Hardal (also spelled Chardal; Hebrew: חרד״ל, acronym for חרדי לאומי Ḥaredi Le'umi, lit. '"Nationalist Haredi"', plural Hardalim) usually refers to the portion of the Religious Zionist Jewish community in Israel which inclines significantly toward Haredi ideology (whether in terms of outlook on the secular world, or in their stringent khumra approach to Halakha).
Hardal Jews are also known as Torani (lit., "Torah-oriented") or Torani-Leumi.
On yeshiva.org.il, "Chardal" is described as, "The people who classify themselves as 'Charedi Leumi', or 'Chardal', try to keep the Mitzvot strictly, Kalah Kechamurah [light and weighty matters alike], while being involved in the national life in the state, and in the settling of Eretz Yisrael." It has also been explained as the "Anglo Orthodox religious sector who follow a Charedi lifestyle, yet may also serve in the army in religious units, attend a Hesder yeshiva, and pursue a work career". Yet another explanation is, "those connected to the seriousness of Torah learning and stricter observance of Jewish Law - like the Charedim - but who are Zionist and have a more positive view of the secular world and Israel, like the dati leumi camp".
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.
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 Zvi Yehuda Kook (son of Abraham Isaac Kook). In the late 1970s, graduates of Mercaz HaRav yeshiva began to reject certain aspects of the Religious Zionist and Bnei Akiva lifestyle.
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. Shlomo Aviner was a major ideologue for this group.
In recent years, it refers to those under the influence of Zvi Thau, who left Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav to found the more Hardalic Yeshivat Har Hamor. Thau 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 the Bible. Those who follow this approach are called followers of Yeshivat HaKav - "Yeshivot that follow the line".
Several characteristics differentiate Hardalim from both the Haredi and the mainstream Modern Orthodox religious Zionist world:
Ashkenazi Hardalim might use the modern Hebrew/Sephardic pronunciation of the Hebrew language when praying, as modern Orthodox religious Zionists also do; this in contrast to Ashkenazi Haredim, who continue their tradition of using the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew.
Notable is the absence of Yiddish in Hardal society and speech.
Many Hardali families have chosen not to own a television, and are not consumers of the general popular culture, in contrast to many Modern Orthodox religious Zionists.
Hardalim typically dress like most Modern Orthodox religious Zionists, but place a slightly larger emphasis on appearing neat, wearing their tzitzit out of their pants, and wearing a significantly larger kippah. Like other religious Zionists, they usually wear colored knitted kippahs. In contrast to Haredim, many Hardalim do not wear only white shirts or a black outfit, and only a handful of Hardalim wear a jacket and a hat; these are usually only worn by the highest levels of rabbinic leadership of the Hardal world.
Hardalim see the return to the Land of Israel and its building as a very important mitzvah, since they believe we are in the dawn of the Messianic Age. Therefore, hiking in the land, building settlements, and knowledge of its flora and fauna are considered as mitzvot.
Most Hardalim say prayers for the State of Israel, mark the Israeli Independence Day, and Hardali men serve in the Israel Defense Forces, while most Haredim do not. An exception forms the small group of extreme right-wing Hardalim who firmly oppose the current State of Israel and want it dismantled, to subsequently replace it with a Torah-based theocracy.
Hardalim fiercely opposed Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005. While some Haredim also opposed the retreat and destruction of the Jewish communities, the Haredi rabbis did not condone active opposition; most adopted a neutral, passively resisting, or even supportive attitude.
Hardalim will usually respect the Da'as Torah of a personal rabbi, but are not as dependent as Haredim, who publicly and privately strictly adhere to the advice of their rabbinical leadership. In contrast, Modern Orthodox religious Zionists might have a personal rabbi, but are usually more independent.
Unlike their Modern Orthodox counterparts, Hardali men often grow payot (sidelocks), and an untrimmed beard.
Hardali women usually dress in clothing styles that are banned from the Haredi world for reasons of tzniut, such as shirts with texts on them (for example, against the expulsion of Jews from Gaza settlements in 2005), and bare feet in sandals.
Hardalim have in common the belief, most identified with Abraham Isaac Kook, that the Zionist movement and the state of Israel play a central role in the Messianic process. This belief is tested when the state takes steps that seem to undermine the Messianic process, particularly removing Jewish residents from settlements, and transferring the parts of Land of Israel to non-Jewish control. Hardalim variously lean towards one of two general approaches to this conflict.
- One approach resists compromising on Jewish control of the Land of Israel, even when this means conflict with the state of Israel. Thus, Hardalim comprised many of the most forceful opponents of anti-disengagement movement in the 2000s, and continue to actively oppose the removal of small settlements unauthorized by the government. Generally, this opposition is passive and verbal, but in rare cases, it has gone as far as vandalism of Israeli army property or stone-throwing at soldiers.
