The head of the hesder yeshiva in Mitzpeh Ramon, Rabbi Zvi Kostiner, was dismissed from the IDF reserve service following his recent remarks against the service of women in the IDF, Israel Hayom reported Monday.
Hesder is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the IDF, usually within a Religious Zionist framework.
In recent months, Rabbi Kostiner has expressed his objection to the service of women in the IDF, saying that “the attempt to recruit the women is part of a cultural war and an attempt to destroy the family,” and that “a Jewish army is an army without women.”
Last Thursday, the IDF apparently had had enough with this iconoclast and informed him that he was being dismissed from reserve duty.
Rabbi Kostiner has been very active in reserve service, as the rabbi of a course for military rabbis in the reserves. He has been serving in the reserves for 25 years, and has headed the course since its inception ten years ago. Every year he devotes a month and a half to reserve duty.
Rabbi Kostiner is a disciple of Rabbi Tzvi Tau (president of Yeshivat Har Hamor and the spiritual leader of Yeshivot Hakav (national-religious yeshivas) where his disciples see him as the successor of his master, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook.). He sanctions the State of Israel, and opposes the informal-style Bible studies and the Revadim (strata) method of study, which attributes parts of the Talmud to later sages.
Individuals in the rabbi’s circle are furious at his dismissal: “It is inconceivable that a rabbi would have to be afraid to express his Torah position because someone in authority might decide to remove him from office,” one of them told Israel Hayom. “There’s a growing feeling lately of an attempt to shut up rabbis’ mouths, in the IDF, too, and to intimidate them so they would tow the line of the liberal agenda.”
People in Rabbi Kostiner’s circle also attacked Habayit Hayehudi chairman, Naftali Bennett for tolerating the treatment of Zionist rabbis by the system: “When the list of dismissed and suspended rabbis is getting longer, to include the Chief Sephard Rabbi, Rabbi Yosef, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Levinstein, Rabbi Aviner and now Rabbi Kostiner—the same rabbis who send their students by the thousands to the army and strengthen the fighting spirit of the soldiers for many years, the Minister of Education should also wake up and begin to insist on the rabbis’ right to continue to express the Torah’s position – without having to fear dismissal and silencing of mouths, as befits a civilized Jewish state.”
The IDF spokesman issued a response, saying, “Rabbi Kostiner remaines in the reserve service in the military rabbinate, but it was decided that he would no longer serve as the rabbi of the [military rabbis’ reserves] course.”