Chardal (or Hardal; Hebrew: חרד"ל, acronym for חרדי לאומי, Charedi Le-umi, lit. "Nationalist Charedi", plural Chardalim) refers to the portion of the Religious Zionist Jewish community in Israel which inclines significantly toward Charedi ideology.
Literal meaning 
History and groups 
The term Chardal 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 Chardal 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 Chardal 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 Chardalim 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 Chardalic 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 Chardal 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 Chardal world. It is also sometimes used for American yeshivish Jews who moved to Israel and support the state.
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 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." 
Distinctions from other movements 
Despite their roots within Modern Orthodox Judaism and Religious Zionism, the Chardalim have become increasingly distinguished from both currents while simultaneously retaining continuity with them in theology and ideology.
The Chardalim have vacillated in their support for the state, when that support comes into conflict with their belief that halacha insists on the promotion of Jewish settlement in the West Bank and prohibits the removal of settlements. As a result, the Chardalim have increasingly become opposed to the state's actions against some settlements. While the Chardalim have moved towards Charedi positions on many issues, their uncompromising position on settlements distances them from the Charedim, who are much more willing to compromise on this issue.
Internal divisions 
Chardalim have in common the belief, most identified with Rabbi 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. Chardalim 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 Chardalim 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 "mamlachti" ("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 Chardali yeshiva Yeshivat Merkaz Harav due to these and other theological differences.
It should be noted that the term "mamlachti" 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 Chardal movement by decades, and is identified much more with the mainstream Religious Zionist movement than with the Chardal.
Past leaders (deceased)
- Rabbi Aryeh Bina (1912–1994)
- Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, former Chief Rabbi of Israel
- Rabbi Avraham Shapira, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and dean of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva
- Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
- Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
- Rabbi David Bar Hayim of Machon Shilo Institute
- Rabbi David Dudkevitch of Yitzhar
- Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
- Rabbi Elyakim Levanon
- Rabbi Dov Lior, rabbi of Kiryat Arba
- Rabbi Zalman Melamed, his son Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
- Rabbi 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.
- Rabbi Zvi Yisrael Tau, dean of Yeshivat Har Hamor
- Daniella Weiss, Former Mayor of Kedumim Village in Samaria
- Professor Hillel Weiss, of "Professors for a Strong Israel"
Many Chardalim live in West Bank settlements. The settlement town of Kiryat Arba, led by its Rabbi Dov Lior, is considered a Chardal stronghold as is the town of Beit El, led by Rabbi Melamed and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. Chardalim 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 which are seen as Chardal yeshivot. Some Jerusalem neighborhoods are also Chardal strongholds, such as Har Nof, Kiryat Moshe and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
See also 
External sources 
- Fundamentalist or Romantic Nationalist?: Israeli Modern Orthodoxy, Shlomo Fischer
- From Orthodox religious Zionist to Orthodox Hardal, Yoske Ahitov, Deot 24 (Hebrew)
- Orthodox Judaism is Ill, Bambi Sheleg (Hebrew)
- The Hardal Dilema, Nadav Shenrav (Hebrew)
- About Rabbi Tau (Hebrew)
- On "The Tanakh Debates"