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In Parshas Ki Seitzei (22:25-7), the Torah tells us that if a betrothed maiden is found sinning with another man in a field, she is exempt from the death penalty since she presumably cried out for help but no one heard her. In contrast, if she is found in the same situation in a city, she is liable since she could have cried out for help but clealry didn’t (see preceding pesukim).
What if, however, we currently live in a society where women are crying for help but no one is coming to their aid? Recently – as someone who has helped prosecute child molesters in Rockland County, NY and expose their enablers – I have been alarmed by the numerous documented reports of religious girls who are struggling to avoid being drafted into the IDF or who have succumbed to immense torment and finally enlisted.
Some subsequently deserted, braving incarceration rather than the rampant immorality that exists in the IDF – indeed, that exists in any army. For the fact of the matter is that military barracks have never been moral environments for women. That has been true throughout history, and is especially true today when society is debased beyond description. Yet Israel – unlike most countries in the world – requires that women enlist in the army.
Of course religious girls can ask for a petur (an exemption). But in recent years, Israel has shifted the burden of proof for obtaining this petur from the government to the prospective female enlistee. Now girls need to “prove” they are religious and must often do so before a kangaroo court of staunchly secular Jews who get to “pasken” who truly adheres to a religion they look down upon.
Furthermore, there have been numerous reports of Israeli military staff deceptively manipulating or circumventing rules designed to insure that religious girls qualify for their petur. An Israeli court actually recently fined the IDF for entrapping a 17-year-old religious girl, Moriah Moshe. The IDF called her early in the morning to notify her about a package that was being dropped off. When she opened the door in her morning attire to receive the package, an IDF spy took photos of her and used them as “proof” that she is not truly religious and therefore must serve in the army.
We should note parenthetically – and unequivocally – that our concern must extend to non-religious girls too, particularly since they are even more susceptible to various transgressions in the army than religious girls are. In fact, it is said that the Brisker Rav, zt”l, was even more opposed to the drafting of non-religious girls into the IDF than he was of religious girls.
Every Jew has a moral obligation to protest and lobby against the IDF’s tactics and policies in drafting women – whether these women are charedi or Mizrachi, Ashkenzai or Sephardi, religious or not. Refusal to do so is equivalent to enabling abuse and immorality. Just like it’s reprehensible for frum activists to cover up molestation, it’s also wrong to cover up Israel’s crimes against innocent young women (who often are economically disadvantaged or are baalei teshuvah and thus more vulnerable).
We must ensure that we are not recorded in Heaven amongst those who fail stand up for people who cannot defend themselves and cry out to us for help. Hashem hears their cries and will, chas v’shalom, exact an extremely heavy price if we abandon them.