Tuesday, August 6, 2019

"Ad Mo'sai?" - Giyus Banos: Weekly Report from the Front (Parshas Dvarim v.1)


"Ad Mo'sai?" - Giyus Banos: Weekly Report from the Front (Parshas Dvarim v.1) 5779

5 Aug., '19 / 4 Av, 5779 v.1

by Binyomin Feinberg,  Jewish Press contributor*

 * The views and opinions herein do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of The Jewish Press.


It was just recently discovered that there is another religious girl languishing in military prison #4, Shavit bas Margolit - for over two months!  She too has been subjected to incarceration just because she insists on maintaining her fidelity to the Torah, and her purity, by refusing to enlist in the IDF, a stance fully in line with the clear position of all leading Torah authorities across the spectrum, prohibiting girls from serving in the military. B"H, activists had found out about her recently, and finally were able to establish contact with her. 

She has sat five times, each time refusing IDF demands to either enlist be arrested and incarcerated like a criminal. Thank G-d, ultimately, she did get her religious exemption. Inasmuch as she has been following all IDF orders, in terms of showing up to be arrested, why is she still languishing in military prison? She didn't flee, or disobey orders, other than by not enlisting. Now that even the IDF officially acknowledges her religiosity, for what precisely is she being punished - for another two grueling weeks - just for being religious? Apparently so.

Mayan Chana Bas Ilanit:

Please note this very important CORRECTION: 

Miss Mayan (Chana) Cohen - incarcerated for approximately three months(!) in Israeli military prison - NEVER enlisted in IDF.  To the contrary - she has been imprisoned  shocking SIX times to avoid enlisting. Her exemplary mesiras nefesh is in line with the statements of many leading Torah Sages, who declare that for a girl to enlist in the IDF is a prohibition that is "yai'horaig ve'al ya'avor," a sin which we are obligated to give up our lives to avoid, if need be.

Especially for a girl, this is an immense amount of time.  Another petition of hers for an IDF exemption was just denied. What precisely are they trying to do? Break her, terrorize other girls, or both?

The apparent source of the error in the printing of the Jewish Press article was confusion with yet another religious girl - who was also recently incarcerated, Ravit. (She was released from military imprisonment just last Friday.) Ravit had been duped into enlisting (as was Leah T.), and subsequently fled the IDF (about eight months ago), to avoid immoral influences, exposure to which traumatized her as well. She subsequently married, and was recently arrested. Instead of alleviating her suffering in the IDF, the government compounded it - by persecuting her with over a month of military prison, including time in solitary confinement. We wish her all the best as she tries to steer her life back to a semblance of normalcy, after a series of traumatic events, unfortunately not unique to her case.


Good News: 

B"H Mrs. Leah Turjiman, a giyores, terribly treated, was finally released before this past Shabbos, on Aug. 1, after being sentenced for fleeing mistreatment in the IDF (in the wake of being pressured and fooled into enlisting).

For Giyus Banos news for parshas Pinchos, please see 


Last week, the esteemed Ricklin family had another shock, after all they have been enduring since the arrest and persecution of the two oldest daughters in June. On Tuesday July 30th, Rabbi Avrohom Y. Ricklin, the severely ill father of Orah C. and Moriah L. Ricklin Shlit"a was arrested (apparently illegally). Ostensibly he and his wife (she was released shortly thereafter) were arrested over the homeschooling of their ten year old daughter.  Being so seriously ill that he is unable to even stand up unaided, Rabbi Ricklin's incarceration constituted a real and present danger to his life, sakonas nefashos. As such, activists tried around the clock secure his immediate release, but weren't successful until his release yesterday, after his Wednesday hearing.

Clearly, this was an attempt to harm his health, and even endanger his life. This travesty is evidently yet another stage in the government efforts to persecute his two older daughters, for their resolute stand against drafting girls. The latter were illegally arrested and terribly mistreated in both civilian and military incarceration, and also  denied their basic religious needs of kosher food and modest clothing, all for the refusal to violate the prohibition of enlisting in the military. Who knows what the government will do to them next.  This is an example of a government out of control of its citizenry.

