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May 27, 2008

movies in the army

NRG/Maariv reported that the commanders of the Nahal Haredi army unit have given orders, by direction of the Rabbonim, disallowing use of DVD players and mp4 players.

It seems that soldiers in the unit have been bring in these players with which to while away their free time.

the problem is that this unit is called "Nahal Haredi" for a reason. The unit is meant to be one that allows a Haredi person, who has decided it is time to leave Yeshiva and needs to fulfill his requirements to the army, to do so in an environment that is sensitive to his lifestyle. That means they have some shiurim, they have time for davening, they have no women on their base, they are provided glatt kosher food, and more.

Having movies all around the base can easily ne seen as being counter-productive to the idea of Nahal Haredi. if a Haredi yeshiva guy wants to join but sees that it might harm his lifestyle, he might decide against it. The Nahal Haredi wants to be as welcoming as possible, and that means creating a welcoming atmosphere for the intended crowd.

The Nahal Haredi accepts not just Haredi yeshiva students, but many from the national religious public as well. And from other groups, such as Carlebach types, Kahanist types, and more.

I don't know who was bringing in the DVDs and therefore I do not want to say it was this group or that group that was at fault. But it seems the problem might be that they accept guys from many different backgrounds, but they need to impose an atmosphere welcoming to one specific background.

Going to the army means following the army rules. You have to adapt yourself to the army lifestyle. When you join the army, you are no longer in yeshiva. The army is nice enough, accommodating enough (granted it is this way because it has its own objectives), to create a unit that is more in line with the needs of one community.

If you insist on joining that unit, follow the rules. If you want to watch DVDs, nobody in the army cares. Just do it in a different unit. This unit is meant to have an atmosphere for a different type of person.


  1. mp4?

    what's wrong with mp3 players? 1. only the listener knows what he's listening to, unlike a dvd that others can see. 2. what if they only listen to jewish music or shiurim?

  2. mp4. it is a player, like an mp3, but with video.

    the article said nothing about mp3 players. only dvd players and mp4.

  3. This is an odd ruling. The issues you mentioned aside (time for davening, separation of the sexes, glatt kosher food, etc.), the chareidi "party line" has always been that the army itself is not in line with the chareidi lifestyle. So the Nachal Hareidi unit has always been something which may not cross any halachik red lines, but is for sure over a hashkafic red line which most hareidim seem to respect. Watching videos seems to be part of that same gray area - i.e., halachikly OK, but something chareidim try to avoid as being beyond the hashkafic pale. Once someone has crossed the hashkafic red line and gone to the army, I don't see how they can object to videos as being against the hareidi lifestyle. Their whole army service is against the hareidi lifestyle.

  4. the whol eidea of this unit is to give the haredi boys a way to ease into the army. make the environment as compatible as possible. So some other boys from other communities want to join that unit because it is more religious, that is fine if the army is willing to take them in. But they should follow the rules set n order to engender the proper environment.

    if they ruin the environment, all of the sudden they will find that the haredi boys it is intended for are no longer joining. They will use this as an excuse to not join, and the leaders of those against will use this as an excuse to pressure boys not to go and to declare it not acceptable.

  5. I have served in reserve duty for 3 years now in one of the main Nachal Charedi bases, and have spent a few months with the soldiers. You should first of all know that there is a television room on the base. In addition, let me inform you that the large majority of the soldiers wear knit kippas, and most of them come from national religious homes. There is a percentage of those who were "kicked out" of the Charedi framework, some most tragically (disowned, etc), many of whom do not remain religious. There is, indeed, another group of very modern Orthodox "national religious" who like the idea of 2 years of army service and a third year of studies which the army subsidizes, instead of a full 3 years. I would venture to say that the dvds, etc, are brought in by members of both of the last 2 groups. In short, this is not a story of national religious guys "messing it up" for haredim. Perhaps the opposite.

  6. Shlomo, thanks for coming in and clarifying what it really is.
    I would like to ask, if it is not Haredi, than why do they have the rules? I thought all that was for the Haredim?

  7. well I was actually in the nahal hareidi. this tv room they speak of (at least, regarding the one at peles nahal -palchod-) is just a projector and screen used for showing edited and censored stuff approved for content by the officers. They cracked down hard on using the moadon for groups of guys watching movies (some guys would bring discs to show on the computer). As for the type of guys, there were plenty of chardal and hareidi guys when I was there and most didn't really care if you watched movies so much... you do it on a laptop with headphones and its fine. its just when you get a large group together and bray out loud like idiots that it gets objectionable. The fact is that the so called "tv room" is there doesn't prove anything. In point of fact, movies probably shouldn't be allowed in netzach but MP4s shouldn't be banned. In point of fact movies have been banned there for years already. I know mamesh hareidi guys there who used them for shiurim and hasidic music.

