The Ironic Result of Military Service

An ironic result of military service on the part of those Haredim whose attachment to radical religion was feeble is, paradoxically, the strengthening of their religiosity and their subsequent return to the embrace of Haredism.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Prof. Gideon AranIt is precisely those who have stopped putting on phylacteries for daily morning prayer, who return to observing this commandment and others as part of their military service, and as part of what becomes taken for granted in a framework with strong group pressures.

A total institution with uncompromising standards that encourages the revival of Haredi sentiment and the strengthening of Haredi consciousness. In the Haredi Nachal, Talmud study or reciting of blessings is performed as military routines.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Gideon Aran.

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The Haredi And Purim – The Jewish Traditional Carnival

The Haredi imagination is intrigued by physicality, adventurism and by military life. This can be deduced from indirect evidence, such as analysis of children’s and youth’s costumes on Purim – the Jewish traditional carnival.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Purim in Mea ShearimCostumes may subtly express identification with an ideal model, yearning for something far-off and the playing out of fantasies. Apart from Haredi popular disguises as exemplary figures from Jewish mytho-history (such as the High Priest, the Prophet Moses or King David), Haredim are also fond of disguises of contemporary modern Israeli figures, mainly pilots, paratroopers, policemen and firemen.

The latter – all Zionist icons – represent physicality, manliness and action-seeking. As already mentioned, Haredim tend to equate Zionism with activism, violence and an emphasis on the body. This Haredi tendency reveals hidden admiration and envy of Zionism, due, among other reasons to its perception as made of elements of virility and aggressiveness.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Gideon Aran.

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Result of The Geo-Political Circumstances

As a result of the geo-political circumstances of the past several years, there are a considerable number of Haredim who have need of firearms. Not only do they accept the carrying of pistols and guns and training in marksmanship, but do so with enthusiasm.

Written By Gideon Aran 

Gideon AranHaredim who carry guns and shoot them often look like kids enjoying a new toy. Experienced shooting (and martial arts) instructors testify that Haredim are their most gung-ho clients. They learn and practice “in earnest” and “get high” on their energies in performance. Compared with the secular or even the national-religious (including West Bank settlers), Haredi shooting is the most aggressive and ecstatic.

We have been told that hey use up twice as much ammunition as members of other groups. There is also a proliferation of militaristic images within the Haredi world itself. Note some typical idioms like: the Yeshiva students “kill themselves in the tent of Torah”; some Hasidic circles regard themselves as “Armies of God’; and the trucks they send to proselytize other Jews are named “Commandment Tanks”.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Prof. Gideon Aran.

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The Attraction to the physical and machoistic characteristics

Attraction to the physical and machoistic characteristics basic to an army career becomes revealed in the Haredi world in many ways, including buds of paramilitary, if not truly militaristic culture.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran 

Gideon Aran

Gideon Aran

For instance, take the adulation of Haredim towards generals who are decorated war veterans, even if it be known that they eat non-kosher foods and violate the Sabbath. Haredim are also amazingly knowledgeable about the details of acts of heroism of underground fighters against the British and of Israel Defense Forces fighters.

They take pride in their familiarity with the minutest details of incidents which have been long forgotten, incidents which embody the qualities of level-headedness, initiative under pressure, risk-taking, self-sacrifice, physical strength, and so on.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Gideon Aran.

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Prof. Gideon Aran: Commanders of the Haredi Battalion

Commanders of the Haredi battalion find it difficult to reconcile the natural tendency to cultivate fighters’ pride in their unit with the requirement to admit their inferiority relative to full-time yeshiva scholars.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

Gideon Aran

Gideon Aran

Moreover, the tendency to cover up the embarrassing fact that the battalion is composed entirely of yeshiva drop-outs clashes with the explicit statement they are required to make that had they not been drafted they would not have continued their Torah education. While publicly undertaking not to entice the gifted and the motivated away from the Torah study, in practice there is a tendency to attract such students for army service in order to raise the prestige of the battalion and to ensure its high religious and military standards. Continue reading

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Gideon Aran: The Haredi unit in the late 1990s

The Haredi unit was established in the late 1990s following the initiative of army officers of the National-Religious sector who made contact with certain Haredi rabbis of rather marginal and somewhat controversial status in their community, and who specialized in dealing with the delicate problem of the yeshiva drop-outs.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran

In the early years only a few dozen were drafted. At present, every cohort includes about a hundred Haredim and all together they constitute a regular battalion. They serve in the army for three full years, two of them in a far-away camp in the desert, where training is combined with operational activity.

Their main function is guarding the eastern frontier and preventing infiltration of terrorists from Jordan, as well as ambush and pursuit of terrorists from the West Bank. They spend another year in Jerusalem, where they divide their time between Torah study and academic and technological training aimed to enable them to enter the labor market after discharge. Continue reading

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Prof. Gideon Aran: Nachal Haredi – The Popularly Labeled

The phenomenon discussed here is popularly labeled Nachal Haredi,though its name was officially changed into the more religiously Jewish sounding Netzach Yehuda (Eternal Judea). This is a real fighting unit, with an exhausting course of training and dangerous operational duties.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran



This unit is, however, officially designated as Haredi, and is fashioned appropriately. In addition to homogeneity and exclusivity in makeup, this unit enjoys special conditions designed to serve, and even further, its religious needs.

For example, special time periods are set aside for prayer and Talmud study within the unit’s intensive schedule. Moreover, not only is there concern that the command will be in religious hands, but teachers and religious “supervisors” are brought in from the outside, to oversee ongoing observance and indoctrination.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Prof. Gideon Aran.


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Gideon Aran: Fundamentalist Violence and Military Service

The Haredim refuse to be conscripted into Israel Defense Forces. For years now they have been exempted by the State of Israel from this demanding duty despite the resentment of the majority of the Jewish population who complain of the unequal distribution of the heavy load of national security.

Written By Gideon Aran

The fact that in their bitter clashes with the police the Haredim often show an impressive level of physical performance gives rise to a lay reaction to the tune: ‘Well, since it turns out that the Haredim are not only bold and aggressive, but are also strong and athletic, there is no reason why they should not serve in the army’. Some, very few individual Haredim used to join the army in the past, though filling only a particular niche, serving in auxiliary jobs such as teachers or kashruth supervisors.

Continue reading

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Gideon Aran: The Haredi Violence is Sometimes Inner-Oriented

The Haredi violence is sometimes inner-oriented. Not only as part of inter-group friction mentioned before, but also in a semi-institutional, partly controlled framework.

Written By Gideon Aran

It is a coercive intra-communal violence aimed at reinforcement of conformity and performed by the Modestly Squads (mishmarot tzni’ut). The latter’s activity can be defined as ‘moralistic vigilance’, which is not unknown in the history of other cultures. Some analogies can be found in Puritan authoritarian regimes, especially following revivalism or religious revolution as in Calvinist Geneva. Continue reading

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Gideon Aran – Is there a relationship between the Chief and the jealousy?

Gideon Aran talking about the attitude of the religious fanaticism of religious rabbinate. The lecture was held at the World Congress of Jewish Studies 15th issue of contemporary religious fanaticism.

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