Internal Affairs Minister Meir Sheetrit caused some embarrassment this week when during a ceremony in the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad he called on the audience to stop the separation between men and women and urged the ultra-Orthodox public to enlist in the army.
At the opening of his speech Tuesday, Sheetrit called on the crowd, made up of rabbis, prominent public figures and haredi MKs, among others, to lift the partition separating between the men and the women in the audience.
"I think that in an event of this nature, screens are unnecessary. We're not dancing; we're just holding a ceremony. This screen should be removed," he stated.
The minister then went on to deliver his own interpretation to the Talmudic saying which states that "The world stands on three things: Torah, service and acts of kindness." According to Sheetrit, "Our forefathers combined everything. Torah should be combined with work and military service, as well as with scripture studies.
"My interpretation says that a person shouldn't claim he cannot work only because he studies Torah. Ministers Eli Yishai and Yitzhak Cohen served in the army, most of Shas' ministers served in the army. We should all carry the load together."
Yitzhak, one of the hundreds of people who attended the event, said: "This was very embarrassing. There were some very important rabbis there, and many residents, mostly haredim, and Sheetrit didn't understand that he was a guest.
"He came to explain to us, in a condescending manner, what we're doing wrong. I would never dare come to his house and tell him where he, as a secular person, is mistaken. We have a solid and honorable worldview that he cannot just do away with in two sentences."