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Tal Commission

The Tal Commission was a public committee appointed in 1998 by Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, dealing with exemption from military service of Yeshiva students. The commission was chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Tzvi Tal, and its members were Cabinet Secretary Isaac Herzog, attorney Yaakov Weinrot, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense Haim Israeli, Secretary of the Committee for Yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael Rabbi Asher Tenenboim, former head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate Moshe Nativ, Mayor of Hadera and former Police Major General Israel Sadan, deputy legal advisor to the defense system Rachel Stuvitzky, Mayor of Bnei Brak Rabbi Mordechai Kerlitz, and Deputy Attorney General Yehoshua Shufman.

The commission was appointed following the Supreme Court ruling (Rubinstein vs. Minister of Defense) that the Minister of Defense has no authority to determine inclusive exemption from military service to Yeshiva students. The ruling further elaborated on the need for a legislative solution, dealing with all aspects of the issue.

The appeal to the court was made due to the increase in numbers of Yeshiva students whose military service was delayed due to postponement relating to the “Torah study as vocation” arrangement. The arrangement implied that a Yeshiva student needs to devote all his time to study Torah without having to deal with a paying job. In 1998, when the commission was installed, this arrangement applied to approximately 30,000 men.

The commission was asked to recommend the appropriate way to authorize the Minister of Defense, through his means of administrative reasoning, to provide such exemptions or postponements and to propose a law regarding this matter.

The commission was also asked to deliberate the possibility that an exemption or postponement will take effect regardless of the number of Yeshiva students, as there was no intention of interrupting their studies within a legislative framework. It was also asked to look into the development of possible alternative frameworks for Haredi citizens and recommend how the Minister of Defense should act in this regard. Among the ideas discussed were lowering the age of exemption from service, minimal military training, and relevant training for Haredi citizens choosing to integrate into the job market. The commission was asked to make its recommendations taking into consideration the possibilities and needs of the IDF.

The recommendations of the commission were presented in April 2000, serving as a basis for the legislation of the Deferral of Military Service for Yeshiva Students Law (Temporary Order), 5761-2001 (also called the "Tal Law") on March 7th 2001. The law was later expanded and approved in its updated version on July 23rd 2002. It included an option for allowing exemption from service under specific terms, also stating that at the age of 22, Yeshiva students will be provided with a “decision year,” for choosing between a one-year unpaid civil service job alongside a paying job, or a shortened 16-month military service and future service in the reserves.

The commission recommended that the IDF be prepared to absorb the Haredi public within these frameworks, as well as to expand the Haredi-oriented military units. It also recommended that those included in the arrangement be carefully supervised and checked while enforcing the set conditions.

On July 18th 2007, the Knesset ratified the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to extend the validity of the law for another five years.

(August 2010)

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