Eliyahu: 'Opt for prison over hearing girls sing'

Former chief rabbi says observant soldiers should adhere to Talmud, not their commanders.

rabbi mordechai eliyahu (photo credit: Courtesy)
rabbi mordechai eliyahu
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has called on religious IDF soldiers to choose imprisonment over hearing a woman singing during military events and ceremonies, an Israeli paper revealed on Tuesday. The influential national-religious rabbi said that he was asked by soldiers what they should do when their commanders order them to stay at an event in which a woman was singing. Orthodox Jewish law prohibits men from hearing a woman sing on modesty grounds. "I told them - what should you do? The Talmud tells you… It is better you go to jail, disregard your commander and don't hear the voice of a woman singing," Eliyahu said in a recorded sermon broadcast Monday night and carried by the newspaper Ma'ariv. The IDF's Chief of Staff's Office recently issued a prohibition on observant soldiers walking out of military assemblies to avoid hearing women singing. Chief education officer Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister said that incidents of religious soldiers walking out of ceremonies to avoid the religious transgression were a "worrisome phenomenon," as they were liable to weaken group cohesion.