Expelled Religious IDF Officers Rejoin Course

Two religious IDF recruits expelled from a training program rather than transgress a Torah injunction have rejoined the officers' program.

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Chana Ya'ar,

Religious soldiers
Religious soldiers
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Two religious IDF recruits, expelled from a training program earlier this year rather than transgress the Torah injunction against listening to a woman's live singing, have rejoined the program.

Bahd 1 Commander Col. Eran Niv recently allowed the two soldiers to rejoin the school, and the officers' training course, after they took responsibility for their actions and expressed regret.

The two were members of a unit of religious soldiers who had earlier been led to understand that an arrangement was made in which they would be able to bypass the part of the ceremony in which the female soldier's live performance was held. Instead, the soldiers were forced by their commander to sit through it.

Both elected to directly disobey their commander's direct order to remain at the ceremony in which the female singer was performing, a situation which posed a serious dilemma for the Torah-observant young men. 

It is prohibited by Torah law for a Jewish man to be present when a woman other than his wife is singing in person, due to the fact that a woman's voice is considered a powerful, and even potentially seductive instrument. However, there are many different ways to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all parties involved, noted the nation's rabbis.

"It is completely forbidden to disobey orders unless they are unlawful orders," Niv said. "We need to safeguard the status quo between religious and secular soldiers in the IDF and that requires all sides to make compromises."

Bahd 1, located in Mitzpe Ramon, is also the venue for the only IDF officers' program for religious women. At present, 46 religiously observant women soldiers are studying to become IDF officers at the school.

Recent statistics indicate that 40 percent of cadets training to become officers in combat units are observant Jews. "It is a pleasure to see the increase in the number of religious female cadets in the school," a senior officer said.

"It requires us to set up a separate company for women and for men in some courses, but it is well worth it."