The I.D.F. Rabbinate Hits a New Low

Why the Left Attacks the Religious and Settlers

Many people are amazed at the aggressive mobilization of the media, the judicial system, and the government against the religious and Haredi public and the settlers. Of course, everyone always points out that “not all of the settlers and religious are to blame”, but in reality, the accusing finger is always waved at the entire religious and settler population, either because of their ‘atrocious’ actions, or because they fail to condemn and denounce the ‘criminals’ morning, noon and night, in the harshest language possible.

How can it be that a mild disturbance in the Ephraim army base, where no one was injured, is termed ‘severe violence’ and is condemned as if it was a wild pogrom? After all, scores of more serious demonstrations occur throughout the country every year. In Paris, London, and New York, there are also demonstrations over various issues, such as price hikes, retirement age, taxes, and globalization. Sometimes the demonstrations become quite violent, including the burning stores and cars, and the injuring of police officers, but has anybody ever heard of all the top government officials in those countries unanimously condemning the protesters, as if they posed a threat to the foundations of the government and the country?! The police handle the demonstration; anyone who is caught breaking the law is simply put on trial.

Here in Israel, on the other hand, Ministers, Members of Knesset, members of the justice, and the media decided that the demonstration at the Ephraim army base is an incident which endangers the future of the State of Israel! Even the Prime Minister, who claims that settlements are dear to his heart – and only because of his numerous duties has he not found the time to visit even one settlement in the Shomron – saw fit to visit the Ephraim army base and proclaim: “We must use all of the authority that exists in the State of Israel, a State of law, a democracy built on law, and use this authority against the rioters, and we will do this with greater strength.” The real meaning of his words is that, at this point, the organizers of the demonstration are being accused of treason! Only in totalitarian regimes is a small demonstration ballooned into an incident that endangers the country and the government.

Thousands of times a day, regrettably, men make offensive comments to women, and the law authorities don’t take notice. A group of religious Jews tried to veer the media’s flames in another direction by raising the issue of the difficulties of hundreds of Jewish women who are raped and held captive in Arab villages. But the media treated it with relative indifference, the same way they relate to honor murders and other violence in these villages. On the other hand, when soldiers wish to leave a performance by a female singer, they blast the entire country about ‘the exclusion of women’; while the heads of the army declare that such a grave act will never take place in the I.D.F. And when a Haredi man calls a woman soldier a ‘slut’, he is immediately imprisoned, accused of ‘sexual harassment’, a woman judge decides not to release him until he deposits a guarantee of 30,000 shekels, and, until the conclusion of his trial, is not allowed to travel on public transportation! And in the meantime, the ruling elite cheer and applaud.

Inadvertently or a Trend of Hatred

Some people believe this is just a passing, dark cloud, resulting from a combination of unpleasant incidences, combined with the media’s penchant of arousing storms. But the fact is that these types of storms always tend to erupt against the religious, Haredim, or the settlers, and hence, they indicate a deeper feeling.

Many people believe the onslaught stems from the secular-leftists hatred towards religion and the settlers. Indeed, amongst certain parts of the left, hatred does exist. But it seems to me that most of the people who recently came out sharply against the Haredim and the settlers did not do so out of conscious hatred. They honestly maintain that the only point that interests them is law and justice. Nevertheless, they still cannot explain why such relatively insignificant incidents receive such critical coverage on their part.

Dispute over Worldview

The dispute is over two worldviews: Judaism, or post-modern assimilation. There are some Jews who find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that they belong to a small nation, with a special vision of ‘tikkun olam’ (perfecting the world) according to morals of the Torah; instead, they attempt to embrace the prevailing universal culture. At one point in time they chased after Communism; today, they pursue the post-modernism approach, according to which there are no Heavenly standards obligating one to act according to a set of values, but rather, each individual is an autonomous entity unto himself, entitled to choose his path according to his own personal discretion – provided, of course, that he does not harm anyone else. To this end, the public domain must be free of both religion and any signs of nationalism. Consequently, it is forbidden to speak about making the Galilee and Shomron Jewish; it is forbidden to call for, on behalf of traditional family values, modesty in the public areas; and it is also forbidden to denounce sexual permissiveness. The job of protecting this worldview is entrusted to the judicial system, and anyone who objects to its authority is considered a ‘heretic’ – in other words, he threatens the ‘rule of law’.

Thousands of hooligans insulting and harming women does not threaten this worldview. But soldiers exiting while a female singer performs, or a Haredi man who calls a woman standing next to him ‘slut’, or a university lecturer who condemns sexual promiscuity, definitely threatens it. Therefore, they declare war against them, and all possible tools are used to make sure that the public domain remains free of any binding, Jewish values.

Thousands of demonstrations over wages and taxes don’t threaten their worldview; they only cause inconvenience and a waste of money. But when demonstrators interfere with the destruction of an outpost, the protesters, then, are refuting their basic worldview, according to which, the right of the Jewish nation over its land is an insignificant value which is condemned to be cancelled if it interferes with the ‘vision’ of ‘universal brotherhood’.

The grand vision of the Israeli left currently drains down to one objective: the destruction of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Thus, as far as they are concerned, the disturbances in the Ephraim army base are similar to the elimination of the country and the rule of law.

Consequently, they demand that rabbis, teachers, and public figures condemn the demonstrations, for, of course, they undermine the foundations of the government and law. This, in order to make crystal clear that Jewish values must be limited solely to the private sector, while the public value system must be ruled by the views of the post-modern secularists. Via the condemnation and declaration of allegiance of various people in the religious and national camp, the leftists fortify their control of society.

