Halacha Comes First – Soldiers Must Leave Kol Isha Event


Tensions between rabbonim and the IDF are mounting as the military this week announced its policy decision regarding the kol isha controversy. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has accepted the position of Chief of Personnel Branch Major-General Orna Barvibai, who is an outspoken advocate of women’s rights, insisting females will sing at IDF ceremonies as has been the case in the past. The IDF commander stated that is now official policy, while leaving room for a soldier’s commander to use his discretion towards accommodating frum soldiers wishing to absent themselves from a ceremony when women sing.

This however only applies at ceremonies that are not mandatory, meaning a soldier must remain in attendance during a kol isha performance if it is a mandatory event. As a result, soldiers are in an untenable situation, having to decide between Halacha or facing charges of insubordination.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, rosh yeshiva of the former Har Bracha Hesder Yeshiva, which was ousted from the hesder system by Defense Minister Barak, also for placing Halacha ahead of military regulations, decries the situation. Rav Melamed released a statement that if a soldier receives a direct order to remain in such a ceremony, he must defy the order and leave in compliance with Halacha.

In his weekly column in the B’Sheva newspaper affiliated with the dati leumi community, Rabbi Melamed makes his position very clear, stating the Halacha is not negotiable and one must adhere to Halacha at any cost. He points out that this is what must be done, despite the widespread campaign against Orthodox Jewry based on claims the latter fails to honor its women.

Melamed also had harsh words for IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz, who this week stated unequivocally that IDF regulations supersede Halacha. Rabbi Melamed states that the military rabbinate has reached an all time low under the leadership of Rabbi Peretz.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. If you adopt a rule that army orders take precedence over halacha (and remember, halacha allows anything connected with preservation of life, and arguably anything connected with defense against the Arabs), there is no limit. It would mean that any Jew who joins the army is agreeing to give up on Yiddishkeit – which is what the people who run the army are so anxious to get frum Jews in the army — they are hoping that after several years of non-observance they will give up on Yiddishkeit and join mainstream Israeli society.

  2. The IDF, (and government), since its foundation, has been attempting to uproot anything religious about Israel. What is this with forcing someone to listen to music if he doesn’t want to? The military is for defense, not entertainment! You can give a soldier a gun, put him through the hardest training all that stuff, but don’t go and say that attending events where there’s entertainment is necessary and mandatory for the army. Soldiers enlist for training for war, and forcing them to listen to singing that’s against their beliefs is completely unjustified.
    And if such a thing happened in the US military, there would be an outcry against such ‘religious discrimination’. But in Israel, it’s totally “OK”, there are no limits to the measures the government will take against the religious.

  3. This statement was not made by Rav Peretz. It is the interpretation of one of the rabbanim at a meeting of military rabbanim. There are several reasons to be meikal :

    1. An enjoyment one is compelled to receive is not called an enjoyment (Rva Shlomo Aviner and see Baba Batra 57b.

    2. The songs at ceromonies are not meant for enjoyment (Sedeh Chemed Klalaim Maarechet HaKuf 42 in the name of Divrei Chefetz and Seridei Esh 2:14).

    3. If kol isha is, as many sheetot hold, derabbana it might be muttar mishum aiva (Responsa Chatam Sofer Vol 2 Yoreh Deah 131 and Mishna Berura 330,8).

    4. If several are singing together there is a heter based on trei kalei lo mishtamei (Chatan Sofer Orech Chaim Shaar HaTaharot Yadayim 14)

    5. If the soldier is already there walking out constitues embarassing the singer in public (Rav Yosef Carmel).

    Obviously, there can be disagreements among poskim as to whether or not to use the above heterim but let’s stop pasulling those with whom we disagree.

  4. #4
    With all due respect, You are missing the point!

    1. One is not allowed to put himself in a situation where he will be doing something wrong.

    2. And clearly the army is doing it to minimize their Yiddishkeit which could be equivalent to זמן שמד where one is not allowed to even change the way his מנהג is to tie his shoe

    3. Ever heard of נבל ברשות התורה ? looking for התרים is not the way to go about things!

    All The Best

  5. You know, I have to agree with Comment #4. The fact is that there are many heterim on this issue which have been used by many Rabbonim and Bnei torah and surely Baal HaBatim over the decades and generations. There are more then even Comment #4 listed.

