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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

National Religious soldiers demand exemption from events with women singing

They can't say it's just the Haredim who place the Torah above following orders in the IDF (and lest any of you misunderstand I wholly agree with that approach for reasons I will explain at the end of this post). Between 100 and 200 National Religious soldiers, mostly aged between 17 and 20, from a variety of yeshivot have signed a petition saying that they will defer their army enlistment until such time as they are exempted from any ceremonies at which women sing.
A small rebellion broke out in the heart of the national-religious world this week over the issue of women singing in the army. Dozens of pre-army youth from several yeshivot have signed a petition in the past few days vowing not to enlist in the army until religious soldiers are exempted from army ceremonies in which women sing.

The IDF General Staff issued a directive this month obligating all soldiers, religious or otherwise, to be present in all official army ceremonies even if they involve women singing, something generally prohibited by Jewish law.

The petition has been passed between several religious learning institutes. According to Noam, one of the activists behind the petition who spoke with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, they have gathered between 100-200 signatures thus far, mostly from students currently in yeshivot who have deferred their service, but also from some learning in the hesder program, which combines Torah study with IDF service.

Noam, who was unwilling to give his full name, said most of those who had signed were between the ages of 17 and 20.

“Of late, processes have begun to coercively instruct soldiers to transgress the commandments of the Torah, such as hearing women sing,” the petition says. “We declare that as long as these efforts continue we will not be able to enlist in the army. The commandments of the Creator of the World are more important than the commandments of any man of flesh and blood.”

Jewish law prohibits men from listening to women sing in person, although some religious-Zionist rabbis have ruled recently that it is permissible to attend army ceremonies with women singing since it is done without the intention of enjoying the performance.
Let's stop right there for a minute. I'm going to teach you a little Gemara now, because I believe that some of those rabbis (and when you continue to read the article, every National Religious rabbi quoted seems to disagree with this silent majority) have let the Zionist part get in the way of the religious part.

The Gemara in Tractate Psachim folio 25 talks about someone who must pass by a house of idol worship and smells the incense that the idol worshipers are burning. That smell is what's called issur hana'a - it is forbidden to benefit from it. The Gemara raises four possibilities. If one has a different way of going and nevertheless walks past the house of idol worship with the intent of benefiting from the smell, that is most definitely forbidden. If he has no choice but to walk past the house of idol worship and he has no intention of benefiting from the smell and he does whatever he can to avoid the smell altogether, that is permitted. The question is the two cases in between: If he has no choice but to go past there, but he intends to benefit from the smell, the Gemara says that is forbidden - that's the source for allowing the use of earplugs at the army ceremonies in an attempt to avoid benefiting. And if he has a choice but goes past there anyway without the intention of benefiting, the Chafetz Chaim rules in Klal 6 of his book by the same name that it is forbidden (the Chafetz Chaim discusses this in the context of a rule prohibiting even hearing - let alone accepting or believing - slander, but the rule is the same nonetheless for all things that fall under issur hana'a).

If soldiers in the heat of battle had to walk past women who were singing or who were improperly dressed, and there was no other way to get to the battle, they would be allowed to pass those women so long as they had no intention of benefiting and did all they could in order to avoid benefiting from the singing or improper dress. But if they're not going to a battle and there's no other necessity, it's forbidden to walk past, even without the intention of benefiting from the sounds of the women's voices or from staring at them.

Let's look at this honestly: Is a ceremony with women singing a life or death threat? Is it a military necessity?

Let's go on a little bit more.
Against the background of the petition, the prominent and influential national-religious Dean of the Har Bracha Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, said on the Galei Yisrael radio station Tuesday that religious youth should postpone their enlistment into the IDF until the army finds a way to exempt them from official ceremonies that feature women’s singing.

“It is not possible to reconcile with the decision of the General Staff that obligates soldiers to [listen to] women singing. Therefore [soldiers can] enlist and then refuse orders, or they can stop [their enlistment] as a public protest, until this is fixed.” He said military service is “a religious commandment that cannot be renounced, but that a temporary deferral to fix the current situation is legitimate, since no reconciliation can be made with [religious] coercion.”