  8. I have a lot of Israeli music videos, which I've collected from youtube, stored as mp4 files on my hard drive, and on my blog. I cultivate a sort of paradoxical taste in Israeli pop music, so it is not unusual to find kitsch and serious Israeli avant garde or serious israeli rock side by side there. But what I want to say is this : the most disgusting stuff I have seen, by quite a wide margin, is Subliminal's hip hop videos, which combine female nudity or near nudity with yiddishisms and high pressure campaigns to remember the shoah. My own feelings of disgust may be beside the point, but I invite you to look at youtube's collection of videos by Subliminal and ask yourselves what exactly is going on with him.

  9. Shmuel and Rowan - thanks.

    I guess once they have to crack down on it, they also have to get rid of mp4s, even if just for consistency's sake.

  10. I am really interested in the political and sexual psychology of pop music. I suppose there's no point in trying to point anyone here at specific examples on my blog of embedded Israeli music videos that illustrate one point or another, much as I would like to.

    Pop music is a way of saying things one probably couldn't say using words alone, things that would be too embarrassing, or logically nonsensical, or both. If you have a general prohibition on watching music videos at all, ever (I'm not talking about army bases now, I am talking about the sort of blanket prohibitions that haredi rabbis hand down, just like prohibiting the use of cell phones with video screens) then the whole subject becomes taboo, which plays into the hands of the worst porn makers, actually, since there is no way of saying to the kids, "don't watch that. watch this."

    Do watch Kobi Aflalo's "Ba Min Hashtika" on my blog, though, if you are permitted to watch any music videos at all - it is a perfect miniature work of cinematic art, and very moving.

  11. I moved it to the front of my blog to make it easier to find. This is one of those cases where the way I prefer to transliterate hebrew varies from the normal way. I prefer to spell "shtiqa" with a "q".

  12. Somewhere else on my blog I manage to say that my recent problems with learning hebrew (I got thrown off a course as soon as the anglo-jewish establishment had decided I wasn't suitable conversion material) had left me feeling rather as one would expect a non-Jewish man who had been hoping to marry a particular Jewish woman, but had been thwarted by the rabbinical conversion system - except that in my case there is no such woman, just a sort of general ahavat israel. So maybe this is as good a place as any to ask whether you (Rafi) seeing as you say you have semicha, would be able to direct me somewhere they might understand me better. But perhaps if you have a reply you could use the email address on my blog, it isn't really a suitable topic for public discussion.

  13. not sure how matim it is to be directing people to watch video clips of nearly-nude women.
    Prolly not what Rafi had in mind for his blog....

  14. That last comment by "rw" is totally ambiguous and tendentious. If it refers to what I have posted in this thread, then it should be clear to any but the very stupid that my reason for mentioning Subliminal was explicitly that I think his work should be examined as a problem, not as entertainment. As for Kobu Aflalo, his video simply does not feature "nearly nude women."

  15. ha, now you have started me arguing with myself. Let's assume "rw" is a frummer, just to illustrate the problem that I see here. I used to read HaModia a lot, for some reason (the area I live in North London, I guess) and I am quite used to the tendency to over-statement that one finds in such quarters ; they regard any woman not dressed in a frum manner as "semi-naked." Over-statement is a venerable rabbinical tradition, and for a non-Jew it takes a few years to get used to it ; it's like being squirted with super-heated steam. It scalds.

    But when I say I feel 'ahavat israel,' I do not mean that I especially love frummers or the frum life-style ; in fact that is one of hurdles I have had to work past, because the conversion system for non-Jews is geared completely in that direction.

    Since I have been on the Internet I have been able to work past, or round, that barrier and find a whole society, with every sort of Jew (and Jewess) from the frum to the punk, and it's the totality that I love ; I understand the kulturkampf, to some extent, and I identify with all parts of the spectrum, more or less.

    I believe it's wrong to dress deliberately in a way that offends those one is among. I wouldn't expect either side to deliberately set out to offend the other. One should respect the feelings on both sides.

    Hadag Nachash have a sad and funny little satirical video about this, called "Shirat Hasticker":

  16. Many lubavitch guys go to nachal, many of the chevron guys go to nachal chareidi.

    Alot of knitted kippa chevronim would never watch a movie..even the shaved ones.. and there are plenty of bearded, long peyot chareidi knitted kipot in chevron.

    Looks are decieving, you can have a shaved, small knitted kipa guy thats frum as hell and burns flags on yom atzamut.. and the chareidi looking guy that says hallel on yom atzamut!

    While its true that some have gone off, its not due to the nachal society.. they were far on the path already.


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