Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Friday launched a scathing attack on Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, after the two ruled that Jewish law forbids religious girls from enlisting in the IDF.
In a post on his Facebook page, Lapid slammed the decision and called for the two rabbis to be dismissed from their jobs. He also said that his Yesh Atid party will work to ensure that they are fired.
"It is insolent and a national scandal, and we will act to have them dismissed, both in the Knesset and in the government and even in the legal sphere if need be,” he declared.
"These civil servants who are employed by the State of Israel and receive a very lovely salary are sitting in their comfortable offices with their state-provided vehicles and announce that they do not agree that women should serve in the mud and cold as fighters, in aviation courses, in the Border Police,” he added.
"Does this mean that the female commander of the Eitam combat battalion should resign? And what about [the head of the IDF’s Manpower Division] Orna Barbivai? Or all the female teacher soldiers? And what about the female intelligence soldiers I met two weeks ago in the Northern Command, who prevent the infiltration of terrorists through the fence? Should they also not serve?” said Lapid.
“David Lau and Yitzchak Yosef no longer deserve to serve as Chief Rabbis in Israel,” he stated.
In making the decision, the Chief Rabbinate stated that it "forbids any type of enlistment to the IDF (by women), and in doing so continues the tradition of the previous Chief Rabbis."
The decision came right after the IDF opened the position of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) inspector to female soldiers, following the opening of the position to women by the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Services Ministry.
During the discussion in which the ruling was made, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, warned that the drafting of women to the IDF threatened "to erase the identity of Israel as a Jewish state."
In late December, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, made similar comments against female enlistment.
"Women and men cannot serve together in the field in combat – it is dangerous to security, a moral risk, the Torah opposes it, common sense is against it,” argued Rabbi Ariel. He firmly opposed female soldiers in combat positions in particular, instead promoting national service on a voluntary basis.
Lapid has been adamant on passing a law that would enlist all hareidi-religious Jews into the army.
In February 2012 the High Court ruled that the Tal Law, which allowed hareidi men to legally defer service, was unconstitutional and had failed in its goal of encouraging hareidi army service.
The government set up the Equal Burden of Service Committee to find a way to create a new legal reality in which hareidi men and Israeli Arabs would be required to perform some sort of national service.
The law is currently being drafted by the Shaked Committee, headed by MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). Yesh Atids MKs have argued in favor of imposing criminal sanctions against hareidim who evade draft, but Jewish Home MKs oppose that.
Hareidi-religious leaders have warned that mandatory enlistment would be seen as a threat to the fate of the Torah world. Hareidi MKs have warned that passing a law about hareidi enlistment will not help, as hareidi men will prefer to go to jail rather than abandon their studies.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)