Dep. Min. Ben Dahan
Dep. Min. Ben Dahan Yoni Kempinski

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan had some advice for Finance Minister Yair Lapid Monday. “I suggest that Mr. Lapid concentrate on his work in the Finance Ministry and stay away from making populistic speeches about the Chief Rabbis.

As an IDF reserve officer, I believe that all citizens must serve the country, either in National Service or in the army,” he said.

Ben Dahan was responding to comments by Lapid, who n Friday condemned on his Facebook page Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef for campaigning against IDF service for girls. The official position of the Rabbinate since the establishment of the state is that girls who wish to serve the state should undertake National Service, and not enlist in the IDF.

Lapid, taking exception, huffed at the Rabbis, saying that they were guilty of “arrogance, and have created a national scandal. We will act in the Knesset to have them fired, and attack them through the legal system if necessary.” As “state employees,” said Lapid, the Rabbis had no right to encourage girls not to serve in the army.

Ben Dahan is convinced that Lapid made the comments out of ignorance. “Here is an update for him: The prohibition for girls to serve in the IDF was established by Chief Rabbi Yaakov Herzog when the state was established in 1948. Since then all Chief Rabbis have made the same ruling.” Israelis are free to accept what the Rabbis say or reject it, but Lapid is not empowered to “fire” them, certainly not for a ruling of Jewish law.

Earlier, Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett said Monday that Lapid's comments were unacceptable. While he did not necessarily with the Rabbis that girls should under no circumstances do IDF service, the way Lapid attacked the them for saying so could not be allowed to pass without criticism.

“I believe that all girls should do either IDF service or National Service,” said Bennett. “With that, the attack on the Rabbis for their traditional position is an unacceptable attack on the respect due them,” he said.

Bennett said that the Rabbis had a right to say what they did. “Those who want to can listen to them, and those who do not want to don't. But threatening to fire them is unacceptable. I, as Religious Affairs Minister, intend to deal with this issue. I will not allow Israel's political to include 'executions' for those who speak their minds,” he said.