was
Kerem B'Yavneh, founded in 1953 (with its program modelled on Nahal; a unit combining time on a (frontier) kibbutzwith army service). Today there are 41 "Yeshivot Hesder" spread throughout Israel. In 1991, the "Yeshivot Hesder" were awarded the Israel Prizefor their exceptional contribution to the nation.
The legal standing of yeshivot taking part in the Hesder program was regulated for years by orders of the Israeli Minister of Defense. In
1999, a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court invalidated such orders dealing with exemptions from service of Haredi yeshiva students. As it was much less controversial, that ruling didn't deal with the Hesder program. However, the new Knesset's law concerning Haredi yeshiva student exemptions also included an article concerning the legal status of Hesder service and "yeshivot". More recently, there has been growing concern that the groups of young men studying and serving together in the IDF will be broken down into smaller groups and dispersed across the branches and corps of the IDF.
List of Yeshivot
Israel Defense Forces
* [http://www.hesder.org.il/ Yeshivat Hesder] , אתר ישיבות ההסדר (Hebrew)
* [http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/ral2-hes.htm The Ideology of Hesder] , Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein
* [http://www.kby.org/history/history.cfm History of Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh] , kby.org
* [http://www.yesmalot.co.il/eng/1001.html Ideological Basis of Hesder] , Yeshivat Hesder Maalot
* [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/676488.html Defense Ministry tries to reach deal with Hesder Yeshiva] , Ha'aretz
* [http://www1.idf.il/DOVER/site/mainpage.asp?clr=1&sl=EN&id=7&docid=42378.EN We have a mission and we will complete it] , "Israeli Defense Forces" Official Website
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