‘Ignore female singers!’ Chief rabbi tells Israeli soldiers to bury their faces in Torah
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef gave the guidance while delivering a sermon on Saturday night, according to Hebrew website Kikar HaShabbat.
Yosef, like many Orthodox Jewish men, believes that listening to the voice of a woman singing is a violation of religious law. In fact, the mandatory attendance of Orthodox soldiers at ceremonies where women perform has been a source of controversy in recent years.
“I was at an event where a woman was singing, and what did I do? I took a little book in my hand and removed my glasses. I put the book in front of my face, conspicuously, so others around me, the prime minister and the president, could all see that I wasn’t listening, that my head was in a book held close to my eyes,” Yosef said.
He went on to explain that Orthodox male soldiers should do the same, if they’re ever given the “strange order” of hearing a female singer.
“That’s what the soldiers should do. If the soldiers are somewhere that they are ordered to hear a woman’s voice — and what kind of strange order is that anyway?” he asked.
Yosef then proceeded to state that soldiers should behave in the same way he previously described.
“Take off their glasses, put a book in front of their eyes, and show conspicuously that we’re not listening, that our mind is on Torah,” he said.
The issue of females performing at military ceremonies has long been a hot topic among the Orthodox community.
In 2012, a chief rabbi of the air force resigned over the issue. One year prior, Orthodox cadets were thrown out of officer candidate school after walking out of a seminar when female candidates entered the stage to sing. The men said they would continue to fight against any orders requiring them to attend such events.
According to Yosef, the problem could be easily fixed, because he doesn't believe women should be enrolled in the armed forces in the first place. In December, he said it was “not the way of the Torah” for woman to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or sign up for civilian national service.
Yosef also addressed women who dress immodestly on Saturday, seemingly comparing them to animals.
“If secular people knew how much we respected women, and all that we do to preserve women's dignity: a woman is not an animal, you have to respect her honor. Dressing modestly is that honor,” he said.
The rabbi's Saturday statements aren't the first remarks to raise eyebrows. Last year, Yosef said that non-Jews should not be allowed to live in Israel, and that Israelis should not be afraid to kill terrorists armed with knives.