Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Meir Ben-Shabbat

Gershon Burstyn

Israel’s new national security advisor

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

 Mishpacha image

Ben-Shabbat has a specially installed “Shabbos phone” on the grounds of his yishuv. When he receives a message via beeper, he retreats to a phone whose encryption technology allows for clandestine conversations

M eir Ben-Shabbat, 52, is Israel’s new national security advisor, filling a post that has been officially vacant since 2015, when Yoram Cohen left to lead the Mossad. Ben-Shabbat will sit in the corner office in what’s known as the “aquarium,” the inner sanctum of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s headquarters, where state secrets are guarded and military operations launched.


In photos, Ben-Shabbat resembles more a reserved school teacher than a master tactician and intelligence wizard — but that’s exactly how he’s described. In the months leading up to the 2014 Gaza War, Ben-Shabbat, who then led the Shin Bet’s Southern Command, warned the cabinet that Hamas was using innocent-looking rice bags to smuggle weapons and cement into the seaside enclave. “It wasn’t easy to go against the whole intelligence system, but he deciphered the human codes, spoke with his sources, and realized that there was a major mistake here,” a source in the Southern Command told Mishpacha. When war broke out, his hunch that the terror group was building tunnels to ensnare Israeli soldiers saved hundreds of lives.

Just Call Him “M”

Ben-Shabbat hails from a Moroccan-Israeli family, the 12th of 14 children. He attended a dati leumi yeshivah and later earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bar-Ilan University. Ben-Shabbat — who was formerly known as “M” in the masked intelligence briefings of the Shin Bet — is married with four kids and lives on a religious settlement in the “central region” (per the Shin Bet parlance) where he is reportedly the baal korei and delivers a weekly shiur on Shabbos.

Shabbos Phone

Mishpacha’s Eliezer Shulman reports that Ben-Shabbat has a specially installed “Shabbos phone” on the grounds of his yishuv. When he receives a message via beeper, he retreats to a phone whose encryption technology allows for clandestine conversations.

All in a Day’s Work

Ben-Shabbat, who has been an employee of the Shin Bet since 1989, will now be privy to all the inner workings of the Israeli security establishment. On the top of his list are three pressing intelligence challenges: One, positioning Israel and Western forces as a bulwark against Iranian advances in Syria. Two, countering Hamas aggression in Gaza and preparing for the next war. Three, confronting a strengthening ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, where the terror group has harassed the Egyptian army and hopes to one day launch direct assaults on Israel. In other words, all in a day’s work for Israel’s national security advisor. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 674)

Related Stories

Steve Bannon’s New Bully Pulpit

Jacob Kornbluh

Will ousted aide remain Trump’s friend, or morph into his foe?

The Rebbe’s L’Chaim

Yeruchem Yitzchak Landesman

A tavern. A cellar. A body. Zechariah just wanted to help his widowed mother. How did he end up with...

Lifelines: Alternate Trajectories

C. Saphir

When Ben was about to begin his first job with a Manhattan law firm, he told me he might not wear hi...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity