Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini is angered over what he sees as a double standard, the IDF permitting chareidi soldiers to have a beard while dati leumi soldiers are being told to shave. He laments the fact that today, it appears that officials in the security establishment have entered into a competition to determine who can receive the title of being more outrageous than his colleagues.
Rabbi Zini questions how persons have decided to make decisions pertaining to Yiddishkheit and the Jewish character of the nation, decisions that are to be made by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and IDF Rabbinate. He questions those who speak of “streams of Judaism”, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, asking “who authorized those ignorant in Yahadut to determine what is and what is not Judaism and if anything that characterizes Jews in particular can be called Judaism, please then include Christianity in your Jewishness for Yeshu was a Jew, even a talmid of gedolei yisrael, and Paul was also fanatical anti-Christian until he changed his spots and becomes a pious fool of the same many – perhaps to be accepted by [the IDF’s] Human Resources Branch”.
He adds that “Those seeking a more modern example can join the apostate Archbishop Lustiger, whose family lived in Meah Shearim! If you wish, take the three drafters of the Koran, who were probably converted Jews!”
Rabbi Zini blasts IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eizenkott who recently came under fire for making flippant statements regarding Chazal, explaining he is fortunate his roots trace back to Torah observant families in Morocco, and he was thereby spared from what occurred in Europe since the 19th century.
Rabbi Zini compared the directive from the head of the IDF Manpower Branch to shave with that instructions from the Nazis YS”VZ and for him, as a son of a survivor of Auschwitz, he is painfully aware of the of the meaning of the “cruel stupid order”, calling on them to awaken to the reality they have dug themselves under the feet of every nation, a bottomless pit.
Rabbi Zini questions how do they expect Torah-observant Jews to serve while “Bowing down to this degrading and infuriating regulation”. He quickly adds that he is not addressing halachic aspects than demand ‘יהרג ואל יעבור’, “for this is a foreign concept to the IDF” but the simple fact the IDF is supposed to be the army of the entire nation, and it is not supposed to compel one to act contrary to one’s beliefs and against halacha. “Do they want us to join the anti-Zionist branch of Judaism” he questions, adding “Perhaps they don’t want us to serve in this essential and precious national service for now it harms one’s religious beliefs”.
Rabbi Zini angrily questions how chareidim are permitted to keep a beard and the dati leumi soldiers, the backbone of the military, those who serve in the most dangerous positions, are being targeted with this “insulting” order.
Rabbi Zini concludes with a suggestion, that this command should lead to recommending to shave off the beard of the founder of the nation, Dr. Theodore Herzl for he was not religious and even if he would honor the Torah and the rabbis, many military commanders would feel his beard was just a ruse to facilitate his life.
Rabbi Dr. Zini is Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Ohr V’Yeshua in Haifa and was a former Rabbi of the Technion University in Haifa.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)