Some 20 Golani Brigade soldiers were asked by a non-military rabbi over the weekend to wear their berets and attend a Torah lesson, Ynet has learned.
The soldiers, who belong to a reconnaissance unit, were not certain whether the lesson was optional or mandatory. The rabbi, Benny Nahum, also asked the soldiers to recite a prayer while they were eating the traditional Hanukkah sufganiyot.
The IDF said the rabbi entered the base, which is located in the Western Galilee, after receiving authorization from low-level commanders. However, the rabbi breached the agreement he had made with the commanders regarding the duration and objective of his meeting with the troops, the army said.
'They didn't want to make a fuss.' Soldiers with Rabbi Nahum
"These are excellent soldiers who did not how to act in this situation. The rabbi took advantage of this," a relative of one of the soldiers told Ynet on Sunday.
"Not all of them (soldiers) are religious. They felt uncomfortable because they were being forced to listen to a religious lecture. How can a rabbi, who is not even in the army, be allowed to enter military base and order soldiers around? It was important for them – because of their desire to succeed in an elite unit – not to make a fuss," the relative said.
Speaking to Ynet, Rabbi Nahum said "I suggested that the soldiers wear their berets like people (wear yarmulkes) in synagogue. Some put the berets on immediately without making a big deal out of it – other didn't. I was invited by a commander at the base to meet the soldiers. A number of officers were present during the lesson.
"I've accompanied soldiers during all the wars, be it by comforting them or handing them tefillin. I do it out of sheer love for them, and I apologize if it made anyone feel uncomfortable," he said.
"I came to the base to give a lesson on the differences between holidays that were forced upon us by the torah and holidays such as Hanukkah and Yom Kippur, which weren't."
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