    Nowadays, the “left” have been all about political correctness and in Israel, the Chareidim have created an image of themselves as being chauvinistic narrow minded intolerant people. The Dati L’Umi community has been able to avoid these caricature like images. It now seems that the left has found a weapon to use against the Dati L’Umi community. So now, the left and the Dati L’Umi community is making ahuge issue over mamash a nothing issue.

    The question is why? Why are both sides allowing this to become the sword to die on? It is such a sad joke. More sinas chinam when we finish a Taanis commemorating the beginning of our destruction, because of sinas chinam. Mechiras Yosef, of course over righteous issues to the laying of siege to Yerushalayim. Iran is at a hairs breath from having nuclear bombs that they promise they will use on Israel, almost all of the European Nations hate the Jews and the Israeli’s, The U.N. can’t wait to attack or hard Israel in any way, and we sit and bicker angrily over mamash nothing.

    As my posek would say, if you must be there, pick any one of these; look down, close your eyes, wear ear plugs, sing quietly to yourself or use any of the hetterim of Comment #4, but do NOT cause aivah or sinas chinam by making a scene!

  6. Avi K: Wow such lomdus and bekiyus. If I follow your line of reasoning correctly then the IDF need not serve kosher food —
    1. If a soldier is forced to eat the mess-hall food, which he is since he has no other choice, there is no enjoyment.
    2. A soldier eats not for enjoyment but for the sake of his country.
    3. Many issurim are only of Rabbinic nature and therefore would be permitted m’shum aiva (although I never knew that heter applied to aiva from Jews).
    4. To walk out of the mess-hall, if the food and cook are already there, would constitute an act of embarrassing someone (and bizui ochel, which you do not mention).

    As an aside. If two voices cannot be discerned one from the other why may one hear Megillah read by two people? . . . The reason is that when the voice or what is being song is dear, one voice can be heard among many! The yetzer ha’ra can make the song – even one being forced upon us – as being dear (and entertaining) and therefore able to be heard. Your honer, the defense (of the Torah) rests its case. The verdict: The government of Israel is guilty of trying to uproot Torah and Mitzvos much as their brethren (the misYavnim) tried in the days of the Greeks. Didn’t work then. Can’t work now. (“Take ’em away.”)

  7. #2- “The songs at ceromonies are not meant for enjoyment ”
    Correct. They are there to force you to demonstrate your loyalty to the secularism and to force you to publicly state your non-adherance to Torah. It therefore changes it from a question de jure “nudity” or “sexual mixing” – to one of Avodah Zarah.

    SO basically, IDF took a lack of sensitivity and ignorance, and turned into something that one is required to be mesiras nefesh over (and these guys are running a nation state?).

  8. And the Zionists continue in their quest to be an am chofshi, free of the Torah, and those who are otherwise religious who mistakenly subscribe to this fallacy of Zionism are forced to continue to use all sorts of dochek and BiDiEved non-heterim to try to justify their continued erroneous servitude to this Egel haZahav.

    May Moshiach redeem us all BB”A.

  9. Oy lanu, that we have sunk to such lows. Back in the day only tzadikim would be in the army and the goal was to make people bigger tzadikim. Now they want to make the soldiers bigger R’SHOYIM!

  10. Yes, Avi K. you are 100% right. But you left out the biggest leniency of all. We can be lenient and not join the army to begin with thereby not putting our ruchnious in the hands of others who would love to destroy it.

  11. There are all kinds of heterim, but that’s not the point. The point is that the army is asserting that its orders come before Hashem’s orders, and that makes it שעת השמד. And when so-called “rabbonim” like Peretz and Aviner affirm that the army’s orders come before halacha, and no matter what a soldier is ordered he must obey, then the gangrene has invaded the body and must be fought before the whole body dies.

  12. #5.
    I think you missed #4’s point.
    Reasons #1-4 are saying that there is no issur, so your #1 is out. As for #2, who says they’re doing it to “minimize their yiddishkeit”? And your #3 doesn’t make any sense altogether.
    Kol Tuv.

  13. #3, there is a story that Rav Chaim Brisker was once asked a chicken question (BTW, when receiving such questions he always looked at the questioner’s shoes). He told the questioner to come back later. He then went into his study and came out sometime later perspiring. “Baruch Hashem, I found a heter”. Be machmir on yourself (if you are on the proper level), not on others. כח דהיתרא עדיף

  14. Like Reb Chaim Brisker said over and over….The goal of the zionistic enterprise has nothing to do with a jewish homeland but rather to uproot Torah. The induction of Chareidim into the army was a stepping stone toward that goal. Fortunately, they (the army) blew it and pushed too far and now the Chareidim can successfully say, “we tried and you did not keep your side of the deal”. It’s a win win situation !!

