Nat'l religious rabbi: Women shouldn’t be MKs

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner says in lecture that women involved in politics is not modest, later says comments were taken out of context.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leading figure in the national-religious community, said in conversation with his students this week that women should not stand for election to the Knesset.
“It is forbidden for a woman to serve as member of Knesset, it’s not modest,” the rabbi said. “Public exposure contradicts the Jewish principle that ‘all the glory of the daughter of a king is internal,’” Aviner added in comments first published on the Kipa website.
The rabbi subsequently stated in a letter to Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely that his comments were taken out of context.
“For sure, the Torah ideal is that women should not be involved in politics, but clearly, if there will be women in the Knesset anyway, then certainly one should vote for those women that will bring the most blessing to the nation,” wrote Aviner.
Since Hotovely’s Likud party has places on its electoral list reserved for women, her political activities are to be praised, he concluded.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, the rabbi said that he made his comments in a general theoretical lesson on the issue according to Jewish law, and that it was not meant to be an “operative” ruling.
However, he reconfirmed his position that, based on the rulings of Rabbi Avraham Hacohen Kook, the first chief rabbi of Palestine, women running for political office is not an ideal situation.
Opposition to the rabbi’s comments came from several quarters, including Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, another prominent national-religious leader.
“I don’t understand where this perspective came from, that a woman serving in a public office is not modest,” Cherlow said on Galei Yisrael radio station on Wednesday, adding as an aside that it is also incumbent on men to behave in a modest way in positions of public service.
“How is it possible to say that by definition a woman working in a public position is doing something immodest?” he added, saying that from his perspective women should be encouraged to participate in the political life of the country in order that their voices are heard.
The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group also weighed in, describing Aviner’s stance as anachronistic and part of a “worrying phenomenon.”
One renowned female Jewish leader is Deborah the Prophet, a leader in the biblical era of the Judges.
Aviner said that the political involvement during biblical times of Deborah the prophet came about because there was no one else at the time who could take the leadership role.