IDF soldiers
IDF soldiersFlash 90

The Federation of Hesder Yeshivas is trying to hammer out an agreement with the IDF in the matter of religious soldiers who refuse to sit in the audience when a female singer is performing. According to the agreement, soldiers will be obliged to sit through programs at official ceremonies, even if they include women soloists, but not in shows designed for soldiers' entertainment.

The matter came to a head recently when four Officers' Course cadets were dismissed from the course after they disobeyed their commander, who insisted they stay to watch female singers, despite their protests that this negates their religious beliefs. They then walked out of the entertainment show in which a woman sang on stage.

The halakhic (Jewish legal) principle of modesty and the precautions prescribed by Judaism to preserve the purity of the relations between the sexes forbid men from hearing women other than their wives sing. Although there are interpretations of this law that allow for exceptions in the case of recorded music, several voices singing together, and voices heard over microphones, not everyone accepts the lenient interpretations. 

"We are trying to reach a compromise that will differentiate between official state ceremonies and entertainment evenings," confirmed Rav David Stav, spokesman for the Federation. "The event that the cadets walked out of was definitely not a formal ceremony," he said. 

Rav Stav said that he supports the attempts to get the High Court to reinstate the soldiers but does not pin much hope on their success. The Federation is "attempting to give legal assistance" to the cadets, he added.