By HaRav Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
“Take off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters. And they took off the golden rings that were in their ears.” [Shemot 32:2-3].
“‘In the ears of your wives’ – Aharon thought: the women and the children will refuse to give up their jewelry, perhaps this will delay matters and Moshe will come. But they (that is, the men) did not wait, and they took off their own jewelry.” [Rashi].
“Women do not perform work (on Rosh Chodesh)... in memory of the fact that they did not participate in the sin” [TUR Orach Chaim 417, based on Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 44].
The “Levinstein” Festival
As I write these lines, the drama surrounding Rabbi Yigal Levinstein is still at its peak. Perhaps by the time this article is published the press, the women’s organizations, and liberal public figures will have found some other easy prey. Before I give my opinion about what the rabbi said (below), I want to address the focus of the drama, consisting of a general onslaught of threats against the speaker, with such statements as: “Right now, stop all budgets given to his institution... Do not let him teach... Stop all visits of governmental and military figures in his institution...”
Just in case some of my readers are not familiar with the case, here is a brief background sketch: Rabbi Yigal Levinstein, an important rabbi in the Eli army prep school (a magnificent institution that has received great acclaim from military and government sources) had the gall to make a strong declaration against the concept of women serving in combat units. He spoke in a “closed” forum (as if such a concept still exists in this era of secret recordings and immediate leaks) consisting of students of a companion prep school, all of them about to be conscripted and eager to serve. The style of speech was very offensive towards women (something like: “they will be so ‘cool’ that nobody will want to marry them”). The press immediately pulled from the archives the rabbi’s harsh statements from a few months ago against the homosexual community.
I do not identify with the extremely grating style that I hear, especially when it comes from the mouth of a rabbinical educator within the halls of Torah study. But what can we do? It turns out that this is the usual style of the man: irritating, using common language and especially army idioms, reminiscent of standup comedy as was popularized by the “Gashash He’chiver” entertainment troupe. I surmise that this inferior style of speech was acquired during service in the IDF and not in the Beit Midrash. (As an aside, I am not sure if the previous sentence is a plus for the prosecution or for the defense, or perhaps for both of them at the same time!)
Be that as it may, the press and the women’s organizations were given a juicy fruit as a gift, and the festival began without delay. One of the highlights were some juicy descriptions about an internal competition on Channel 2 to decide which religious reporter would be assigned to interview the rabbi – would it be the man Yair Cherki or the woman Sivan Rahav-Meir? The press revealed “behind-the-scenes tales” as a sub-drama in this affair. (In the end, Sivan won the contest. Just think how we and Channel 2 were saved from the wrath of the women’s organizations if Yair had been chosen.)
“Terrorism” by the Women’s Organizations
Let us now turn to Rabbi Yigal’s position. I can go along with the professional opinion that assigning women to combat duty in the armored division will harm the fighting capabilities of the IDF, because of physiological differences between the sexes. Establishing joint combat brigades may well contribute to morale, but in a way that is inversely proportional to military morale, which requires decisive and forceful action. This has to do with tension between the sexes. The “terrorism of the women’s organizations” (I have used this term in “closed” sessions, which I assume have been recorded – but no matter, the budget of the Zomet Institute is quite tiny in any case) is willing to sacrifice the needs of security for the greater good of equality and empowerment of women, since these are the ultimate and most absolute values in their world! (I do not accept – in the absence of any proof – the claim that the political left is deeply involved in this issue, as a way of weakening the IDF, similar to the advice of Bilam.)
This feminist terrorism is in attack mode on all possible fronts: Torah conferences where women are not invited to speak; the lack of a woman candidate for General Manager of the religious courts; and soon the demand to allow women to serve as community or city rabbis – since after all there are Orthodox women who have received a title equivalent to “rabbi.” And let us not forget – Torah reading by righteous women at the Western Wall on Rosh Chodesh, since “the women did not sin with the Golden Calf,” as noted in the quotes at the beginning of this article.
However, have no fear! This bulletin that you are reading is protected from the threats of these aggressive women. Women continue to write regularly in the Hebrew and English editions of our pages, as they have done in the past.