Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a prominent Religious Zionism leader, is calling on young religious men to delay their enlistment with the IDF
until every soldier will be allowed to excuse himself from military ceremonies which include women performers.
Rabbi Melamed, head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva
which was removed from the hesder arrangement with the army due to his refusal to condemn soldiers' disobedience, made the remark in an interview with the Galei Israel radio station.
According to the rabbi, one cannot accept the General Staff's decision
to force soldiers to listen to women sing in an official ceremony, and therefore "one can enlist and refuse orders and one can stop the draft as a public protest until this is fixed."
Melamed went on to say that the general consensus among rabbinical religious authorities was that the ban on listening to a women sing is as serious as mixing meat and milk.
He said he was convinced that a decision by young religious men not to enlist would shortly change the order approved by the General Staff forum.
He stressed that serving in the army was a mitzvah one must not give up on, but claimed that temporarily avoiding enlistment in order to fix the current situation was legitimate, as "we must not accept any coercion."
Rabbi Melamed slammed the Military Rabbinate for "saying Amen" to the chief of staff's decision, and called on Chief IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz to step down.
About two weeks ago, Ynet reported of a letter
distributed in hesder yeshivot, demanding that IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
reconsider his order to forbid religious troops from leaving official IDF ceremonies that include women singing.
According to the letter, "Enforcing the attendance of religious soldiers when women are singing is in direct opposition to the Jewish Halacha and is in fact secular coercion, which goes against the principles of liberty, equality and justice in general and the spirit of the IDF in particular."
Former Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General (Res.) Avichai Ronsky responded to Rabbi Melamed's remarks in a conversation with Ynet.
"Any call not to enlist cuts not just the branch, but the entire trunk the State of Israel
sits on," he said. "This sanctuary must not be touched. We enlist in any case, even if there are mistakes and individual moves which may hurt the religious soldier."
According to Ronsky, rifts between commands and Halacha must be dealt with pleasantly and "with velvet gloves", as he did when he served as chief IDF rabbi, and mostly quietly.
"Rabbi Melamed's approach, tactics and strategy are wrong," he said. "We must not have a dialogue that immediately creates such a balance of fear. It only inflames the situation and plays into the hands of those who fear religious commanders in the army."
Ronsky added that rabbis were working to soften the new order, which he himself opposes, but that even if they failed – the relations between the soldier and commander create a differently reality on the ground. Therefore, he said, he is convinced that "no one will be forced to listen to a women sing."
According to the former IDF rabbi, "The army is not detached from the Israeli society, even if someone gets a little carried away with the atmosphere in the media."