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Hardal (also Chardal; Hebrew: חרד"ל, חרדי לאומי Translit.: Haredi Le-umi Plural: Hardalim Translated: National Haredi) refers to those Ultra-Orthodox Jews who support the ideology of Religious Zionism.

History and groups

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."

According to some sources, the term Hardal was created at a meeting of the youth group EZRA in 1990. (Ezra is the Poalei Agudah youth group associated with Torah im Derech Eretz.) 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. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner was a major ideologue for this group.

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.

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."

The term Hardal is sometimes used to refer to those coming from the Haredi world who join Nahal Haredi (the shortened army service for Yeshiva graduates) and continue to live within the broader Hardal world. It is also sometimes used for American Yeshivish Jews who moved to Israel and support the state.

Political Positions

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 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.

Ideological crisis and political schism

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[1] 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.[2] Thus, their support for the State is conditional on the State's adherence to Torah law.[3]

Some have ceased waving the Israeli flag, saying prayers for the State of Israel and no longer celebrate Independence Day. On Independence Day, when millions of Israelis attach Israeli flags to their cars, some of these Hardalim refused to wave the flag. A handful even attached black flags with orange ribbons (signifying opposition to expulsions from Jewish villages in the West Bank). The custom of black flags on Independence Day comes from the Haredi anti-Zionist world, most notably Neturei Karta. Others Hardal leaders, particularly Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, have declared that they continue to support the State regardless.

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.[4]

Distinctions from other movements

The Hardalim, while similar to the mainstream Haredim in their shunning and animosity against non-Orthodox schools and schisms as well as their general shunning of many modern societal trappngs, is mostly separated from the Haredi world by their outright pro-settlement stance and activity, as well as their primarily-rural- or village-based demographic; the Haredim are rarely found among supporters of settlements in the West Bank, and have been historically noted for their vacillation between bare support for the state or outright hostility to the state's existence (the latter being demonstrated by the Neturei Karta sect).

Despite their roots within Modern Orthodox Judaism and Religious Zionism, the Hardalim have become increasingly distinguished from both currents while simultaneously retaining continuity with them in theology and ideology. The Hardalim have vacillated in their support for the state compared to the continuous desire for religious settlement and residency in the Yesha as according to their interpretation of halacha regarding the settlements; as a result, the Hardalim have increasingly become opposed to the state's actions against settlement, and they have formed the religious hardcore of the anti-disengagement movement in the 2000s.


Some influential leaders of the Hardal world include former Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Shapira of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva and Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. 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.

Other important Rabbis and thinkers of the Hardal movement are:

  • Rabbi Zalman Melamed, his son Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
  • Rabbi Elyakim Levanon
  • Rabbi Dov Lior, rabbi of Kiryat Arba
  • Rabbi David Dudkevitch of Yitzhar
  • Rabbi Shmuel Tal
  • Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
  • Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
  • Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
  • Daniella Weiss, Former Mayor of Kedumim Village in Samaria
  • Professor Hillel Weiss, of "Professors for a Strong Israel"
  • Rabbi Aryeh Bina (1912-1994)


Many Hardalim live in Yesha (West Bank) towns. The town of Kiryat Arba, led by its Rabbi Dov Lior, is considered a Hardal stronghold as is the town of Beit El, led by Rabbi Melamed and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. They are also predominant in many Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, such as Yitzhar, Bat Ayin, Ofra, Shilo, and Hebron. There are yeshivot in Ramat Gan and Yerucham which are seen as Hardal yeshivot. Some Jerusalem neighborhoods are also Hardal strongholds, such as Har Nof, Kiryat Moshe and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

Literal meaning

While the subject of the article, Hardal, is an acronym, it is also the Hebrew word for mustard.


External sources

See also

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Hardal. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.