The issue exploded within the IDF in September, when nine religious soldiers in the IDF officers training course left an army event in which women were singing due to their religious objections. They refused to return to the performance when instructed to do so by their commanding officer, and four of the cadets were subsequently expelled from the course.

Soldiers from the national-religious sector are heavily over-represented in the IDF ranks, especially in combat units and the officer class, in comparison with the relative size of their total population.
Read the whole thing.

Now I know that there are some of you out there who are saying "this is an army, they're soldiers, they have to follow orders, and you cannot run an army with soldiers who run to their rabbi every time they're given an order to follow to check out whether it's okay by the Torah." And certainly in battle and in many training exercises, there may be occasions when that's true. But even the modern laws of warfare don't absolve a soldier who was 'following orders.' "I was following orders" didn't work at Nuremberg. It didn't work at My-Lai. And to some extent, at least, it's not going to work in front of God after 120 years (the way we refer to death) either (God has a different power of judgment than human beings, and may Choose to Absolve someone who might not deserve it in our judgment). In fact, the IDF itself teaches soldiers to disobey any order that is bilti chuki ba'alil (prima facie illegal). To take an extreme (and thankfully non-existent in the IDF) example, I can guarantee you that no soldier would be let off a court martial because his commander ordered him to gratuitously torture Arab prisoners.

We've talked about the concept of obedience in the army and we've talked about the (lack of) military necessity for ceremonies that include women singing. Those of us who are here are well aware that the political echelon has a history of using the army to meld diverse people into a homogenous group. Inevitably, that has meant a weakening - or abandonment - of religious observance. The first example of this was a meeting between Ben Gurion and the Chazon Ish (which I discussed here) in which - at a time when women did not serve in any Western army - the Chazon Ish offered to send all of the yeshiva boys to the army if the army would be all male. Ben Gurion turned him down. (That meeting is discussed by others here and here).

The army and the government do not have clean hands on anything having to do with religious soldiers in the military. There is a lack of trust - and for good reason. Many religious soldiers will not accept the authority of the army on issues of religion unless they see a clear military necessity. As a result, the army must choose between women singing and satisfying a demographic that is providing a disproportionately high percentage of its officers corps. To me, the choice seems obvious.

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At 3:23 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Selective enforcement. And, as in any human community, who gets to decide? Two things:

First, to compare the women singing rule to the slander rule that you mentioned would seemingly provide an example of how to bypass the rule. These same leaders slander huge swaths of the diaspora as political red meat to their "base"? If they can ignore that part and actually use it as a tool benefitting themselves, then it shouldn't be hard to bypass the singing part.

Second, the comparison is that women singing is in the category of Mai Lai and the holocaust? Wow. No gradations at all? Refusing orders to participate in a group cohesion building activity would be comparable to refusing orders in a Mai Lai or genocide? And no employment of the section on rules suspended to save lives and, by extension, to form a united force to save Israel?

Well, this has happened in Jewish history more than once before. Hopefully, someday we'll solve it without perpetuating such huge consequences to our people.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not difficult to resolve. Get the IDF back to doing what its name implies: defending Israel with force.

They've been distracted long enough fighting Jews. Here, too, all for singing. Just when they've been successful with programs opening up to more religious soldiers.

Stupid Jews.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Niko said...

I guess IDF should be renamed Idols Defence Force, since to the brass singers are more core function than actual defence of Israel.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Carl, you think you are speaking for Judaism, but you simply are not. The kol isha law is itself based upon one line in the Talmud, which itself was the subject of countless back and forth by rabbis. Then, ultimately, the ultra-Orthodox community decided to follow one stream of Judaism as said by a human male rabbi, versus another stream (as said by a human male rabbi). If you think you are following Hashem, you are empirically wrong.

Beyond that, I have done extensive research in this, and according to even Orthodoxy, Jewish males are permitted to listen to a woman sing (if they are forced to do so, such as in the IDF), as long as they obtain no enjoyment from it all. They thus can think of other matters while they listen to a woman singing.

I will conclude by saying that Chiloni soldiers are forced to sit through countless religious presentations and lectures in the IDF, and you don't see an uproar of Chilonim (who by the way form the backbone of the IDF), demanding exemptions from having to sit through all sorts of mandatory religious ceremonies.

