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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Does the IDF want Haredim?

I am sure that many of you who have read one post after another on this blog about the ongoing controversy surrounding the potential drafting of Haredim might be wondering why the simplest solution isn't being implemented. If, as even I have admitted, there are Haredim who are 'on the list' in the yeshivoth, but aren't really learning, why aren't they drafted while those who are serious about their studies remain in the study hall? The short answer, as exposed by Tzippy Yarom, is that the army in its current make-up is hostile to Haredim. Tzippy Yaron lists thirteen incidents over recent months that at least give the impression that the army's goal is to force the Haredi soldiers to become secular, rather than allowing them 'just to serve' and then return to their yeshivoth or join the work force. That link is in Hebrew, but I will give you a list of some of the incidents, including links to many of them which I have covered on this blog.

1. Three weeks ago, members of the Nachal Haredi brigade (reminder - the IDF's largest combat unit) were forced to be present at a baptism. Jews are forbidden from attending Christian religious ceremonies, which are considered idol worship under Jewish law.

2. Haredi soldiers in another unit that is meant for Haredim were forced to attend an all-day educational seminar... in a church. Jews are forbidden from entering churches (some hold only churches that are in active use) because they are considered a place of idol worship under Jewish law.

3. On Christmas Day, Haredi soldiers received a lecture about the 'significance of the day' instead of their mandated Torah study sessions.

4. The IDF's chief rabbi - who was brought in from the outside after Leftists in the government complained that the previous rabbi was too religious - 'ruled' that all soldiers have to attend events at which female soldiers sing, including Haredi soldiers whose terms of service include a commitment that they will not serve with women. The day after this 'ruling' was issued, the rabbi who was coordinating service for Haredim in the Air Force resigned. Subsequently, the IDF chief rabbi forced him to leave earlier than planned.

5. Haredi soldiers - whose terms of service 'guarantee' no contact with women - were forced to take courses with women and to clean women's rest rooms.

6-7. At the IDF's Sirkin base, where many Haredi soldiers were stationed, there was no Kosher supervision, representatives of the unit were not allowed to inspect the Kashruth of the kitchen, meat was cooked in a dairy kitchen (by mistake...), or soldiers were told to make the kitchen Kosher at the expense of their sleep hours.

8. Haredi IDF soldiers being held in the brig at Prison 4 were forced to carry out work that violated the Sabbath in the absence of any operational need.

9. A Haredi IDF soldier was forced by his direct commander to shave off his beard despite two higher ranking officers having approved his keeping it. The soldier was a cancer survivor who had fought to be accepted into the army. His commanding officer had him sent to the brig week after week because he refused to shave off his beard.

10. The army barber shaved the sidecurls of Haredi soldiers with "blade 0" (the closest possible shave, which violates a Torah prohibition of shaving the sidecurls off completely).

11. Haredi soldiers at the Sde Dov base (near Tel Aviv!) were forced to subsist on bread and chocolate for two weeks after the base did not provide Kosher supervision for their food.

12-13. At the Tzrifin base, Haredi soldiers - whose terms of service include no contact with women - were forced to sit in courses with women, to be taught by female instructors and to share their dining room with women.

For those who read Hebrew, there are links documenting each incident above here.

I am sure that someone is going to write in and comment that the Haredi soldiers should not be so 'backward,' that an army is an army and sometimes must do things differently, and that the Haredi soldiers have no 'right' to different terms of service. But the facts remain that not one incident above was dictated by an operational necessity, that the terms of service were promised to the Haredi soldiers as an inducement to enlist, that the broken promises are now playing a major role in the wall-to-wall opposition in the Haredi world to sending anyone to the army, and that if you draft people who aren't willing to go, you are likely to end up with a lot more Gilad Shalit's, God forbid.

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At 6:32 PM, Blogger Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I've been out of Tzahal since Feb. 89; but I did regular and reserve duty as a combat soldier and yeshiva student for nine years (not Hesder). There was nothing institutionally nefarious going on then; and I don't believe there is now. 1. Much of the haredi population is spoiled, and doesn't know how to handle mishaps and misunderstandings that upset their rigidly set religious routine. 2. Related, much of this population doesn't know halacha well nor how to deal with halachic challenges; and they think anything outside their minhag is actually a violation of halacha. 3. Large organizations, especially armies, mess up all the time. It isn't necessarily a malicious conspiracy. One has to be a bit flexible, even adventurous, and ready to adapt and overcome the problems. There will always be problems. Generations of soldiers like myself managed well and proudly by being prepared and by being committed to the mitzvah we had to do. Despite the occasional problems regarding one religious issue or another (almost always a misunderstanding combined with military bureaucratic rigidity), I remember my service in Tzahal proudly and mostly fondly. So do most or all of my dati friends. I went in from the yeshiva, later returned to yeshiva, and if anything my service strengthened and educated me how to better cope as a Torah Jew in the world, as in fact one of my rashei yeshiva (himself a combat officer) said it would. I certainly learned a more mature attitude toward applied halachah. I think the biggest problem here is probably attitude. If these soldiers really approached this task as a mitzvah, they would pursue it with the same willingness and readiness to overcome that they do other challenging mitzvoth.

Akiva at MP had a relevant post to this recently, though my route was different. http://www.mpaths.com/2014/02/whats-with-your-nachal-charedi-army-son.html

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Everything Mordechai said. I want to add that the "source" you link to is totally bogus. One man's opinion and he himself gives no sources whatsoever and no context whatsoever.

Here are examples of the poor reasoning found in your posting...

"Haredi soldiers at the Sde Dov base (near Tel Aviv!) were forced to subsist on bread and chocolate for two weeks after the base did not provide Kosher supervision for their food."

All food in the IDF is kosher. All of it. The IDF serves no non-kosher food whatsoever.

At best, the IDF for some period of time was not serving food that the was proper Hashkacha for the soldiers. That is at best.

"At the Tzrifin base, Haredi soldiers - whose terms of service include no contact with women - were forced to sit in courses with women, to be taught by female instructors and to share their dining room with women."

In no way is a Haredi man rendered un-Haredi by merely looking at a woman. And it is offensive and revolting and disgusting and misogynistic and frankly causes antisemitism to say that it is against Halacha for a Haredi man to merely sit in a classroom with a woman or be taught non-Jewish subjects by women.

I could go on but you get the point.

The problem is with (a) hearsay evidence that you posted (about churches and learning about Christmas) and (b) a deeply troubled Haredi culture that simply must change if Israel is to thrive in the coming years as a first world state.

No idea how you, as a modern person, could possibly defend any of this.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Sorry I would amend my comment from before but I cannot...I did not see the links to each story documenting each incident. Now I am able to see them. I apologize.

In any case...overall the notion that Haredi men cannot even have any form of communication with women is something I experience personally and have little respect for. I see no reason why this must be reflected in an army that ultimately has to be an army for all citizens - including women as well.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger InMemoryOf Yossi said...

I am a chasidishe woman. I have no problem with a man not talking to me.
For over thirty years I won't even walk on the same side of the street as a church. My voting precinct is in a church, and I won't set foot inside, even though everyone knows why people are there. My rav told me not to if I can avoid it.
There are different levels of kashrus. I won't eat off kalim that are not cholov yisroel.
I don't wear bullet proof stockings, and my shaitel goes below my shoulders. I wear denim skirts. I am considered modern by some standards. How do you expect the idf to meet their needs when there is not one size fits all? It's not possible, and as carl had pointed out, it's not the reason. I've had people bend over backwards to accommodate my needs. If they really wanted charadim they would be working a lot harder to make them happy.


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