Would’ve Been Nice to be Wrong


Two months ago, I posted about comments made by the departing Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate which were openly hostile to observance. I said that this hostility was one contributing factor to why Haredim seem so reluctant to join the military, and closed with the following: “What happens if a soldier leaves a room in which a woman is singing, when commanded by his superiors to be in that room? It’s not at all the same as shopping at Walmart, where it’s a matter of personal preference whether or not to tolerate whatever they happen to play in the background. In the IDF, if you don’t overlook assaults on Jewish law, a soldier can be thrown in jail.”

This led to numerous critical responses, most particularly an excellent Guest Contributor post from Eli Julian. While he is certainly correct that there are many more opportunities for an observant soldier today, he went further, saying that:

It’s very unfortunate that while this is the current reality, old stigmas and prejudices based on outdated facts still persist. The myth that the IDF is the only army in the world that issues a mini-skirt or that it is impossible to maintain a religious lifestyle in the army because of all the strictures that make it too difficult to overcome the yetzer harah, are things of the past.

On September 7, ten religious officer’s candidates “left in the middle of a military activity after a female soldier began singing solo on the stage.” Originally, dozens got up to leave, but upon being angrily informed that “If you don’t come back inside immediately, you will be refusing orders. Anyone refusing an order will be dismissed from the course,” all but 10 returned to their seats. In the end, four were dismissed from the training course, because they disobeyed an order to violate Halacha, and refused to apologize. The State argues that they should have ignored Halacha.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva, called it an “unfortunate and humiliating incident” and called for the commander to be fired. Rabbi Haim Drukman, chairman of the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva Center, said in response that the dismissal was an “outrageous, delusional and immoral decision.”

Now, the Hesder Yeshivos are attempting to hammer out a compromise, in which Hilchos Kol Isha will be discarded only “at official ceremonies” but “not in shows designed for soldiers’ entertainment.” I wonder: will the cadets of Shachar be expected to accept this “compromise?”

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4 years 3 days ago

Tal Benschar: “military need” to require attendance at a concert.

The army justifies it as a morale booster and as a step towards boosting cohesion among the troops who come from varied ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds. Given the ever increasing number of religious soldiers, forcing halachically forbidden entertainment down their throats has the opposite effect and it’s demoralizing.

A question to the Dr. Bills & Chareidi Leumis of the world: Would you support forcing the Druze and Bedouin soldiers in the IDF to eat during the Ramadan, just because the majority of the soldiers eat, for the sake of cohesion? If not, why not?

Tal Benschar
4 years 4 days ago

The Chafetz Chaim authored the Machaneh Yisrael as a guide to Jewish soldiers in the Russian army. Out of sincere compassion for them, he looked for all the possible kulot to upkeep their Yahadut. Kol Isha is not listed among the kulot. Why doesn’t the IDF look for other type of entertainment that doesn’t include Kol Isha?

Did the Russian Army even have entertainment as a REQUIRED activity? For that matter, does any other army in the world do so? I do not have first hand experience (and would welcome any input), but I suspect that in, say, the American Army, attending such entertainment (e.g by the USO) is optional.

This to me is the crux of the matter — not that the Army provides entertainment as a diversion or a means to release tension, but that it requires it, under penalty of court-martial, and then includes within it types of entertainment which are religiously objectionable to a significant portion of its rank and file. IF there really is a “military need” to require attendance at a concert (something on which I am highly dubious), then you can achieve that with instrumental music and/or male singers. Make the female singer concerts optional — the religious men can play basketball at that time, a much better tension releaser IMHO.

4 years 5 days ago

Dr. Bill & Chareidi Leumi, please refresh our memories about the reasons why Israel’s military establishment didn’t renew the term in office of the previous Rav HaRashi leTzahal’s service. Were his irat shamaim and scholarship found lacking, or they found a candidate with superior qualifications? What were those qualifications? Were those reasons the same as the reasons the political establishment didn’t renew Moshe Ya’alon’s term in office as Chief of Staff for another year?

4 years 6 days ago

YM> There is no halacha against seeing pritzut in the course of employement. It is unfortunate, but not against halacha. Kol Isha – against halacha.

Charedi Leumi> One can find situations when one is exposed to kol isha in the workplace. I have never heard of anyone quitting over it.

YM> There is a difference between a personal decision and a situation where one is forced; I think if the IDF really wanted the strictly orthodox, they would avoid creating these kind of situations. The underlying issue is what kind of society does Israel want to be? Does it really want the fervently orthodox, the strictly orthodox to be able to participate? If yes, billboards with mostly naked bodies, Kol Isha, and other things that are problematic for halachic observance must be resolved in an appropriate fashion.

4 years 8 days ago

dr. bill: “in the IDF, that has its morah de’asra, …”
Chareidi Leumi: ” … the Rav HaRashi leTzahal and several other prominent rabbanim …”

Rabotai, whom are you fooling, besides yourselves? Who hand picks the Rav HaRashi leTzahal? Ehud Barak or some other rabid military technocrat? What qualifications do they require from the Rav HaRashi leTzahal? Irat Shamaim? Scholarship? No. Obedience to Barak and ‘flexibility’ in bending halacha to their needs.

Chareidi Leumi: “almost every army provides entertainment to its soldiers – it winds them down and makes them more effective.”

The Chafetz Chaim authored the Machaneh Yisrael as a guide to Jewish soldiers in the Russian army. Out of sincere compassion for them, he looked for all the possible kulot to upkeep their Yahadut. Kol Isha is not listed among the kulot. Why doesn’t the IDF look for other type of entertainment that doesn’t include Kol Isha?