The army has been going through a relative period of calm lately, yet on the IDF Rabbinate front we’ve seen fierce fighting. Hostile forces are repeatedly attacking IDF Chief Rabbi Ronsky over any tiny innovation – whether real or imaginary - he introduces at army bases.
The latest attack followed his alleged statement in objection of the enlistment of women to the IDF. At the end it turned out that the rabbi did not speak out against the enlistment of women, and sensationally enough he even pledged to offer spiritual support to any religious girl in the army. However, newspaper headlines already dubbed him as “the big mouth at General Staff headquarters.”
Those who are familiar with Rabbi Ronsky know that he is in fact a rather reticent man; a gentle and modest officer with an impressive combat record. His appointment as IDF chief rabbi was one of the only rays of light in Dan Halutz’s grim term as chief of staff.
He is loved not only by religious combat soldiers; even non-religious fighters who met him during his frequent visits to the frontlines love him.
Ronsky just doing his job
The demand to dismiss him is a provocation by a radical secular minority, which is not really bothered by the military service of women; it is not even bothered by draft-dodging men. This minority takes any opportunity to slam uncompromising rabbis and does not shy away from producing artificial opportunities to do so.
But even if we assume that the rabbi spoke out against the enlistment of women, so what? The IDF chief rabbi is a sort of advisor to the army chief on Jewish affairs, and as such it is his duty to make his opinion heard even if it is incommensurate with the IDF’s official position.
As long as the rabbi does not call for the persecution of religious female soldiers, but rather, merely expresses a principled Jewish law-based reservation over their enlistment, he is faithfully doing his job.
Or in other words, the IDF chief rabbi is not a rabbi on behalf of anyone. The extent of his authority extends far beyond the military kitchens and army synagogues. Paradoxically, many religious girls will hesitate to join the army if the rabbi is pushed into a corner.