Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Religious idiots disguised as rabbis have ruled again about women and men in the IDF

Read until the end for a surprise dénouement
Soldiers rehearse for an Independence Day ceremony. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Soldiers rehearse for an Independence Day ceremony. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Assorted rabbis continue to miss no opportunity and spare no effort to seem like total nutcases to the general population. On top of that, in their idolatrous worldview, they give no substantial guidance to the stringent religious public while ignoring all the other Jews and the rest of mankind. Especially in the area of sex, gender, and sexuality, they are completely in the dark and terrified, want everyone to know this, and try to emulate classical Christian doctrine as if Judaism doesn’t have its own robust outlook. If the Messiah would arrive now, which I pray for, s/he would defrock them all on the spot. Let me explain.

Assorted rabbis — not all rabbis. Many are wise, kind, and cautious men. But the loudmouth ones who feel they need to parade their egos, are a total embarrassment. The silent ones don’t speak out against them, from misplaced humility and from fear to be branded heretics.

Reportedly, several reservist rabbis from the IDF rabbinate have now published a halachic handbook for religious soldiers on how to serve in the IDF with women. It’s an amazing compilation of narrow-mindedness, unworldliness, and showing off their own holier-than-thou-ness.

These rabbinic authors seem to have much too little awareness that:

  • The First Commandment is not to embarrass G^d by making Jews, His People, look bad, in the eyes of the Gentiles or in the perception of Jews.
  • Their work should be to be a beacon of wisdom for all Jews (and Gentiles), not just for the religiously stringent.
  • Their work should be to be a beacon of wisdom for all Jews (and Gentiles), not just for the religiously stringent. The way it’s written now is as if they only care about “their own.”
  • It is more important and more urgent to serve humans and than G^d. The Latter knows how to take care of Oneself — thank you. Instead of being self-serving (look how much fear of Heaven I have), they should try to serve the public. Therefore, they should not imply that G^d advises us against things because He’s uptight or overdelicate but because He wants us to have a good life and sex that is not for cementing a steady committing relationship is always at best, short-lived fun with an enormous costly hangover. Formulated like that, maybe not-so-observant soldiers also can absorb such teachings for their own benefit.
  • The Sages teach that to permit is preferred over to forbid. G^d wants us to have, within kosher limits, a good life in this world and a good afterlife. Instead of ordering withdrawal and abstinence, they should have sought for ways to make potential unkosher situations permissible. Just like physicians and counselors can work with clients they are potentially sexually attracted to by leaving a door open to someone outside the consulting room. It’s so simple, primitive, and lazy to just say: forbidden. Portraying sexuality as dangerous and evil is also not the Jewish message.
  • Jews need to teach Christians from our ancient ways, not follow their most fundamentalist anxious hang-ups.
  • It is idol worship to think that G^d wants us to please Him (or to serve Him to be rewarded). He’s feeling great already — thank you for your concern. He wants and challenges us to be our best. His Guidelines are for our sake, not for G^d’s sake, for Heaven’s sake.
  • This might be new to some of them — they should listen to their wives (Genesis 21:12) — but women are much more than a sexual challenge for most men. They’re G^d’s highest (last) creatures. They are brilliant people who have so much wisdom that all men should be startled about them all the time. To only talk about them as sex objects is such a grave insult — also to most men (who are not so oversexed and who value women).

When I hear of rabbis who malfunction like this, I try to remind myself that I’m not so perfect either, so how would I be entitled to rabbis who are more Jewish and less assimilated? But I also remember that Judaism is not theirs. It’s defined in Jewish Scriptures (the Oral and the Written Law) and they can’t copyright and steal it away from others. Yet, I don’t see permission to stay silent when our holy Tradition is made fun of.

I also have something doubtful to discuss. When a violation of the Shabbat Laws must be done, it is preferable that religious soldiers volunteer for that. For safety, such ‘violations’ are not violations. And the pious who know the laws will ‘violate’ them with trepidation because they should prioritize preventing loss of lives over almost everything else, and not because they don’t care about Shabbat. And this is how it’s done.

So what about boys serving with girls close-by? Should not that too be done especially by religious soldiers? They know the gender modesty laws and their wisdom and necessity. But, on the other hand, religious soldiers might be less desensitized by immodesty than many less-pious soldiers. So, maybe this is an area not to volunteer for? I don’t know.

But I always have a funny feeling when a woman in the bus says to me: I respect you so I will not sit next to you. It’s well meant but I always think: Shouldn’t you rather sit next to me than next to someone who shows no commitment toward keeping proper distance?

And now the surprise. My oldest son is very religious and just finished five years serving in the IDF. In the end, he was a commander with only women below him. Not his preference but that is how it worked out. The IDF is very considerate of pious soldiers so he found little conflict. But he read the “new” booklet now and tells me: there is nothing new in it. It says what the rules were already. Where there were no rules printed yet, when you asked the rabbis, they answered what is written now. This does not describe how to behave but how the IDF is functioning already. Where it says that things are absolutely forbidden, in practice there are no very observant soldiers in such situations. The booklet is much about nothing.

But it sounds terrible and that is now exactly the first thing that the rabbis must learn to prevent.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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