Despite repeated efforts by leading dati leumi rabbonim, who met with and tried to persuade IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eizenkott, the latter continues with his anti-religious agenda, making unprecedented change in the military, in no small part, at the expense of the religious soldiers. During his tenure, the IDF prohibited beards, limited the authority of the IDF Rabbinate, turned over many duties of the Rabbinate to the left-wing secular IDF Education Corps and has simply made life for religious soldiers difficult. All of this however is dwarfed by Eizenkott’s dedication and tenacious efforts to integrating women combatants into male units.
The major difficulty between Eizenkott and the rabbonim surrounds his decision to place women and men combatants in mixed units, a reality that has compelled many prominent dati leumi poskim to announce one may not serve in or command such a unit, even at the expense of one’s career. HaRav Shlomo HaKohen Aviner has announced if one cannot enter a separate gender unit, one should not enter the military, citing there is no heter to serve in a mixed unit, adding it is a מצוות צבא הבאה בעבירה. Rav Aviner has instructed officers who have to command such units to leave the military and give up their careers, citing there is no heter.
Tzefas Chief Sephardi Rabbi, HaRav Shmuel Eliyahu echoes the words of Rav Aviner, as does Rosh Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, HaRav Yaakov Shapira. Rav Eliyahu has sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling upon him to get rid of Eizenkott.
Interestingly, albeit not surprisingly, some of the rabbonim affiliated with Beit Hillel, representing the more liberal dati leumi tzibur, opine if a dati leumi person spends his life in a mixed environment, not making an effort to separate from women, he cannot ask the IDF to do what he himself does not do in civilian life.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)