Rav Eliyahu: Opt for Prison Over Hearing Kol Isha

4

rav-mordechai-eliyahuFormer Sephardi chief rabbi Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlit”a has called on religious IDF soldiers to choose imprisonment over hearing a woman singing during military events and ceremonies. Rav Eliyahu said that he was asked by soldiers what they should do when their commanders order them to stay at an event in which a woman was singing, as halacha forbids men from hearing a woman sing. “I told them – what should you do? The Gemara tells you… It is better you go to jail, disregard your commander and don’t hear the voice of

a woman singing,” Rav Eliyahu said in a recorded broadcast Monday night of a shiur he gave, later reported by Ma’ariv.

The IDF’s Chief of Staff’s Office recently issued a prohibition on frum soldiers walking out of military assemblies to avoid hearing women singing. Chief education officer Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister said that incidents of religious soldiers walking out of ceremonies to avoid the religious transgression were a “worrisome phenomenon,” as they were liable to weaken group cohesion.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/JPost}

4 COMMENTS

  1. Soldiers and a Woman’s Voice
    By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

    Recently, the Jerusalem Post quoted a ruling of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to religious IDF soldiers regarding remaining at events of Kol Isha – where a woman is singing. He ruled that they should choose imprisonment over hearing a woman singing during military events and ceremonies.
    Rav Eliyahu shlita was quoted as saying in a Monday evening broadcast, “I told them – what should you do? The Talmud tells you… It is better you go to jail, disregard your commander and don’t hear the voice of a woman singing.”
    IDF’s Chief of Staff’s Office recently issued a prohibition on observant soldiers walking out of military assemblies to avoid hearing women singing. Chief education officer Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister said that incidents of religious soldiers walking out of ceremonies to avoid the religious transgression were a “worrisome phenomenon,” as they were liable to weaken group cohesion.
    The question is whether Rav Mordechai Eliyahu’s ruling here is the only choice for religious IDF soldiers. For those soldiers who want to rigorously observe halacha and at the same time realize that discipline, order and group cohesion are necessary components for an army to function, are there any alternatives for them?
    The Maharam Shick responsa Even HoEzer #53 rules that Kol B’Isha Erva is only prohibited when a person either a] knows the singer or b] sees her face. The Bais She’arim OC #33 rules in this manner as well. Although there are other Poskim who are stringent it is clear that normative halacha has ruled that this is the law m’ikar Hadin, in its essence. While there are times that one should be stringent in halacha, there are also times when one should be lenient.
    In this situation the preferable response would be for religious soldiers to avoid looking at the face of any female singer. What would be the halacha for those soldiers that already know what the female singer looks like?
    Under such circumstances it would be preferable to rely on the minority opinion of the Sridei Aish that says the Talmudic notion of “two voices cannot be heard simultaneously” applies to a woman singing and to sing softly to oneself during this time. Although generally speaking this is not how normative Torah thought rules, many Poskim have ruled that under extreme situations one may rely upon this view. Especially, when there are other minority views here that can be combined for a lenient ruling {see Bais Shmuel 23 e.g.}.
    Another issue is that this may be considered “Onais DeRachmana Patrei” a situation that cannot be helped – one is exempt. Since, essentially the soldiers are not doing any action, there may be a “karka olam” exemption here [See Kesuvos 2b], where they are not pro-actively involved in a prohibition.
    Why did Rav Eliyahu rule so stringently? Perhaps he felt that it was necessary to make this statement so that in the future the IDF would be more sensitive to Jewish law and the needs of religious soldiers. Should soldiers go to jail to follow Rabbi Eliyahu’s ruling? With due respect to HaRav Eliyahu, it would seem that the other alternatives are preferable. This is true especially if we consider other Mitzvos that could be kept if one remains outside of jail.
    Rabbi Hoffman may be reach by email at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

  2. The Satmar Rov Zt”l writes the the Meina stands on 3 things 1)Avoda Zara 2)Giluy Aroyos & 3)Sh’fichas Domim. So this is nothing new.

  3. If the army finds the issue of “religious soldiers walking out of ceremonies to avoid the religious transgression” a “worrisome phenomenon as they were liable to weaken group cohesion” then the obvious solution is to not invite female singers/entertainers that will make religious soldiers want to walk out. Even if they stay and squirm with their stomachs turning the entire time, how exactly does that promote group cohesion? Rather than the Rabbi Hoffman’s long explanation of why they should accept this infringement upon their religious sensitivities, maybe someone should sensitize the army folks in charge of entertainment programming to promote group cohesion by enable the entire unit to have a shared, enjoyable experience.

  4. But I thought the religious don’t join the army. If their walking out would cause such a great pirud, could it be they make up a larger group than the government would like us to believe?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here