Chief Military Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz declared Thursday he will prevent any attempt to introduce radical religious beliefs which discriminate against women into the IDF. Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered Peretz to hold an emergency meeting with IDF rabbis as early as Sunday.
In a letter addressed to IDF commanders, the chief military rabbi pledged that there will be no Beit Shemesh-style wrongdoings in the IDF. "The spirit of the Jewish halacha does not allow discrimination against women under any circumstance, of any nature, and any other interpretation which encourages this is wrong.
"We have recently been witnessing a grave phenomenon in which women are being discriminated against outside the army and unfortunately there have also been similar instances inside the IDF," Peretz wrote. "I find it hard to stand by in the face of such grave incidents. They are immoral, are not in line with the IDF spirit and values and in complete contradiction to the spirit of Judaism."
He further added, "In the IDF, army orders alone dictate the nature of the organization and determine what needs to be done in various cases. I, as chief military rabbi, am working for a common path between the military command system and the halachic value system and a common campaign of all IDF soldiers to prevent any case of discrimination against women in the name of religion within the army."
Referring to religious soldiers who exercise severe modesty measures and expecting consideration by their commanders, he said: "This joint path means that the individual does not shape the military sphere but respects it and knows that the army is doing everything in order to honor the wishes of the individual."
Addressing recent events at Beit Shemesh, Peretz said: "There is no room for radical and erroneous interpretations of the halacha which serve as an excuse for discrimination against women. The Jewish spirit, our ancestors' legacy demands respect for women."
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