Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef determined during his weekly Torah lesson on Saturday night that women must not serve in the IDF or in national service—and certainly not in combat roles.
The chief rabbi mentioned a ruling made by Sephardic Torah scholar the Rambam who said that “to wars commanded by the Torah all go out, even a bridegroom from his chamber and a bride from her canopy.” Yosef said that one must not draw from this ruling the conclusion that women are allowed to join the military.”It’s obvious that women who went there went to do the laundry, ” he explained. “They didn’t wear uniforms and pants and the likes, of course not. They went in modesty, in purity.”
“They (women) go to cook and do laundry, but, heavens forbid, to the army? To go and fight? Of course not!” Yosef added. “It is the ruling of all the great rabbis of the generations, including Israel’s chief rabbis, the position of the Chief Rabbinate—it has always been their position that girls must not enlist in the army… (Today) there are female pilots, all sorts of stuff. Is that the way of the Torah?! That’s not the way of the Torah.”
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According to the chief rabbi, in the Jewish armies of the past “all were righteous and pious, there was the army of God, a holy army, ” and that is why the Jewish army received “divine providence.””They would fight and fight and had no dead—only the enemy did, ” Yosef claimed. “There were miracles and wonders. Believe me, if we had followed the Torah on everything, we’d be spared all sorts of disasters that we unfortunately face.”
He then went on to stress that it wasn’t just military service for women that he opposed, “but also national service. Unfortunately, on this matter there is some weakness. There’s a distortion of perception on this matter. Yes, they (women) are forbidden of going both to the military and national service!”
Yosef spoke of Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, one of the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community in the early days of the State of Israel, who was known by his magnum opus Chazon Ish. Chazon Ish, Yosef said, fought against the enlistment of women to the military “and who knows if he did not die of the sorrow this war, this struggle, this holy war, had caused him.”
He noted his own father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, “died of the sorrow he felt over the drafting of yeshiva students, over the law passed by these villains—that Lapid and his friends—and the rabbi felt sorrow that they wanted to take the yeshiva guys like that. From all of this sorrow, who knows, just like Chazon Ish died from the enlistment of women, the rabbi took it to heart, who knows—maybe that’s why he died.”
Dozens of rabbis, including many in the national-religious sector, have recently signed a petition against Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), criticizing his ministry’s plans to allocate funds to organizations that encourage the enlistment of religious girls in the IDF.
The petition signatories claimed that because the Chief Rabbinate forbids the enlistment of religious girls, the state must encourage them to serve only in national service.