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Army Seder Leads to a Storm

Military correspondent Carmela Menashe gave the following report, aired on Israel Radio Reshet Bet during the program hosted on Tuesday morning by Yaron Dekel.

According to the report, female soldiers taking part in the main Yomtov seder in the ‘Kirya’ (Defense Ministry) were prohibited from reading aloud from the haggada by a ‘chareidi rabbi’ leading the seder. IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Avichai Ronsky has appointed an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel to head the investigation into the allegations.

According to Menashe, the seder in question was the main one offered in the Defense Ministry, attended by dozens of soldiers and officers of various ranks. She explained participants were military personnel unable to go home for the Yomtov, therefore compelled to take part in this seder.

When a number of female soldiers wished to recite portions of the haggada, they were told by the rav running the seder “you may recite the haggada in your hearts, but not in an audible voice”.

The rabbi who headed the seder was a civilian, described as one wearing ‘chareidi apparel’.

Brigadier-General (reserves) Yehudit Ben-Natan, of the former Women’s Corps, expressed outrage over the incident, stating in all honesty, the fault lies with the many officers who participated, of the rank of major and lt.-colonel, who should have intervened on behalf of the soldiers since the military decides on the actual ‘regulations of the seder’, not a civilian rabbi, who apparently volunteered his services.

DEKEL: Perhaps his intentions were good.

BEN-NATAN: Perhaps, but perhaps he wished to bring his hashkafa to a wider audience, not just in his home.

In an official response released by the IDF Spokesman, the military states the seder was to have been headed by a military and civilian rav. Prior to beginning, the civilian rav was informed that females will be actively participating. It appears the incident occurred when the military rav stepped out for a brief period. Rav Ronsky has ordered an investigation. It should also be pointed out that the military rabbinate supports and encourages participation from male and female soldiers to take part in seder and haggada”.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

21 Responses

  1. I don’t see the issue here. Why should a woman not be allowed to read the Haggadah? As long as everyone reads along quietly themselves – what we always do in any case – who cares?

  2. Was this an issue of just following along while reading aloud but quietly or was it an issue of the women wanting to take the lead in parts, while having everyone else, follow them?

  3. to 5 and 2- why read “quietly”? and why can’t a woman not lead the reading of the seder….this truly comes under the heading of “chossid shotteh”.

  4. Since we had many men guests, we had only the men do the reading. Of course we have a frum home and realize the importance of t’znius.

  5. I don’t know how others do things, but at my Seder women read aloud. What’s the issue? How can I reasonably exclude my wife, without whom Pesach in my house would be a sorry affair indeed, but with her efforts it’s glorious, from participating? Mind you she’s a well educated Jew and a very smart person to boot. Also, how can I exclude my daughter who is taught divre Torah to say at the Pesach table from doing so without undermining her education?

  6. #6 Can you show me one Stuchiner family where the women ‘lead’ the Seder?

    Are you saying that they must give up their minhagim (and as I do not know enough about halacha I do not know that the Halacha says women leading is good, and I word that that way because I remember to the best of my ability from 30 years ago being taught in yeshivah that hunting for sport, was not forbidden by halacha but was not something a proper Jew did, so something can be allowed and still not so proper which may be the case here as far as I know) for some feminist ideal?

    “Chossid shotteh” indeed.

  7. cantoresq, I love what you said. I hope you show your comment to your wife — she should know how much you value and respect her. You sound like a wonderful husband and father.

  8. #7 Children learning is not the same and women leading things.

    But You can do it that way in your house as long as it is not against halacha.

    But that does not mean that others do it that way or that they should be forced to.

  9. The M.B. paskens a reading voice is not Kol Isha,thats singing.REBONO SHEL OLOM WELL MEANING FRUME KANOIM. AND ALSO FRUM OBER NISHT KAIN SECHEL.

  10. Who said it was an issue of Kol Isha?

    Why don’t women read the announcenments (when the next davening is, and what time shkia is, for example) in shule?
    That is not Kol Isha, either.

  11. had the rabbi asked them to say along, they would of screamed that he picking on them!
    you just cant ever make woman happy!

  12. #8 good point
    your family is different then total strangers singing in unison.
    however if it was a group of woman, then the kol isn’t nikkar & may be permissible- ask your local rav.
    but i imagine this wasnt a kol isha issue- but something else, that we should give the benefit of the doubt to the rav!

  13. to 9- “stuchiner”, “man dekar shemoi?” what does stuchin have to do with this matter?
    What people were incensed is that the person who was leading the seder (I doubt he was a rabbi) PROHIBITED the female soldiers from READING from the haggadah. There is absolutely no issur in this (others have already commented that there is no question of kol isha)and all this simpleton achieved is to put the back up of many Jews and present the Torah not in “darkei noam”.
    we should strive to do everything to welcome other jews and present our holy Torah in darkei noam.

  14. #17 What does kol Isha have to do with it?

    I already explained what Stuchin has to do with it. because they don’t have owmen leading the Seder and yet you feel yourself so righteous in sitting in judgement of them for not doing things your way even though most of them could probably run circles around you in terms of Torah knowledge.

    So you want women teaching in boys yeshivahs and giving the daily announcements in shule because it’s the same thing there is no question of Kol Isha there either.

  15. I believe there is a gemorah (I forgot where, but I think it’s in Sotah somewhere) that says thet women should not be judges because it is improper for a woman to be the center of public attention. So if this rabbi didn’t let the women lead parts of the seder he may have had a cheshbon, but if he didn’t let them read aloud at all (as indicated by the article) I can’t fathom where he got this from, and the minhag is clearly not like him.

    #8 – The first line of your comment (“What’s the issue?”) was a good point – what halachic basis was this decision made on? But after that, you move on to to the irrelevant. The amount of work that your wife puts into pesach and what your daughter was taught in school have absolutely no bearings on a halachic decision.

    #16 – Do you have a source for that?

  16. I would venture to say that the “reciting” mentioned here was probably the Vehi Sheamda and the like, which they neglected to say, for the desired effect.

  17. “Since we had many men guests, we had only the men do the reading. Of course we have a frum home and realize the importance of t’znius.”

    So what does that mean, Lazerc, that families that have women read as well (like ours) are not frum and do not realize the importance of tzniut??

    And #14, Sabra, I don’t know if you are married or not – but if you are, why don’t you go show that comment to your wife? I bet she would just love to see something so well written by you.

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