An IDF soldier prays near the Gaza border.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM & FACEBOOK)
Chief Rabbi David Lau has called on IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott to allow a weekly shiur (Torah lesson) given outside the Ir Bahadim officer training complex, south of Beersheba, to be reinstated after it was canceled several months ago.
For some six years, Rabbi Peretz Einhorn, who serves in the IDF rabbinate reserves, gave a Torah lesson outside Camp Ariel Sharon in the Negev to soldiers who wanted to listen as they waited for buses on Sunday mornings to pick them up and take them to their various bases.
Einhorn noticed that some soldiers waited around for hours for these buses and so he began giving a Torah lesson every week, which was attended by several dozen soldiers each time.
The lessons were reportedly stopped however by the head of the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva due to concerns he cited for soldier’s safety in the car park and apparently his contention that it was not fitting to give Torah lessons in a parking lot.
The shiur cancellation upset National Religious leaders and rabbis at a time when relations between the IDF and the sector are strained over concerns by rabbis that religious soldiers will not be able to serve in gender-separate units.
In light of this, Lau wrote to Eisenkott at the beginning of this week asking him to allow Einhorn’s Torah lessons to be reinstated, saying that the requests he had received to intervene compelled him to speak.
“It is the obligation of everyone to change the atmosphere of the public debate, and I am certain that if you will instruct to restore the situation to what it was previously and allow the Torah lessons it will be a fitting step to moderate the feelings of many and reduce the flames,” said Lau in reference to the conflict between the national-religious rabbis and the IDF over mixed-gender units.
Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, along with MKs Yehudah Glick (Likud), Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudit) and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi), Ya’acov Margi (Shas), Michael Malkieli (Shas), Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and Akram Hasson (Kulanu) all signed a petition calling on Eisenkott to reinstate the Torah lessons.
Some 5,000 others have also signed the petition.
The IDF has not yet commented on Lau’s letter.