  15. 1. Kisvu lachem al keren ha’shor, “ein lachem cheilek beilokei Yisroel.” If their point is, as it has been since the founding of the state (and even before) to methodically uproot Torah u’Mitzvos from the am ha’nivchar, then this constitutes a ge’zeiras shmad when the din is yeihareig v’al ya’avor even if they simply want you to change the color of your shoelaces.
    2. The yechidim who found heteirim for themselves or for others were doing so for yechidim, NOT for people whose democratic (and Jewish) state is doing their utmost to force them to transgress and expose themselves to erva.
    3. Regardless if the issur of kol ishah is Biblical or Rabbinical, it has already been paskened in Shulchan Aruch. There may very well be heteirim, but this is as much about freedoms as it is about religion (i.e. ul’taameich . . .).
    4. And let’s be honest with ourselves . . . None of these events are essential to national safety.
    5. And while we are being honest, this has nothing to do with fairness to, or equality for, women. How does letting them sing or letting the soldiers leave effect them “afilu a ki hu zeh?”

  16. As a current soldier of tzahal, I think I am more qualified to speak on this issue than most. I agree that people are making a huge issue of nothing. This isn’t 30 years ago when people were anti frum. Nowadays a huge porportion of kravi soldiers are frum. Most of the others believe in hashem and many keep something at least. Everyone is extremely respectful of anything having to do religion. Yesterday on the fast anyone who wanted to fast was given the day off in their rooms. There were shiurim the entire day in the shul. Regardless of the circumstances, they will always make sure you have time to daven. People are just making a big deal over a small issue.

  17. #5, see what I wrote to #3.

    #6, they allow people to express their feelings.

    #8 and #10, all the heterim are taken together. By your line of reasoning it is assur to go to work during the summer because of what one sees on the way. Regarding several people singing ast once, obviously the dati soldiers do not want to hear whereas they obviously do want to hear the megilla.

    #9 and #11, nonsense. They are meant to show respect for the Army and those who serve in general and who fell in particular. Thus, it is like an andarta. No more avoda zara than the Lincoln Memorial.

    #12, it is hanaato as the singers feel personally offended and the Chief of Staff feels pressured. You are mevazeh talmidei chachamim, which makes you an apiorus

    #13, what about your ruchniyut regarding defending Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael? On hte other hand, maybe the Army would be better off without you as you cannot accept an official authority.

  18. Hillmouse.

    The so-called rabbonim have never asserted that army orders precede halacha. Read #4.
    However in a society where we compelled to erase the secretary of state Clinton from a photo in the name of frimkeit, one can comprehend why we are outraged that the IDF isn’t being more machmir.

  19. The only one who has any credibility to speak about this is #18. He is in tzahal and knows the situation as it is. To say that the reason Israel wants frum people to be in the army is to make them become chilonim is outrageous.

    I think I have some credibility in this area as well. My brother is a Rav in E”Y and his milu’im service is to give shiurim at air force bases and sometimes help kasher kitchens b4 Pesach.

    When he made aliyah 30 years ago and was in basic training, there was an army regulation that in the field there would only be mess tents for fleishig use. If you wanted to eat milchig, it had to be done outside. There was a career colonel eating a leben in the mess tent, and my brother politely reminded him about the regulation. The colonel basically told my brother to take a hike. My brother had this CAREER officer brought up on charges of violating army regulations. The three panel judges were officers who were chilonim but nonetheless had this colonel booted out of the army! When my brother spoke to the the officers privately about it (as he felt bad about having a man’s career ended) he was told he absolutely did the right thing. One, because if officers do not follow regulations then how can private soldiers be expected to? Two, because if the religious soldiers do not speak up for what they believe in, then who will?

    You people can say all the loshon horah you want, but I will simply say Umi k’amcha Yisrael!

  20. To #4 and others who are meikel:
    Heterim in general are for specific times and places (usually in galus). It is time to get back to the original halacha, which doesn’t have loopholes and exceptions and excuses. Second, these ceremonies are part of a frontal war on Yiddishkeit and that is close enough to a sha’as shmad to justify strong action. Third, it is not enough to allow frum soldiers to leave. This causes them to be mafkir everyone else. Instead, kol isha has to be prohibited totally as halacha says.