Daily Israel Report

Yesh Atid No. 2 Opposed Lapid on Women in IDF

Min. Shai Piron has opined that Jewish law opposes female enlistment. Lapid threatened to fire Chief Rabbis for this position.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 1/14/2014, 8:45 AM

Yair Lapid and Shai Piron
Yair Lapid and Shai Piron
Flash 90

Finance Minister and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid threatened on Friday to fire the Chief Rabbis over their halakhic (Jewish legal) ruling against religious female enlistment in the IDF. However, it now turns out that the number 2 figure on Lapid's list, Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron, has made near identical pronouncements in the past.

A search reveals that Piron, in answering halachic questions on the website Kipa, was asked why girls are advised to do national service instead of IDF service.

"The sages of Israel in all the generations saw the framework of national service as preferable for girls," wrote Piron in response. "The attitude of the rabbis of Israel (towards military service for girls) ranged from the sharply negative, even using the term 'incest', to agreeing with the importance of serving in the army, but ruling that arrangements of modesty prevent girls from fulfilling their obligations."

Lapid attacked the Chief Rabbis over announcing a similar ruling last week, calling the religious ruling "insolent and a national scandal," and vowing that "we will act to have them dismissed, both in the Knesset and in the government and even in the legal sphere if need be."

The outburst sparked a backlash, as hareidi-religious MKs accused Lapid of megalomania and tyranny, the head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivas Rabbi Haim Druckman called the threats "first class chutzpah," adding that Israel is not communist Russia.

Jewish Home MKs Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan and Yoni Chetboun similarly attacked the statements. Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, following a notable silence on the issue, urged Lapid to respect the Chief Rabbinate on Monday.

The fact that Piron, a leading figure from Lapid's own party has in the past expressed an opinion directly opposed to that of the Finance Minister, is thus an embarrassment.

In a question asked by another young woman on the website, Piron wrote "the problem with military service is the general atmosphere that doesn't allow a life without unnecessary deterioration. The pressure, the abnormal reality, risk bringing out the impure aspects in meetings between boys and girls."

After noting the balance between trusting ourselves and guarding ourselves, Piron continued "to each of us it is clear that there are places we don't go. Not because it is certain that something [bad] will happen there, but because there is concern that something might happen there. Therefore we don't march on dangerous paths, and are shocked by adventure seekers who take their lives in their hands."

"As we are aware of the physical dangers, even more so must we be sensitive to everything concerning spiritual dangers. Therefore - do everything not to arrive at a dangerous situation and avoid being in all types of service entailing danger," concluded the Yesh Atid MK.

Piron has noted in the past that the liberal viewpoint of his party, Yesh Atid, doesn't fit his opinions. For example, he published his opinion on the religious question of listening to women singing, a source of tension at IDF ceremonies in the past, by writing "there is no permission in any situation for a woman to sing alone in front of men."