So I fail to see the need under any form of logic to require religious soldiers to be exempt from listening to a woman singing. And for you to compare soldiers following orders by listening to women sing to soldiers following orders by engaging in the Holocaust is simply obscene.

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Red Tulips,

You obviously did not read the post, and once again repeat arguments that were made previously.

First, the rabbis involved this time are not Haredi. Rabbi Cherlow cannot be categorized as Haredi and Rabbi Melamed cannot be categorized as anti-Zionist. Those who disagree with them are unnamed - at least by this article.

Second, whether the mainstream halachic determination that kol isha is forbidden was made by humans (as you claim) or by God, the fact is that none of these people is going to listen to you, and they will stay in their yeshivot rather than serve in the army if serving in the army means they have to listen to women singing. Given that National Religious soldiers (and not chilonim) currently make up about 40% of the officers' corps - and an even higher percentage of the combat units - while probably being less than 20% of the population, do you really think (from NEW YORK!)that it's more important to have women sing than to have these soldiers serve in the army? Who do you think will replace them?

Third, many (most) of these soldiers currently serve in segregated (male only) units. The IDF has tried to change that in the past and the hesder yeshivot (which are National Religious and NOT Haredi) threatened to pull all of their students out of the army. The IDF backed down.

Where is the military necessity for male soldiers to hear women singing? The short answer is - there isn't one.

Finally, I did not (as a couple of you seem to have included) intend to draw a parallel between the Holocaust and women singing(!). What I intended to do was to show that in modern armies it is sometimes considered justified not to follow orders, and that the IDF has admitted as much by implementing the concept that an order can be prima facie illegal.

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me, is it forbidden for women to listen to male singers too, live i mean.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


No it's not.

Women are presumed to have better self-control.

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well that must have been a rule made by men then, Rabbis I mean, and it can't possibly be in Torah.

The reason, being you only need to see the effect male singers have on their female fans. Male pop singers who perform for female fans face the same wrath by the religious orthodoxy in Muslim countries, because of the effect they have on females.

Music is banned in Orthodox Islam, because it affects the senses. As a music lover myself, I agree 100% with that. You cannot possibly be not affected by a male singer.

come on girls..here own up..

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


I first want to note that I do think it is significant that kol isha laws appear subject to multiple intepretations - which is what I believe, and the information I have culled from speaking to Orthodox rabbis. Given that rabbis are telling soldiers to disobey army orders (be the orders in combat or not), shouldn't the Halachic certitude behind these rabbinic pronouncements then be subject to the absolutely highest standards possible? Otherwise, who leads the army? The officers or the rabbis?

I would like to stress the following: regardless of whether or not it is required under Judaism to obey kol isha laws (and I maintain that it is NOT required), it is simply unfair to Chilonim to say that they must sit through all IDF presentations - including many religious presentations that might go against their own core beliefs - but that religious soldiers (be they National Religious or Haredim) have exemptions for certain activities that do not fit their sensibilities.

This is no way to run an army and this is simply inequitable. And while 40% of the officer corps might be made up of National Religious soldiers, what of the 60% of the officer corps and the bulk of the IDF (which is made up of Chilonim)?

Chayma: Banning all music as you do under extremist interpretations of Islam is obviously a ridiculous answer to this dilemma.

At 12:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


But you didn’t respond to my question. Do you believe male singers affect females, the same way female singers affect males?

If you say yes, then the only solution is banning if you don't want the senses to be affected. The only other way, is to do what mainstream Islam does, allow it but under guidelines, ie no overt eroticism.

My point was, it’s discriminatory to only ban female singers, when male singers affect the females the same way. In fact, I’d say the problem is worse the other way round.

As for the musical ban in Orthodox Islam, it is only a very small minority that believe in and follow this ban of music. Mainstream Islam does not, in fact it celebrates music. Music is one of the many gifts we gave humanity.


Did you know that the musical scales "Do, ray, me, fa, so, la, tee doe" are named after Arabic Alaphabet letters "Dal, Ra, Meem, Fa, Sad, Lam" and "Seen" ? The 9th century artist Al Kindi developed and used written musical notation and Music Therapy. Visit the Muslim Heritage exhibition, next time it's in your city.

