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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Religious soldiers forced to shave off beards, video taken aboard Navy ship on Sabbath blogged on Sabbath by IDF spokesperson

Yeah, this has a lot to do with their ability to be good soldiers. Oh yeah, and it really gives the IDF tons of credibility when they say that they are prepared to accommodate Haredi religious practices. In one of the IDF's top units, soldiers were recently threatened that they would be charged with insubordination if they did not shave off their beards (link in Hebrew). Several soldiers panicked and did shave them off.
One of them told 0404 news "It was the worst Sabbath of my life. I sat in the synagogue and I was embarrassed to tell my friends that I was beardless because the IDF, in the army of the Jewish state, I was forced to shave off my beard. I am considered an outstanding soldier. They sent me to an officer's course, but they demanded that I and my religious friends shave off our beards. One of my friends doesn't plan to have his off, and we are afraid that they will expel him, and all because of a demand that is against IDF rules.

I shaved off the beard because I was forced to do so a minute before I was to receive new soldiers for instruction. I was afraid they would expel me. I could not concentrate the entire Sabbath. I am sorry I did this.
Over the weekend, many of you saw a video from last week of IDF soldiers singing Sabbath songs on the deck of a ship on their way to intercept the Iranian weapons ship. While going on that mission on the Sabbath was clearly allowed (saving someone from mortal danger takes precedence over all but three cardinal sins - idol worship, murder and forbidden sexual relations, and in any event, if a ship embarks before the Sabbath you are allowed to continue on the journey on the Sabbath), videotaping the soldiers singing Sabbath songs was clearly not a matter of life and death. And even if it was staged and did not happen on the Sabbath, or if it was done by non-religious soldiers who didn't know better, the fact that it was uploaded on the Sabbath by the IDF spokesperson is a clear, non-essential violation of the Sabbath by an official IDF office - the office of the spokesperson.

I won't link that video. Many years ago, one of my rabbis told me that it is forbidden to watch a video or listen to a broadcast of a live event that you know was made by a Jew on the Sabbath.

And you wonder why Haredim say that they cannot serve in the IDF without having their religious values compromised?

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At 10:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

to be dan lkaf zchut, the filmer was mesorati or less, didn't know that it was a ?melacha[?derabbanon? and it is better he continues bshogeg rather than being told to stop which will not happen and turn him off, vs the haspaah/influence on many viewers. maybe mutav shyechalel shabat echad...
today more than ever is a time for AHAVAT CHINAM

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Akiva said...

Your response is excessive. I have had several children in charedi units. The simple point is, the army is a screwed up inefficient organization at everything except fighting. Charedi or secular, if you don't stand up for your rights you'll end up with clothes that don't fit, food that can't be eaten, missing out on holiday celebrations or activities, etc. Similarly, if you don't demand time to daven, they won't give it to you. If you don't demand a p'tor zakan and peyot, you won't get it (even if you arrive with beard and payos).

As if it's different in the real world? Jobs that required religious accommodation don't automatically release you early for Shabbat in the US, nor automatically give you off for Jewish holidays. Heck, one of my children had a frum Jewish restaurant keep the employees cleaning until 30 minutes before licht benchen (hashgachat rav reuben).

Simply brief these young men that they're not in yeshiva or at home, they have to PUSH just a little for their yiddishkeit. And yes, in the worst case they may find themselves getting thrown out of a course when they then appeal and take it to the news.

Have you never had to risk a job for Shabbos? I had to threaten to quit and sue over yom tovim on one.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I think you missed the point of the video story. The point wasn't that some mesorati kid made the video on his cell phone. The point was that a week later, the official IDF video unit had to post it on Shabbat. They couldn't wait a few hours?

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I have discussed my employment history on this blog many, many times, and in fact, one of my motivations for leaving the US and making aliya was the hope that my career advancement would not be blocked by the fact that I am Shomer Shabbat.

Sadly, that's not always true.

A Haredi kid is taught to obey authority unquestioningly. That's what daat Torah is all about. While he may argue on the theoretical level, on the practical level, he will always do what his rabbis tell him. And if he's in a situation where there are no rabbis, he doesn't often know how to fend on his own.

As to the motivations of the army, it's not all inefficiency. Here's something I wrote on the topic nearly seven years ago that's still relevant today.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger Cargosquid said...

From a completely secular, non-Israeli point of view....

You are clean shaven so your gas mask fits. G-d forbid that the Palestinians get gas.


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