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Sep 18, 2011

Rav Aviner and Rav Cherlo Discuss Soldiers Hearing Women Sing

In the saga about the religious soldiers leaving the IDF ceremonies when female soldiers sing, two opinions have recently been published that are worth looking at, whether you agree with them or not. These are opinions published by Rav Yuval Cherlo and Rav Shlomo Aviner.

Rav Cherlo writes a long piece about it, and I am only going to point out bits of it (read the entire responsa here). Basically, Rav Cherlo says soldiers should not leave when female soldiers sing. Listening to women sing is prohibited - there are leniencies that can be applied in situations, but in general it is prohibited. Halacha does not just deal with the individual, but with the entire tzibbur.

The army is a community of sorts, and it cannot make room for each soldier to decide things on his own or to each ask his own personal rav what to do. The army is a tzibbur, and that tzibbur has to have one rav directing it, and everyone within needs to follow. The army is not a religious body, it is made up of all types of people, and the psak is going to take that into account - while we must fight to improve the situation, in the meantime the psak is going to be the most basic, lenient psak to be inclusive of all the various types of people. And while in the communal arena we have to accept the fact, for now, that the psak must be lenient, in our private arena that obligates us to accept more upon ourselves, in the sense of learning more, being more makpid, etc.

Rav Aviner also paskened that soldiers should not leave such ceremonies. I think his psak is surprising considering how "extreme" he normally is on erva issues such as requiring separation of the genders from a very young age. Again, Rav Aviner also says that we must try to get the commanders to stop women from singing and avoid such situations, as it is harms many soldiers, while women singing in army ceremonies is no higher necessity.

However, while such things continue to happen, a soldier who finds himself in such a situation should ask of his officer to be relived from the ceremony, and in exchange he should ask to be given an assignment instead. if the officer should refuse, he should make a personal request, such as to be given the rest of the day off to go home and see his family and instead, again, offer to do an extra shift of guard duty or scraping the pots.

If that also does not work, he should then remain at the ceremony. At this point he has no choice. An example he gives is that his yeshiva.. Ateret Kohanim, is in the Old City of Jerusalem at a junction where many Christians pass by while singing their church songs that we are not allowed to listen to. It is not prohibited for me to go to yeshiva because I might hear their singing  - rather I don't listen to them. I hear, but I do not listen.

Rav Aviner goes on and says we do not have time to fight with each other. the army has too much to do, protecting the southern border, the issue with the Palestinians, etc. That the upper echelons of the army need to deal right now with omen singing is a disturbance of them and takes away from more important things. Are we little children that we really need them to get involved in this?

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