Music Science -

Art, science, culture, music, medicine, architecure, maths, and above all Monotheism you name it and we gave it.

The world owes Islam a debt it can never repay.

At 12:17 AM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Chayma: You are now being ridiculous. You actually think Islam gave the world "Art, science, culture, music, medicine, architecure, maths, and above all Monotheism"? Have you ever read a history book???

I would never say Muslims have not contributed towards arts, science, medicine, architecture, and math. Of course they did. But Islam and/or Muslims did not "give" science, culture, math, arts, etc to the world. The most that can be claimed is an Islamic contribution to those fields. And Judaism predates Islam by thousands of years. How exactly can you claim that it was Islam that "gave" the world monotheism??

Finally, I have made clear on numerous occasions that I do not believe it is necessary for any gender to be banned from listening to the singing voice of the other gender.

At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Idiot muslima Chayma:

Origin of the solfège syllables

The use of a seven-note diatonic musical scale is ancient, though originally it was played in descending order.

In the eleventh century, the music theorist Guido of Arezzo developed a six-note ascending scale that went as follows: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la. A seventh note, "si" was added shortly after. The names were taken from the first verse of the Latin hymn Ut queant laxis, where the syllables fall on their corresponding scale degree.

Ut queant laxis resonāre fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes.

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot the difference.

Then we'll talk some more.

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

I'm surprised at you. Didn't you know that Muslims invented Latin? In fact, they invented every language. And Mohamed spoke 70 of them all by himself.


At 9:00 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

P.S. I posted that video a few weeks ago.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Nital Nachtal - what's "nital" spelled backward? :)

2. Re the video, great minds... or did I send you the link?

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Judaism predates Islam that is true, but Monotheism began with Adam if you’re talking of who was the first Monotheist. But I didn’t say that, I said we gave Monotheism to the world. We went out to spread the word. No faith, led humanity to the one God like Islam has and still is.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shyguy, as usual trying to do a Bat Yeor, that lying ‘biatch’ (to borrow your word) tries to paint Islamic contributions as Christian ones out of spite.

You got that from Wikipedia? You missed this in the same Wiki article

An alternative theory on the origins of solfège proposes that it may have also had Arabic musical origins.
This origin theory was first proposed by François de Mesgnien Meninski in 1680, and then by J. B. de Laborde in 1780.[10][11][12][13] Guillaume Villoteau (Description historique, technique et litteraire des instruments de musique des orientaux in the Description de l'Égypte,[14] Paris 1809) appears to endorse this view.[citation needed] However, there is no documentary evidence for this theory.[15]

That is part of the effort to deny and downplay Muslim contribution, this habit was widespread during the Middle Ages in christian Europe. Take from the Muslim civilisations yet deny that.

Muslims used notation as early as the ninth century. Moreover, it’s widely acknowledged that Guido plagiarised it . Muslim Heritage has documented sources, their website has disabled the ‘copy and paste’ function, so you’ll have to go there to read more but they are part of the FSTC, a UK educational foundation which celebrates the Muslim contribution to civilisation, and used by universities worldwide.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the link ShyGuy. by the way, in the other thread I meant to ask you, what does 'noogie' mean?

You should not assume that everyone understands your street thug language. Not all of us roam the back street slums with a knife in our hands waiting to rob someone, before getting thr daily fix of cocaine, then tuning in to Bat Yeor or Robert Spencer, like you do.

But How did Guido know about Muslim work?

Soriano, revealed that Guido had studied in Catalogna, Hunke, established that these Arabic symbols were found in an eleventh century Latin treatise produced in Monte Cassino, a place which had been occupied by Muslims a number of times, and was the retiring palce of Constantine Africanus, the great Tunisian scholar who migrated from Tunis to Salerno and then to Monte Cassino. The role of Christian scholars who spent some time studying in the land of Islam is also an important factor. It is widely known that music was taught in Andalusian colleges. Ibn Farnes (d.888) was the firt to introduce it as an integral part of the department of the quadrivium.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


If we needed any proof you're not an American, we just got it.


As in "tough noogies."


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