For other recent coverage regarding the arrest of girls refusing to be drafted into military service, see:

Parshas Pinchos: (shared in CJV weekly email)

Parshas Balak: (shared in CJV weekly email)

The Silent Plague:

It bears repeating that there are many hundreds of Israeli girls whom are being denied their religious exemptions, often for no good reason - even by standards of Israeli law.  The caseload tallies of the multiple organizations dealing with the IDF drafting of girls (including national religious ones, such as Chotam, as well as Chareidi ones, such as Chomosaich) are downright frightening. What's even more shocking is how many are actually enlisting in military service, under threat of arrest and incarceration.

Torah Law:

According to Jewish Law, Giyus Banos is "yai'horaig ve'al ya'avor." That means that one must give up one's life rather than submit to the drafting of girls and women. This obligation isn't limited to the girls themselves. The Brisker Rov ZT"L generally avoided demonstrations because of the physical dangers they pose (as a plethora of recent videos demonstrate). Nevertheless, he did demonstrate against Giyus Banos, because it is "yai'horaig ve'al ya'avor."  (We leave further extrapolation to others.) 

The "Rayon Das:"

In many cases, the reason (or pretext of choice) for evading providing girls their religious exemptions is that they failed the "Rayon Das," the "Test of Religiosity." (No, it's not a Saudi import.) This is an Israeli military policy of testing girls - IF the IDF deems their religiosity to be in question. The tests are administered by IDF officials, many of whom share distaste - and often unmitigated contempt - for the religion that they're testing for.

The Hidden Dangers of the Rayon Das:

According to leading Rabbis, girls should avoid submitting to a Rayon Das ("R.D."). In fact, the very rationale commonly offered for submitting to a R.D. is itself the most compelling argument against it.  Many girls are allegedly "not strong enough" to stand up the the government's demands that they appear for a R.D. In reality, for that very reason they should be encouraged to avoid a R.D., because if a girl feels insufficient in withstanding the pressure now - from the relative security of her home and regular routine - how much more likely is she to buckle under the carefully designed psychological subterfuges employed by the IDF professionals, seasoned officers bent on fighting for every religious girl they decide upon. Multiple independent accounts of girls who have submitted to R.D. reveal a terrifying picture. The girls must enter the intimidating Draft Office alone, isolated from even close family. Pouncing on any mistake or shortfall in personal conduct, IDF officers will often berate girls, accuse them of lying, and make them feel like hypocrites for infractions of Halacha, and for succumbing to natural human  frailties endemic to the pervasive immorality officially fostered by the government.

Ba'alos Teshuva Under Fire:

The treatment of Ba'alos Teshuva is of pronounced concern. Some Baalos Teshuva are not yet familiar enough with Jewish Law to answer all the Torah questions properly. However, the reason they're not familiar is clearly because most of the state-run non-religious schools have tragically produced generations of Jews ignorance of all things Jewish.

Secondly, many baalos teshuva, like many converts (e.g. Leah bas Soroh, now suffering incarceration for fleeing kefiyah anti-Datit in the IDF), lack a full family support system. That renders them easy targets for abuse by IDF officials. In such cases, it's incumbent on Bais Din (and the tzibbur) to take up their cause.

Thirdly, some baalos teshuva have  been brought up as religious, but had a spiritual decline.  Often, the IDF will expend resources to scour social media venues for photos that don't comply with traditional standards of modesty, to "prove" that she's still not fully religious. (It appears that they consider religiosity on par with homosexuality; just like "everyone knows" that one can only become homosexual - but not become the reverse (sic) (the existence of many thousands of ex-gays notwithstanding) - similarly, apparently, one can easily become non-religious, but repentance from periods of spiritual decline is deemed artificial...)


Even more harrowing is that sometimes the IDF actually employs what cannot be described as anything other than genuine blackmail. Please realize that this information is taken from specific real-life accounts, but identifying information is by nature inappropriate here.

The officers will confront the ba'alas teshuva with past photos that, if publicized, would put her to great, unrelenting public shame, given her current religious status. The threat need not even be articulated. Implicit is the ultimatum: "You will either enlist in the military, or contend with inappropriate photos being publicized, to shame you into submission. Why even bother resisting, if you won't be able to withstand the tremendous public shame throughout the broader religious community? And how will you ever get a shidduch with all that lashon-horah circulating?" Worse, some (superficially) Chareidi politicians and askonim will sometimes even collaborate with their secularist  allies/ patrons in government in besmirching such girls over past shortfalls, R"L. 

