Chabad IDF Soldier Facing Charges for Refusing to Remove his Beard

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idffAs Gedolei Torah Shlita and Admorim Shlita meet in an effort formulate a united policy concerning how the chareidi tzibur addresses the IDF draft, another case against a chareidi soldier is in the news. This time, a Chabad soldier is facing charges for refusing to remove his beard. When asked to comment, the IDF Spokesman’s Office stated “The commander involved are reviewing the situation”.

It is becoming increasingly clear to many that the ‘sharing the burden’ effort is nothing more than a sham, an effort to compel bnei Torah to serve in the IDF in the hope of distancing them from their chareidi lifestyle.

In this latest case, the soldier is serving as a student in the air force in the Tel Nof Base. The soldier explains that his commander, of the rank of lt.-colonel, decided that all of his subordinates must be clean shaven. The soldier, Yitzchak explained that he does not shave for religious reasons. His commander was unimpressed and explained that failure to comply would result in charges of insubordination against him.

His parents explained that while some chareidim are okay with shaving, it is known that Chabad is stringent regarding shaving or trimming one’s beard.

The lt.-colonel is not interested in the young soldier’s religious beliefs and filed charges against him. Yitzchak phone the IDF Chief Rabbinate hotline to report what was happening to him. He was told that an officer of the rank of lt.-colonel or higher has the right to order him to shave but he is not compelled to comply, for the law permits him to maintain his beard in line with his chareidi lifestyle.

The IDF Spokesman adds “The right to have a beard in line with one’s religious beliefs is contingent on one’s commander. When one transfers from one unit to another one has to often request permission anew.

Yitzchak is expected to present his case before officers in the coming days.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


17 COMMENTS

  1. From their perspective, being religious is contingent on one’s commander’s approval, and the commanders of the medinah have ordered the hareidim to get into line and be good zionists (a little bit Jewish okay, but drop all that religious stuff since its so old fashioned, and zionism is about being a new modern up to date secularist).

  2. Hi
    I am a chareid zionist and muust categorically tell you that there is no hidden agenda by the Army. The Army can accomodate all levels of frumkeit. Yes of course there are individuals here and there that may have an agenda but that is simply them as individuals. I have personally seen so many soldiers with long peiot – Baruch Hashem.
    Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael is miraculous and every country needs and army as well as Torah scholars. There is no reason unless you are mamash moser nefesh learning Torah full time not to do National Service

  3. Why isn’t there a clear policy in place? Why is up to individual commanding officers? Surely that would remove any bias one way or the other.

  4. The PM keep on announcing that Israel is a Jewish State very strange that the Army which belongs to the so called Jewish State Government would force a soldier against religion.

  5. Efraim312: If the entire army (meaning the IDF, not just some segregate “frum” units) can accomodate hareidim, then there should be a news item about the commander of the unit in the article being court martialed and losing his command. In the American army, which had a problem with allowing African Americans to serve (they were called Negroes or Colored back them), officers who displayed prejudice were shown the door – when they were finally serious about integration. Given that there are frequent complaints about anti-religious acts in the IDF, and infrequent (non-existent) reports of the anti-religious officers being court-martialed, we can assume that the army’s willingness to accomodate hareidim, even as mere canon fodder, is limited.

  6. Efraim312, you are right there is no hidden agenda , its right in the open. The army wants to be not only the higher authority in the soldiers life , but the only authority. Most commanders don’t care about Torah, yet under pressure will acquiesce to the ‘rights’ of the soldiers to follow Torah.
    Yet the concept that bothers the army most is that we only take orders from our Rabbonim, not them or the medina.
    If I wanted to run an army I would also like to be the only authority. Yet the reality is that Hashem is the ultimate authority. When Moshiach arrives the commanders will be the Rabbonim. SheNizke beemhayra.

  7. Interesting.
    I know that the one soldier I know actually grew a beard for the army- if you have an “official beard” then you don’t have army-mandated shaving time and you have the extra time for davening.

  8. I served 3 years in the IDF with a beard. And no one ever said boo to me. And I had/have plenty of frum friends with beards,peyos, Yalmukas, Tittzis etc in many different units in the army and they never had any issues at all.

    Im Sorry but we are missing a key point in this story… You do need to request a “Ashur Zakun” But as long as you are always frum there should be no issue getting it.(If they see you never Daven or dont keep Shabbas they will give you a hard time getting it)(Or if you shave when you get off base but then dont want to shave on base)

    Story seems off.

  9. This is such a joke. Having served in this ” charedi hating” army alongside chareidim i can personally tell you that this is an isolated incident. Every soldier religious or otherwise is entitled to an “ishur zakan”. Thimgs like this happen in almost every military especially while transfering units. Simmer down people, the army does not steal tefilin and shave beards. Ive been there.

  10. Thank you FRUM – RELIGIOUS Soldiers for your input. I would take your word for rules & regulations before the media-reading, anti-MEDINAH crowd.

    Truth hurts at times especially when it doesn’t confer with a person’s agenda!!

  11. Bilbo and Tzvi97: Then the follow up story will be about a senior commander having been removed from his position, and the officer be court-martialed. That’s what happens in, as an example, in the American military to an officer who displays prejudice against any group (Blacks, for example).

    But one might ask how it is that someone needs “permission” to observe their religion, unless the army as a rule disapproves of that religion. Perhaps only certain units tolerate frum Jews (note the article was about the Air Force, not one of the segregated hareidi units), just as the American army a hundred years ago tolerated Blacks in special “colored regiments.”

    I hope YWN will report on the officer’s court-martial. I suspect the more likely report will be about the soldier leaving the unit, and perhaps the army.

  12. I find it hard to believe this wont be worked out. My son joined the army as chardei with a full beard and tzizts. He was in the combat unit and no issues at all with his appearance. He has just finished his 2.5 years and was very happy he served. He got a kick at the fact that one of officers of the area had long peyos etc. The army many times ask him to help with any issues that perhaps they were not clear in….areas of halacha etc. He had time to daven and learn as well.

  13. See sefer Hadras Ponim Zokon (over 1,000 pages) and, in English, “The Beard in Jewish Law – Kabbalistic Stringency or Halachic Imperative?” (published by KTAV)

  14. Its amazing to me that all you “bright” people with your opinions fail to even actually read what was written….this had nothing to do with religion this had to do with one commander who decided his unit should be clean shaven and that everyone should comply….yes it will be settled but bobody will be cour martialed nor should they.