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)