Rabbi Aviner: Commanding a mixed unit a violation of halakha

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, rabbi of Beit El, says he did not authorize religious officer to serve in mixed-gender unit

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Yoel Domb,

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
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YRabbi Shlomo Aviner, the Rabbi of Beit El Aleph, referred in an Arutz Sheva interview to reports that he had authorized Lieutenant-General Nir Doffat to serve as commander of the mixed gender battalions. Rabbi Aviner emphasized that the officer's role is in violation of halakha (Torah law).

He said that when the question was presented to him it was not explained in detail or stated precisely and what it was referring to was unclear. "I don't interrogate those who ask me about the way in which they phrase their questions. Possibly I or someone else was asked about this but the problems and the complexity of the issue were not explained to me. The moment people explained to me what this appointment means, it was obvious to me that this is prohibited."

"One cannot command such a battalion or be a party to it. I give answers based on the questions I receive but now that it is clear to me what is under discussion, it is clearly not permissible."

He added that "this is not just against halakha, it is also against the morals accepted by mankind, since one cannot fight a war this way. Since the founding of the state we have been upset about women being conscripted to the army for various reasons, but mixed units are in direct contravention of halakha. Young men and women cannot train together, they can't train together in carrying a wounded male or female soldierl, they can't train together for fighting on the ground or for hand-to-hand combat. They can't stay in a vehicle all night together, sometimes even for a day or two and therefore one may not command such a unit."

Rabbi Aviner backs up the head of the Eli paramilitary academy Rabbi Levinstein [who complained that girls who go into the army with Jewish values leave it confused and with a distorted value system] : "It is clear that the army damages girls both physically and morally. On the physical level there are many girls with permanent damage including fertility problems. When they enlist they have to sign that they will not be able to sue for damages. Many girls don't even understand the ramifications of these issues, whether it involves fractures due to exertion [that make carrying a baby to term impossible] or fertility issues. They also suffer moral regression because mixed units are not healthy. A young girl under the command of a young man is in a morally problematic situation and that can have negative ramifications."

"If a girl goes on to a position of authority she ends up being tough and belligerent which is not what a mother ought to be, she should be soft and tender. [Rabbi Levinstein] is right that women are harmed by their army service and this is all the more so in combat units. People accuse Rabbi Levinstein of being against the army but that is ridiculous. A person who has devoted his entire life to the IDF and continues to do so to this day? It is cheap demagoguery to say such things. He loves the IDF and is devoted to it and that is why he is warning against conscripting girls to the army and to combat units."