Rabbi Levinstein
Rabbi LevinsteinLibah center

Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, one of the heads of the Eli pre-army academy, sent a letter to his students in which he wrote that he is taking a study vacation and effectively suspending himself from his role in the Eli pre-army academy, according to a report on Channel 2.

Levinstein wrote that he did not want them to contact him during the duration of his vacation. The vacation may be due to the demand by the Defense Ministry to terminate Rabbi Levinstein's educational activities in the Bnei David pre-army Torah institutions in Eli, threatening that the ministry woulc refuse to continue to accredit the hesder section of the yeshiva. The one-year mechina prep Torah study program is not subject to the Defense Ministry's decisions and makes up the large majority of the student body.

In a letter addressed to the Eli academy, the Defense Minister stated that he intends to remove Bnei David from the list of recognized hesder yeshivot [yeshivot which have a 5 year program in which they legally defer army service for two years for religious studies] unless Rabbi Yigal Levinstein's employment as a teacher and educator there is terminated.

During March, Rabbi Levinstein was also summoned to a hearing in the Defense Ministry over his comments against female consc‎ription to the IDF, but the summons was cancelled at the request of the Attorney General.

In the wake of the Defense Ministry's demand, the Yeshiva responded by stating that "as people who educate their students about the importance of freedom of speech, we will not cooperate with any attempt to harm the freedom of speech of rabbis, students and alumni of the Bnei David institutions. With regard to the hesder yeshiva, Rabbi Levinstein does not teach in the hesder yeshiva."

In the summons issued by the ministry, the Director-General of the ministry, General(Res.) Udi Adam wrote that "the acrimonious and continued recriminations by Rabbi Levinstein against women serving in the IDF and other sectors serving in the army cause great harm to the IDF and those serving in it as well as harming IDF values, the authority of the officers and the cohesiveness of the army."

"Rabbi Levinstein's inclusion among the staff of the yeshiva raises the concern that the students in the yeshiva who are also soldiers serving in the IDF are exposed to the above views which harm the goals of the studies in an institution which is supposed to educate to a full and significant service in the IDF and to respect for the IDF military commanders and those serving in it."

Adam added that Rabbi Levinstein's statements should not have been made to students in a hesder yeshiva or pre-army academy, both from the point of view of their content and their style of presentation. He referred to a conversation he had with Rabbi Levinstein after he had termed LGBT as "deviants" and complained that Rabbi Levinstein was continuing his controversial statements.

Rabbi Levinstein was talking to a group of students when he made the remarks about women's service in the army, a controversial subject in halakhic circles, and one of the listeners publicized his words.