Israel – Complains Against Rabbis For Giving Soldiers Religious Motivational Speeches During Gaza War

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    FILE - Israeli soldiers praying. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.Israel – Complaints surfaced on Wednesday about rabbis who gave motivational speeches of a religious nature to soldiers at staging areas for the ground operation in Gaza.

    In once recording broadcast by Reshet Bet radio, a rabbi speaking to reservist soldiers spoke about what he described as the differences between the soldiers and their enemy.

    “We’re talking about beasts of men, I’m sorry for using such language, but that’s what we’re talking about,” the rabbi said. “They are prepared to be killed in order to kill a baby. They are not worth anything. They are full of hate. The difference between us and them is that we are full of love and they are full of hate.”

    In another recording, a rabbi addressing reservists says that when the soldiers return home, “we will create a more caring, sensitive, more loving, we’re writing a new chapter in history, a new chapter in the Bible.”

    A reservist who had participated in the recent campaign spoke to Reshet Bet and said that although soldiers were not obligated to listen to the rabbis’ speeches they were nevertheless given in general communal areas.

    Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald, dean of the Modi’in Hesder Yeshiva and a colonel in the IDF Reserves, rejected the criticism however and noted that the Jewish Consciousness Department of the IDF rabbinate had invited the rabbis to the staging areas to speak with the soldiers.

    Shenvald himself went to speak with students of his yeshiva who were involved in the fighting during Operation Protective Edge and coordinated his visit through the IDF although he wasn’t one of the rabbis specifically invited by the military.

    Shenvald said that soldiers were not in any way required to listen to the speeches and that anyone who wanted to leave could do so.

    The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit also stated that soldiers were free to decide if they wished to attend the talks.

    “These complaints come from extremists in our society who just want to find a reason for an argument,” said Shenvald, and claimed that such objections came from “sectors of society who used to but now no longer dominate the officer corps.”

    Shenvald said that rabbis addressing soldiers spoke of matters pertaining to the war including mutual responsibility, the imperative not to be afraid, Jewish heritage, and the importance of Jewish unity.

    He also said that there was no discussion of Jewish law pertaining to war in speeches given to the soldiers.

    The rabbi also rejected any idea that the Jewish content of motivational address to soldiers could in any way be used to promote the idea of holy war.

    Shenvald said that Judaism was a peaceful religion and that Jewish liturgy was replete with prayers for peace so that it could not be corrupted to an ideology of war.

    “During recent weeks we saw the Jewish people at its best, and I pray we can preserve it. These unjust reports are especially upsetting because of the special atmosphere of unity that we have witnessed during these hard times.”

    Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post

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    23 COMMENTS

    1. So let me get this straight religious soldiers are required to stay while female soldiers perform like singing etc, but if a rabbi speaks, that’s a violation of rights. What gives?

    2. I’m no big fan of the Rabbinate in EY but this is a crock….if the words of support provided even a small amount of confidence and encouragement to the young chayalim ready to risk their lives, than it is 100 percent appropriate. Those who criticize these “motivational speeches” should simply shut up.

      • What does a handful of anti-religious people have to do with the attitudes of the Medina itself? Most secular Israeli’s have no problem with Rabbonim speaking to soldiers going to war. This happens each time. It is nothing new. The soldiers are given chizuk and brochos. Secular soldiers give positive reports about it as well.

        One of the very surprising things I learned after making Aliyah, is that most Israeli’s, secular or not, appreciate our religion. When secularists need to do something religious, they want it done right, in the authentic way. This is why the Reform and Conservative movements have so much trouble getting a foothold here. Israeli’s want no part of fake Judaism or Judaism light.

        It was widely reported that a secular soldier operating the iron dome got up and yelled their is a G-d, after the he saw a gust of wind come out of nowhere and blow a missile into the sea when it was about to land in a densely populated area. Secular soldiers asked to put on T’ffilin and Tzizis. Things here are far more complex as some people on these boards make them out to be.

    3. when you hate reason has no place same heare in the states ateist hate religion and religies peapel so thay act unreasonable leider do ouch acheini bnei yisroe the bigest haters facts of life

    4. This is not new. I was told at least 20 years ago by a lecturer in Zahal that the he was warned never to utter the 4 letter word “תשובה” (i.e., 4 letters if spelled choser without the v’ov). Apparently some soldiers did tshuva after such a lecture and their parents complained! In consequence, Zahal never invited that Rabbi back to speak and warned the others! This self hate gives Ishmael the impetus to whip up antisemitism with the claim that Ya’akov Avinu’s inheritance belongs to them.

    5. it is written that every word that comes out of the mouth of Elohim will not return in vain!!
      Very good that the man tries to convince men and women to return to peace and love! Even when the harvest is one brainwashed soldier, out of thousands, who returns to Elohim then the lecture is a blessing.

    6. Thank G-d, even the secular soldiers (kids of these big mouths) actually get it. Their “pintele Yid” wakes up when they know they need Hashem’s help. Even if it goes dormant afterwards, at least we know (and they know) that it’s there.

      My daughter is on one of the borders & was in the field at licht bentching time the first week of the ground assault. She couldn’t believe how many girls asked her if she had extra candles (which she always has, just in case).

      • I know of your daughter as I was told of her this past Shabbos while I was visiting a friend for Kiddush.

        You should have much nachos from her as I do from my son who is in the IDF Tank Corps.

        I saw his picture in the Yedioth Achronot Newspaper yesterday as he and a group of soldiers were singing and dancing as they were being released to go home for a short 24 Hr reprieve.

        He is due to return to his base Tomorrow Friday at 8:00.

        I much like you have not been sleeping well for the past month.

        I only hope that all the soldiers, our true Tzaddikim will be safe.

        God Bless you and your family. God Bless the IDF. God Bless the Jewish people.

        • That’s very funny! Are you my neighbor?!
          There’s actually quite a few chayalim from our neighborhood. Hashem should just watch over them & keep them all safe. They’re all in our prayers 24/7.
          And yes, they are a huge source of nachas.

          • I live a street or two over from you. Yes I’ve lived in the area my entire life.

            Were you to see me on the street you’d never guess I was once a Yeshiva Boy.

            My Kids wear the Frum Uniform, I look like a shicker goy.

            Go figure.

            Vshavu Banim l’gvulam.

            As I mentioned before, our Chyalim are my Tzaddikim.

            Lets hope for peaceful Shabbos and soon New Year.

    7. hodu laHaShem ki tov ki l’olam chasdoh. the IDF is like no other army in the world. the story is told that one of the courses at west point involves studying past wars. when a cadet asked why Israeli wars were not included in the study, his instructor said those wars are all miracles. really ,this is rohbim b’yad m’atim, etc. and many of the brass recognize that, which is why rabbonim are invited to give chizuk to the chayalim

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