JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel appeared to compare women who wear immodest clothing to animals in a public sermon.
Rabbi Yizhak Yosef also counselled religious soldiers on how to protest required attendance at Israel Defense Forces ceremonies that feature women singers in the Saturday night speech first reported Sunday by the Hebrew-language haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Shabbat.
“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 honour. Dressing modestly is that honour,” Yosef said, according to Kikar Shabbat.
Yosef said that when he attended a state ceremony that included women singers he took off his glasses so as not to see the women and then buried his nose in a small book he carried with him to show to those around him, including the prime minister and the president, that he was not listening.
“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 said, “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.”
Religious men are not permitted to hear the singing voice of a woman. It is an issue that has dogged the IDF and its relationship with its religious soldiers, who have been required to attend ceremonies that feature women singers.