Monday, October 27, 2008

A rabbi teaching torah – the utter chutputz of it!

Artuz Sheva carries a report of a MK criticizing the IDF Chief Rabbinate:
( MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said on Thursday that he would request an emergency meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to investigate the Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces, following an article in Thursday's Haaretz daily that claimed the Rabbinate is "brainwashing" soldiers religiously and politically. The former minister also wrote a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, asking him to order an immediate investigation into the Rabbinate's activities.

According to the Thursday article, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, has already ordered an investigation of donations that have allowed the Rabbinate to increase its activities in areas previously served only by the IDF's Education Corps. This includes the activities of the Jewish Awareness unit, which offers information on historic Israeli military battles and learning about the Land of Israel, as well as what the unit's brochure calls activities and programs "based on biblical sources, appropriate for all soldiers and commanders, also for those who do not come from a religious background".

Other publications include a booklet for "commanders from a Jewish viewpoint", and Jewish Awareness offers advice and help in writing and integrating programs and materials on Jewish awareness in military courses. The unit also offers seminars and conferences all over the country, including Shabbat retreats, which the Education Corps does not have the funds to match.

(…)In his letter to Barak, Pines-Paz wrote "The Rabbinate is overstepping its authority, which is solely to provide religious services, and is acting in an aggressive manner in order to cause Israel Defense Forces soldiers to become religiously observant. This activity undermines religious-secular relations in the IDF and leads the army into dealing with areas beyond its scope. It uses the IDF to advance religious and political ideas. The Rabbinate is bringing religion in through the back door, in a dangerous manner, and harming the IDF's ability to fulfill its mission."

The original Ha’aretz article can be found here but Pines-Paz oversteps his bounds and reason if he thinks the rabbinate in the IDF should not be teaching Torah and Jewish law.

Although, I do understand his concern as long as the government insists on giving orders which are in direct violation of Jewish religious laws. It sets up a situation whereby religious soldiers are forced to choose between serving G-d or the government. And from Pines-Paz’s point of view a secular soldier who remains ignorant of Jewish law is not only a desirable but pliable soldier for the directives of the state. Pity the Pines-Paz’s of Israel, since a good third of Israel is made up of religious Jews, who have the fastest growing demographic within the state.

But the IDF Chief Rabbi also came under fire today for going into Israeli prisons and teaching torah and Jewish law to ‘right-wing extremists’ who have been incarcerated by the state. All of which makes me wonder what role progressive lefties would find appropriate for a rabbinate to do?

h/tip Joe Settler

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