rabbi shlomo aviner 224..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Several leading rabbinic figures have weighed in on the continuing furor
surrounding the expulsion of four IDF soldiers from the officer’s training
school last week for refusing to return to an event involving women singing
after instructed to do so by their commanding officer.
It is generally
held that according to Jewish law, men may not listen to a woman singing in
person, a situation the Talmud considers akin to seeing a woman
Benny Gantz meets with chief rabbis
Influential national-religious leader Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of
the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva and rabbi of the Beit El settlement, called on
the IDF to cancel female singing performances and also emphasized religious
soldiers should request permission from their commanders to absent themselves
from any such event. Should permission not be granted, however, Aviner said that
under such conditions it was allowable under Jewish law to remain at the
“The issue here is one of gaining pleasure [from women
singing] by coercion,” he said in an interview with Makor Rishon
example, our yeshiva [in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City] is located
on a road along that many Christians pass, singing Christian songs that we are
forbidden to listen to. But just because this is the case it doesn’t mean I
can’t go to the yeshiva. I hear their singing but I don’t listen,” Aviner
However, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of the hesder yeshiva in
Har Bracha in the Shomron, has called outright for the dismissal of both the
commanding officer of the Bahd 1 Officer’s Training School, Col.
Niv, and the expelled soldiers’ battalion commander, Lt.- Col. Uzi Kliger, who
originally instructed the cadets to return to the event.
“It's not just
about the rights of the soldiers to be faithful to their religious principles,”
said Melamed in an op-ed published in the Basheva weekly paper on Friday. “These
commanders did not only demean the religious cadets but the heritage of [the
people of] Israel, and their own ancestors, who throughout the exile observed
the Torah and mitzvot [commandments] through self-sacrifice,” he
“They do not deserve to be IDF commanders.”
Cherlow, head of a hesder yeshiva in Petah Tikva, gave a ruling similar to Rabbi
Aviner saying it is completely permissible to enter into a situation, such as
women singing, if there was no other choice.
“It is incredibly important
that the IDF is a Jewish army acting according to Jewish law as part of the
Jewish democratic state,” he stressed in a statement on the issue, saying
soldiers should also struggle for their rights not to be present at cultural
events involving women singing.
“At the same time, when we’re talking
about a military ceremony involving the whole unit, there is nothing more
correct from a halachic perspective than to be there with everyone
This should be the a priori position of the army and the military
rabbinate,” Cherlow stated.
“Singing at ceremonies is an integral part of
secular culture in the State of Israel, including women singing,” he continued,
saying that in order to maintain a united army it is necessary to understand
that that there are things that are important to different elements of society
and that “different halachic tools can be used” to accommodate this kind of