Netanyahu and His Ministers

The Prime Minister and the majority of Knesset members and ministers – like the most of the public – are torn between the two positions, but in the moment of trial, they usually join the assimilationist position. From their perspective, the Gentile culture is the mistress and Judaism is the concubine; when the mistress arrives, the concubine must hide.

Dealing with the Dark Cloud

Since we are not ready to give up our values, we must absolutely deny the fundamental assumptions of the perpetrators of this muddy wave, and work positively towards a deeply rooted Jewish alternative for the nation and the State of Israel. And also, those who honestly want to criticize the disturbances that exist amongst certain circles of Haredi and religious society must first announce that the mitzvoth of the Torah precede and are superior to all human laws.

The I.D.F. Rabbinate

A difficult example of the wrong behavior was given this week by the I.D.F. Rabbinate. According to an I.D.F. spokesman, at the instruction of the Chief of Staff, the Chief Rabbi of the I.D.F. convened the leadership of the Military Rabbinate in order to discuss the serious phenomena of the ‘exclusion of women’ on religious grounds in the army. The demand calling for a meeting in and of itself is humiliating – did someone in the army harm women in the name of religion?! Is this the most important religious and moral issue that the military rabbinate needs to deal with?! Instead of putting the Chief of Staff in his place, the rabbis convened like a choir, answering ‘amen’ after the secular position that hurls false accusations at Judaism and the religious. But the aim of the Chief of Staff’s instructions is even more severe: Demanding that the rabbis publicly acknowledge the superiority of secular law over the commandments of the Torah.

Thus wrote the I.D.F. Chief Rabbi in a letter to the military rabbis: “In the I.D.F., military orders – they, and only they – dictate the nature of the army and the atmosphere that prevails in it, and determine what must be done in various circumstances…”

One participant summed up the conference to a reporter from Ynet: “Military orders are above all, and when there is a dilemma or rift between Jewish law and an officers command, we explain to the soldier that the command comes first, whether in an exercise or in combat, or if it’s a ceremony or event where women appear”…Another rabbi said: “As the soldiers occasionally consult me with questions and answers, so too, the officers are always trying to reach common ground. In any case, an officer’s command is always above my recommendations to a soldier.”

It seems we have never reached such a low point. One can say that maybe the media is lying, but in such a serious issue, a public denial is required, and when there is none – then silence is as an admission.

The Advocate General and the Rabbinate

Can anyone imagine the Chief of Staff daring to demand that members of the Military Advocate General convene to discuss the ‘shackles’ that the military lawyers place on the hands of soldiers in their war against terrorists – ‘shackles’ that cause the death of numerous soldiers, and interfere with their ability to defeat the enemy?

The Military Advocate General represents the secular judicial system which stands above the army, and therefore will not accept any dictates from the Chief of Staff. But unfortunately, the I.D.F. rabbinate apparently does not see itself as representing Jewish law, and therefore it bows down to the Chief of Staff, and humiliates the status of the Torah by submitting to the very meeting and its content.

When rabbis convene, they should discuss matters at issue, according to the opinion of the Torah with pure fear of Heaven, intended solely for the clarification of Jewish law and morality, and by no means, as per the dictates of the Chief of Staff or anyone else.

Cat Out of the Bag

The preceding words were written on Sunday night. On Monday evening it was reported in the news that members of the forum of the General Staff, headed by the Chief of Staff, conducted a discussion about the integration of men and women in the I.D.F. It was decided that at official events, such as the memorial services for fallen soldiers, the Holocaust memorial ceremony, the memorial ceremony for the murder of Yitzchak Rabin, as well as graduation ceremonies and ceremonies for the training of outstanding soldiers – all soldiers will be required to attend, even if women sing, and this “without room left to the discretion of their commanders”. The Chief of Staff further ruled that: “Female soldiers will continue to sing in all I.D.F. events” (Arutz 7). However, in other recreational and cultural events incorporating women singing, the commanders will be allowed to permit soldiers not to attend. In other words, if the commanders do not give permission – if a soldier left the event, he will be punished for violating an order.

By now it is obvious why the Chief of Staff ordered the military rabbis to convene urgently on Sunday – so that, in advance, they give their blessing to the decisions of the General Staff, and to declare to the entire world that Jewish law is subject to military orders. Now it also becomes apparent what the phenomenon of ‘exclusion of women’ in the army was – that religious soldiers have to exit with their heads bowed-down while women sing.

Jewish Law Precedes the Decisions of the Chief of Staff

In any case, despite the media assault on ‘the exclusion of women’ because of not hearing live female singers, and despite the decision of the General Staff, and although there are military rabbis who say that military orders transcend all – Jewish law remains firmly in place, and obligates as always. A soldier who is ordered to hear a female singer in a live performance in a ceremony, should leave. And now that the issue has become public, it is right to do so publicly, and with his head held high.

State of the Military Rabbinate

I hate to say, but the Military Rabbinate has never sunken to such a low point. The Chief Rabbi of the I.D.F. is personally responsible for this. We must wait and see if the Council of the Chief Rabbinate will fulfill its role, since, in principle, it is in charge of the I.D.F. Chief Rabbi. If not, the responsibility will be passed on to the heads of the yeshivas and municipal rabbis. And, if God forbid, they bow their heads in meekness, each soldier will have to stand alone for the honor of the Torah, and refuse to obey the secular order. This will be difficult, entailing imprisonment, dismissal from courses, and humiliation, but ultimately, they will restore the dignity of Israel’s heritage to its true place.

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