The almost impossible dilemmas of these girls are a grave kitrug. We dare not tolerate such evil. Such girls need to know that seriously Torah-observant Jews recognize the principle of Teshuva as foundational, and that turning around from a spiritual decline is something to be proud of. Moreover, sacrificing one's reputation like this deserves the highest honor, and undoubtedly will serve as a kapparah in this world for past shortcomings. And of course, if we take Hilchos Lashon Horah seriously, where it applies most, we wouldn't believe the government propaganda besmirching such girls, especially since technology allows photos to be forged easily.

Remaining Resolute Pays:

On the other hand, those girls who  do stand strong, limiting their interaction with the government to sending in their religious certification by registered mail, ultimately prevail, as the Vilna Gaon is quoted: "Ak'shon Yatzli'ach" ("the persistent prevail"). And standing strong is what the Torah demands of us. Therefore, whether we believe in ourselves is irrelevant; what counts is that HaShem gives us the power to do His Will. 

Moreover, girls struggling with their decision need to realize the broader picture. The IDF is not a safe place to be, especially for a woman. Recently, two Chareidi soldiers were killed by terrorists. If they would have remained resolute, they would have suffered in jail, but probably would be alive. 

For women in the IDF, immoral harassment is perhaps unavoidable.  Illicit conduct is rampant. And, in any serious armed conflict, women would likely be, tragically, targeted. Future armed conflicts would extend in scope and intensity beyond (perhaps ominously far beyond) what Israelis have become accustomed to. And that could easily introduce unprecedented threats, including the kidnapping of female soldiers.  Females are more of a target for several reasons, one of which is that enemies can inflict far more psychological harm by capturing female soldiers.  The entire assumption that females can be introduced into combat units is predicated on a certain arrogance that assumes they're going to remain protected, or, alternatively, on a extreme callousness that disregards the dangers inherent in sending women into combat.

Despite the imperative for women to shun military service, by no means we should abandon those weaker souls who fail to withstand this often exceedingly difficult test. Most of them are simply acting out of great duress, even if wrongly. We should continue to daven for them, and help them from falling prey to the pervasive immoral influences of the IDF, to the extent possible. And any prospects of rescuing them from the military should be pursued, especially if G-d forbid they're abused (a common occurrence in the IDF), when the prospects of breaking free rise significantly.

Penina bas Sima and Ravit bas Yael, although out of military prison, still lack their exemptions. What was done to both was absolutely inexcusable. The IDF should be on defense in these cases. Perhaps that's precisely why they've been so set on going after these girls - to keep them on defense.


  1. >Recently, two Chareidi soldiers were killed by terrorists. If they would have remained resolute, they would have suffered in jail, but probably would be alive.

    Right, better than two non-Chareidi soldiers should have been killed. Much less of a tragedy.

    This is where the Chareidi community's inability to compromise one iota on anything has come back to hurt them. If they compromised and agreed to create a Chareidi branch of Sheirut Leumi where Chareidi girls work in Chareidi institutions and charities, thus sheltered from coming into contact with the impure rest of us, then much of this would have been avoided. But when that compromise was offered, they shouted "Yehareg v'al ya''avor". And when it came time for "Yehareg!" they shouted "We didn't actually expect that to happen!"

  2. Kalonymus AnonymusAugust 6, 2019 at 6:00 PM

    Some people claim it is yehareg v'lo yaavor, that doesn't mean it is. National religious girls don't go to the combat divisions, and they do sherut leumi, eg teaching children or helping underprivileged.
    The army is a military force, and it's a Torah command to kill the rodeif. As far as I've seen, women are not exempt from hilchot rodeif. It's not a mtzvah which is talui b'zman. So how is this mtzvah an aveira as well? Brisker rav didn't even handle shekels. So maybe all hareidim should jump into the sea rather than handle shekels.

  3. Kalonymus AnonymusAugust 6, 2019 at 10:03 PM

    As I've said before, yehareg is only when you are given 2 options: worship the idol, or be killed. You can't make up your own yehareg situation, eg I don't like seeing immodest women in the street, so I'll jump under a bus - Chas shalom.
    There is no issur doraita in women defending themselves or their community. Ergo, there is no yehareg.

  4. Rav Amram Bloi issued his own paper currency


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.