Jan 25, 2012

Soldier refuses To Jump, For Religious Reasons

If you thought the issue in the army between religious male soldiers and female soldiers ended in parties and ceremonies where a female soldier would be singing, and how important is it that they cannot exempt him, for religious and ideological reasons, from a problematic situation, then we must think again.

According to this Haaretz report, a male religious soldier refused to jump because the parachuting instructor was female. Not knowing too many details, such as why the army didn't give him a male instructor, which according to the article is something any soldier can request, it is difficult to know what actually happened.

I find it strange that a community, the dati leumi community, that has waved the banner of being the bridge between the secular and the religious, the community that is proud to join and embrace the outside world and find solutions to deal with "problems" rather than avoid such situations, would be at the crux of this issue, and especially dealing with it in such a manner.

It clearly is not going to be limited to the issue of women singing. The solution to the issue will not be exempt religious soldiers from being at such ceremonies. This is going to affect the entire army, as more soldiers join the trend of backing out of even necessary activities, necessary by all counts, to avoid coming into contact, even without necessarily physical contact, with females.


  1. I have never parachuted myself, but it is very possible that there is physical contact with the instructor who might need to check straps and whatnot. I wonder whether the dati soldiers are becoming more particular about these things, whether they are starting to feel safety in numbers to stand up for their "rights", whether the apparent increase is because more women are serving alongside men, or whether they are just getting more reporting. I have a feeling it is a combination of all of them.

  2. Rafi (S)

    I saw a few days ago an article about parachuting with a picture of a female instructor with her arms around the soldiers neck apparently trying to adjust the parachute. So you may have a point in the beginning of your comment.

  3. All that is true, but wouldn't it be the same as a doctor or a dentist? Their job is to make sure that you are o.k. While L'chatchila you want someone of the same gender, but b'diavad, it should be o.k...jumping out of a plane with out a parachute exactly right should come under the rubrik of Pikuach Nefesh

  4. I wonder how this soldiers, and those like him would respond in a real war.

    What if the circumstances during war time puts them in a situation where they have a woman leader or team member or need to touch or be touched by a woman.

    Doesn't this attitude really put the whole army at risk?

    Even if you say that in wartime these soldiers would do what they must, the point of training is that you do it well, that you perform automatically without doubt or hesitation.

    Do you want Israel's safety and the lives of fellow soldiers in the hands of people who are untrained?

  5. I think there is a wide range of views in the dati community about this sort of thing, just as there was a wide range of views about whether or not to refuse orders during the dismantling of the Gaza settlements. What Rafi(S) and Anonymous say make sense. I don't think there are easy solutions, because people have their beliefs and their pasakim, but the army has to function, and I don't think anyone has an interest in bringing about a direct confrontation between the right of religious soldiers follow halacha in what I would describe as a machmir but legitimate fashion, on one hand, and the established policy of having women serve in all branches of the army. One can only hope the army will have sense enough to try to avoid these issues by assigning soldiers whose religious sensibilities do not permit contact with women to units in which this will not be an issue. But the army will probably also have to draw some kind of line between mainstream halacha and chumras without a sufficient basis to warrant forcing the army to make adjustments. I think an example of the latter would be soldiers refusing to hear lectures from women. What we also have to hope is that rabbis paskening on these issues will have the independence of mind to avoid looking over their shoulders to what the haredim will think if they should overwise be inclined to pasken leniently.

  6. Concerning what Baruch Gitlin wrote:

    A story I heard last nite @ shiur from the Rav who gave the shiur. He is a Sefaradi, and Sefaradim hold by Chalak for meat. He and a bunch of others were doing reserve duty (a number of years ago), and they were served the non-Chalak meat to eat. Being Sefaradim they didn't want to eat it, but they didn't know what to do. So he called up R. Mordechai Eliyahu and asked him what should they do. R. Mordechai Eliyahu said that they should eat it, as chumros can be done in your own home. In the army you are a 'public person' who needs to be able to function in the best capacity upon the behalf of the people. In other words, if Chumros get in the way of your functioning to the best of your ability, then better not to do the Chumros...

    Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe that's one of the reasons why Shvus was not in the Beis HaMikdash (among many other reasons)...just thinking off the cuff...

    The previous Anonymous...

  7. Look I was never in the army but if this was in the context of a large scale operation then it is possible that the male instructors were busy elsewhere.

    Israel's army is mixed, and sometimes the needs of the service to get everyone to where they need to go are going to take priority. This was not a ceremony but an operation exercise that was important to ensuring that we can do this in war if need be.

    Honestly I think the Sr Officers were right to tell him to go take a hike.

  8. Since it is yehareg ve'al ya'avor, he should have jumped out of the plane to be mekayem the mitzvah!

  9. Anonymous at 1:32, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Great illustration.

  10. As far as I know Chalak for sefardim isn't a chumra but a din. I am not sure if the story about Rav Mordechai Eliyahu is true.

    According to the army's rules a soldier who is makpid on chalak is entitled to receive it.

    Once again this story is being presented as religious soldiers becoming more extreme.
    My brother-in-law was in a hesder unit almost 20 years ago and a female sports instructor (Madasit) was sent to train the soldiers. The soldiers refused and after an argument a male instructor was sent instead. The difference is back then the media didn't make a fuss about these things.

    The comparison here to going to a female Dr or dentist can not be compared with the situation in the army. As anyone who has done army knows there is real hefkerut with the mixing of the genders in the army. In civilian life the vast majority of men receive jabs from female nurses. However the army is well aware of the "hefkerut" situation so when soldiers are enlisted on their fist day in Bakum and they receive their jabs (including one in tush) the army makes sure there are male medics for the guys and female for the girls. Sounds almost like RBS B, Huh?

  11. Shlomo A

    see Yabia Omer, vol. 5, Yoreh Deah siman 3 where rav ovadia paskens that it is permitted for a sefardi to eat meat at a simcha which is not chalaq. what we define as chalaq and what the gemara defined as chalaq are two different things.

  12. Thanks ben waxman for that. More info is this link.


  13. Would that mean that the more desensitized the soldiers are, the less likely they'll be distracted?

  14. No Miriam,

    it means the better trained the soldier the less likely they'll be distracted.

  15. so when soldiers are enlisted on their fist day in Bakum and they receive their jabs (including one in tush) the army makes sure there are male medics for the guys and female for the girls.

    When I got my shots at Bakum, at least one of them were administered by a female! (and it wasn't a big deal at all, everything is moving so fast at that point that it doesn't matter a bit)


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