In two weeks or so, the IDF Rabbinate will embark on “Operation Elul” ahead of Rosh Hashana. This is a religious revival campaign mostly based on lectures delivered by rabbis to tens of thousands of secular soldiers.
It would be proper to allow a secular soldier who is not interested in hearing the lectures to skip them. Why? For the same reason religious soldiers demand to skip performances by female singers.
As opposed to what many religious Israelis apparently think, seculars too have a worldwide and they also don’t like it when forced to listen to people whose words contradict secular principles. Hence, the seculars are also deserving of having their views and thoughts respected.
In both cases, I am of course not referring to official military ceremonies. Secular soldiers must also cover their heads while a prayer in memory of fallen troops is recited, just like religious soldiers are not exempt from attending Yizkor ceremonies that feature female singers.
If a soldier who stands at attention during a Holocaust Commemoration Day or Memorial Day ceremony cannot think of anything else but the level of sexiness in a female singer’s voice, he should be released from the IDF in any case on mental grounds.
However, the above equation does not apply to events that are not an obligatory military ceremony. If a religious soldier does not wish to attend the performance of a military band at his base during his leisure time, we can spare him this experience. At the same time, if a secular soldier does not wish to hear a rabbi lecture we can and should spare him this experience as well.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Benny Gantz recently said that the issue of female singing in the military should be examined. This would also be an excellent opportunity to look into the issue of rabbinical lectures. If we have an army that accommodates the requests of various sectors, let’s apply this to everyone.
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