MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) on Tuesday called hareidi-religious men not to join the IDF under any circumstances, including those programs that were especially established for hareidi-religious Jews.
Speaking in an interview on Radio Kol Chai, Gafni said, “If once I told a hareidi man to join the Shachar Kachol program, today I would tell him not to go to the army at all because they are trying to exclude religion. The military spoils the hareidim who join it.”
Gafni’s remarks come at the height of a tense period between the IDF and hareidi soldiers who serve in it, over the issue of women’s singing.
Torah law prohibits a Jewish man from listening to a live vocal performance by a woman who is not his wife, and likewise forbids a Jewish man from watching a woman dance, who is not his wife.
Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ruled last week that no soldier will be allowed to absent himself from official military ceremonies, even if it conflicts with his religious observance.
Religiously observant soldiers were told they will be required to attend official ceremonies even if a performance by a female singer or dancer is included. However, soldiers will be allowed to ask their commanders for an exemption from performances during private unit parties.
The ruling presents a conflict between a religious soldier's duty to obey his military commander's orders and his duty to obey G-d.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lt. Col. Rav Moshe Ravad, the Israel Air Force's Chief Rabbi, met IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan and asked him to relieve him of his post. He will remain in the IDF until his retirement, which is a few months away, but will not be in a command role.
Lt. Col. Ravad expressed his "loss of faith in the system" after what he saw as recent attempts to demean hareidi-religious soldiers and other religious soldiers.
Last week, he sent Nechushtan and IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz a letter in which he denied Rav Peretz's accusations that he had set back the process of enlisting hareidim to the IDF by resigning from stewardship of the Shachar Kachol program. He protested that it was the IDF Chief Rabbi who had caused the setbacks.
A source close to Lt. Col. Ravad told Arutz Sheva that the rabbi had been "deeply hurt" by the behavior of Brig. Gen. Peretz in the matter of women's singing in the IDF. The source said that by being silent on the matter, Brig. Gen. Peretz had joined the systemic IDF attack on religious soldiers.
Gafni’s comments on Tuesday come after remarks last week in which he warned young hareidi-religious men not to enlist in the IDF programs that were geared especially for the religiously observant population -- unless the army sets protocols to ensure the recruits will be able to maintain their observance of Torah law.
“If the IDF wants to enlist hareidim, it must adjust itself to accommodate their beliefs," Gafni said.