Female soldier, Lotem Stapleton, a physical education officer, demonstrates a move during a training session in Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense technique, at a military base in the Golan Heights March 1, 2017..
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)
Prominent National Religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner issued a ruling on Tuesday telling Orthodox men not to enlist in the IDF until concerns relating to men and women serving together are resolved.
Aviner, who is part of the National Religious sector’s conservative wing, has long railed against situations in which Orthodox male soldiers serve in close proximity to female soldiers and officers, as have other senior members of the National Religious leadership.
The issue has been one of the top concerns of the sector’s rabbis in recent months and years, especially with the new IDF protocol on integrating women into all areas of the army, which generated severe opposition from these leaders.
Aviner wrote his ruling in his regular questions-and-answers column on the Kipa National Religious news site on Tuesday, where he said that enlisting to the IDF under the current circumstances would be a sin.
The rabbi wrote that many yeshiva students end up transgressing religious laws prohibiting men from touching women other than their wives and said the situation was “awful.”
Aviner said that this being the case, yeshiva students should request to serve in combat units since most such units use only male soldiers, but said that men who are unsuited for roles in combat units should not enlist.
“This being the case, in the meantime, don’t go to the army, unfortunately,” wrote the rabbi. “Either go to a [gender] separate unit or don’t enlist in the meantime. You cannot perform the mitzva of army [service] through a transgression.
“We love the IDF deeply, and for sure we will enlist when the problem is fixed,” he wrote.
By telling yeshiva students to wait before enlisting, Aviner is likely suggesting that they apply for IDF service annual deferrals, which some National Religious students do anyway to remain in yeshiva study for a longer period of time before enlisting.
The liberally inclined Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah organization was highly critical of Aviner’s ruling, saying that the dispute with the IDF over mixed-gender service should be resolved through dialogue and not through “slander, which dismantles the delicate fabric of the people’s army.”
Said NTA: “The IDF is holy to all of us through an understanding that it is upon us to take part in the commandment of protecting the nation and the state, and not through a mistaken concept that the entire army should be run according to the strictures of Rabbi Aviner’s demands.”