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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Religious soldiers or female singers?

The IDF does stupid things like this and then they wonder why so many religious families in Israel are desperate to keep their sons out of the IDF.
Not too long ago I was at a national commemoration ceremony at Mount Herzl. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was sitting in the first row. Suddenly, without advance warning, a female in uniform walked up to the microphone and started to sing. All eyes were on the rabbi – will he be stepping out now? Yet the honorable rabbi remained seated. He looked down, and that’s it.

This was very noble of the rabbi, and he was the only person to act nobly there. Ceremony organizers behaved foolishly by failing to spare him this embarrassment. They should have decided ahead of time what to give up: The female singer or the chief rabbi’s presence.

In the abovementioned case of the cadets and the female singer, there is no question who we should give up. The IDF requires combat soldiers more than it requires female singers. In the next war, the army will be sending Golani to the front, not a military band. And Golani today comprises numerous religious soldiers.
The army and secular Israelis may not like it, but it's prohibited for religious men to hear women singing. Yes, some people are lenient if it's 'only' with a microphone and/or it's not live. But what the IDF pulled on Rabbi Amar - and what it pulled on a group of cadets who were then expelled from their unit for walking out - is absolutely prohibited under Jewish law. And the IDF knows it.

So why do they do things like this? Why do they try to rub religious soldiers' faces in religious prohibitions when - as author Haggai Segal points out - they so desperately need religious soldiers? Read here, here and here. Here too.

Then read the whole thing. The cultural war of the secular on the religious could yet bring the country down, God forbid.

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At 11:26 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I know this won't make you guys feel any better, but I'd be annoyed as a non orthodox Jew. Actually I didn't know this was one of the rules. I may not be one of you... not yet... but every day goes by and I wonder why I'm fighting the urge. I hate to be told what to do and when to do it... that is probably what stops me. I need the freedom to be creative... if I were not creative and open minded I would of never stumbled onto your blog in the first place. I don't know where I stand yet, but I sure don't like listening to "performances" in Reform shules.

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it permissable for Jewish females to listen to male singers?

What about live performances by sexy hunks who make you swoon? ;)

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I have to say that the rules against listening to female singers is an example of why I am not Orthodox today.

I agree that the IDF needs Orthodox soldiers. For real politik reasons, the IDF probably made a mistake there. However, there is nothing immoral or "wrong" - on any level - with females singing in front of men. It is - in my opinion - wrong to tell women that they are banned from singing in front of men, but men are capable of singing in front of women.

I think the prohibition against female singing is based upon a Medievil ideology that totally runs counter to human nature. It actually makes it more likely - not less - that Orthodox Jewish men will have an abnormal attitude towards both women and sexuality. In reality, no man will become overcome with the urge to ravish a woman because he hears her singing voice. By that same token, by making access to women so forbidden, it prevents men from relating to women in a healthy and natural way.

One final note: if the IDF starts preventing women from singing in front of men in order to appease Orthodoxy, then the question is: what's next? And at what point then will the IDF start to alienate the secular Israelis, who traditionally have formed the backbone of the army?

At 10:47 PM, Blogger ais cotten19 said...

As a non-Orthodox Jew who hates this law, I've got to say that no good ever came from rubbing someone's nose in it. The fact is that there's a lot less feminist (who have valid points) than orthodox soldiers, so they should try to be more considerate. They could have at least let people leave, instead of expelling them.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The IDF should revere G-d and respect Jewish law. No one wants to join an army that has no respect for morality or which fails to honor Jewish customs.


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