Chief Rabbi David Lau and Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef recently reaffirmed the Halachic prohibition against women serving in the IDF. The psak has been in place since the establishment of the country. They explained that they too support the psak as chief rabbis over the decades. Their announcement elicited the ire of Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who demands throwing them out of office for their position. Lapid launched a scathing assault against Rishon L’Tzion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Lau on his Facebook page.
This has led MK Elazar Stern to seek a measure of clarity regarding the service of shomer Shabbat females in the IDF. He stated “A week ago the Chief Rabbis announced that a female serving in the IDF results in an aveira similar to Chilul Shabbos. This is tantamount to issuing a call to women, at least those who view themselves as religious, not to serve in the IDF. The Defense Ministry is now lengthening the service of women as part of the nation’s required security. I served in the IDF for a few years and I state the military cannot function without women unless we lengthen the service of males to 4.5 years. The price that we will pay by the call of the Chief Rabbinate Council that females do not enlist is not that of our daughters, but the daughters of these very same rabbis who don’t serve.”
“In Bnei Brak sits a profound talmid chacham, Rabbi Shteinman, who used to say the same thing but the government does not fund him and he does not have a staff of assistants or a vehicle and he does not enjoy the fruits of the government. I think the chief rabbis whom were elected haven’t been in tune with the needs of the state for some time. No one compelled them to be appointed to the position, quite the contrary, they fought to be appointed. A Chief Rabbi of Israel must be selected not just for his ability to manage a chupah or give divrei Torah, but he must also understand the meaning of a Jewish demographic country. One who says women are prohibited from serving in the IDF, this is a Halacha that can be put before Rabbi Goren or Rabbi Shar Yashuv Cohen, whose daughters served in the IDF” Stern added.
Stern feels the Chief Rabbinate has made itself “irrelevant” because the chareidim do not adhere to its rulings and with the passing of time, the tzibur that used to abide by its rulings no longer does as well. “I call on the chief rabbis to defend the females entering the IDF or announce that you are not suited for the position and go to spread Torah to those who elected you. In addition, tell them that we did not think we are a part of the state but we just wanted to benefit from the perks of the job. For if not, the result will be that the Chief Rabbinate and chas v’sholom Yiddishkheit will become irrelevant to all of the citizens of the state barring a small few.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)