- A second approach, the "statist" approach, is more willing to accept the government's policy decisions and the "will of the Jewish people", even when it seems to conflict with other religious priorities. This group sees the State of Israel as an "entity of holiness" whose decisions have intrinsic value even when in tension with other religious values. This stream is identified with Yeshivat Har Hamor, which split off in 1997 from the flagship Hardali yeshiva Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav due to these and other theological differences.
The term statist also refers to many more moderate religious Zionists, who are willing to accept the "will of the Jewish people" as a consideration when it comes to many other issues, such as the secular nature of society. This latter group predates the Hardal movement by decades, and is identified much more with the mainstream Religious Zionist movement than with the Hardalim.
There are schools for both boys and girls located in Jerusalem, as well as in Ramat Beit Shemesh (Ahavat Yisrael). Their philosophy is "To adhere to an open Haredi approach to Halakha and lifestyle, while at the same time leaving the possibility for army service and university studies as a goal".
Many Hardalim live in Jerusalem and in West Bank settlements. The settlement town of Kiryat Arba, led by its Rabbi Dov Lior, is considered a Hardal stronghold, as is the town of Beit El, led by Rabbis Melamed and Shlomo Aviner. Hardalim are also predominant in many other settlements, including Yitzhar, Bat Ayin, Ofra, Shilo, and the Jewish parts of Hebron. There are yeshivot in Ramat Gan and Yerucham that 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.
Past leaders (deceased)
- Aryeh Bina (1912–1994)
- Mordechai Eliyahu, former Chief Rabbi of Israel (1929–2010)
- Avraham Shapira, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and dean of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva (1914–2007)
- Zvi Yehuda Kook, former dean of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva (1891–1982)
- Noah Weinberg, former dean of the Aish HaTorah yeshiva (1930–2009)
- Meir Kahane, former leader of Kach (1932–1990)
- Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, former leader of Kahane Chai (1966–2000)
- Shaul Yisraeli, former rabbi of Kfar Haroeh and dean of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva (1909–1995)
- Ya'akov Yosef, former dean of the Hazon Ya'akov yeshiva (1946–2013)
- Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, founder and former dean of the Siach Yitzchak yeshiva (1949–2007)
- Yeshayahu Hadari, former dean of the HaKotel yeshiva (1933–2018)
- Bezalel Smotrich, member of the kneset, leader of Tkuma, and co-founder of Regavim
- Rafi Peretz, former Education Minister and former leader of The Jewish Home
- Eli Yishai, leader of Yachad
- Dror Aryeh, leader of Noam
- Avi Maoz, MK for Noam
- Eli Ben-Dahan, former Deputy Defense Minister and leader of Ahi
- Baruch Marzel, former leader of the Jewish National Front
- Ya'akov Katz, former leader of the National Union
- Binyamin Elon, former leader of Moledet
- Michael Ben-Ari, chairman and spokesman for Otzma Yehudit
- Ben-Zion Gopstein, leader of Lehava
- Shalom Dov Wolpo, leader of Eretz Yisrael Shelanu and SOS Israel
- Yehuda Glick, leader of HALIBA and former Likud MK
- Hillel Horowitz, former Jewish Home MK
- David Bar-Hayim, head of the Machon Shilo Institute
- Yonatan Yosef, spokesman for Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah
- Yaakov Ariel, rabbi of Ramat Gan
- David Dudkevitch of Yitzhar
- Shmuel Eliyahu, rabbi of Safed
- Elyakim Levanon, rabbi of Elon Moreh
- Dov Lior, rabbi of Kiryat Arba
- Nachman Kahana, rabbi of Hazon Yichezkeil
- Zephaniah Drori, rabbi of Kiryat Shmona
- Yitzchak Sheilat, co-founder of Birkat Moshe yeshiva
- Zvi Thau, dean of the Har Hamor yeshiva and spiritual leader of Noam
- Nahum Rabinovitch, dean of the Birkat Moshe yeshiva
- Eliezer Waldman, dean of the Kiryat Arba yeshiva
- Haim Drukman, dean of the Or Etzion yeshiva
- Mordechai Elon, former dean of the HaKotel yeshiva
- Meir Mazuz, dean of the Kisse Rahamim yeshiva
- Zalman Melamed, dean of the Beit El yeshiva
- Eliezer Melamed, dean of the Har Bracha yeshiva
- Shmuel Tal, who has instructed his students to cease celebrating Israeli Independence Day due to what he sees as a betrayal of Zionist ideals by the Israeli government
- Yitzhak Shapira, dean of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva
- Shlomo Aviner, dean of the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva
- Yisrael Ariel, former rabbi of Yamit and founder of the Temple Institute
- Eli Sadan, founder and head of Bnei David Academy
- Daniella Weiss, former Mayor of Kedumim Village in Samaria
- Professor Hillel Weiss, of "Professors for a Strong Israel"
- Oury Amos Cherki, senior lecturer at Machon Meir
- Robert Aumann, Nobel Prize winner and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- "Charedi Dati Leumi". yeshiva.org.il. Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-28.
-  Archived November 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "Jta News". Nefeshbnefesh.org. Retrieved 2012-06-28.