Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger states in a halachic opinion sent Monday to rabbis and community leaders in Israel
that the IDF
must "honor the right of religious soldiers to avoid listening to a woman' singing – whether she is singing alone, with other women or even with a man."
On the backdrop of the dismissal
of religious cadets from an officers' course after walking out
during a female soldier's song, the rabbi writes, "It's certainly unjustified and inappropriate to deny them their status and rights for strictly obeying the Torah and its laws."
The eight-page document reviews the halachic aspects of the issue. In order to prevent friction in the future, Metzger suggests, the army must ensure that only men are allowed to sing in events held in the presence of many religious soldiers.
Chief Rabbis Metzger and Amar with IDF Chief Gantz (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Alternatively, he says, the army should make sure that in places where a large majority of the soldiers are religious, they will be allowed to avoid listening to women singing. If they are a minority, and the commander decides to invite a female singer or a band, the religious troops should be allowed to be late or leave the event early without interrupting it.
The rabbi suggests, for example, that the religious soldiers sit in the back, near the exit, and leave one by one, rather than as a group, so as not to hurt the band members or spark unnecessary arguments.
The debate over women's singing in the army began about three weeks ago, after nine religious cadets walked out of a military event when a female soldier began singing as part of a military band.
Four of the nine cadets were dismissed from their officers' course, and one of them petitioned the High Court of Justice,
claiming that the dismissal was illegal.
On Sunday, Chief Military Rabbi Rafi Peretz expressed his support for the religious cadets after keeping silent for three weeks.
"I stood by the soldiers," Peretz said. "It's not a coincidence that not all of them were dismissed."
He added that he believes the army and Halacha should join forces, stating that he has been working on a ruling on the issue for a long time but prefers to examine things thoroughly rather than make a "populist statement".
The Chief Rabbinate issued a halachic opinion recently, ruling that the army "should create a ceremony honoring the outlooks of all those present, and bring a male rather than a female singer."
Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar met with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
two weeks ago and told him they expected the commanders to let a soldier leave an event which includes women's singing in an honorable manner.