IDF Rabbi Defends Shabbat Op

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky deflected criticism for accompanying soldiers on a counter-terror operation in the Gaza Strip on Shabbat (the Sabbath).

"The military rabbi is an inseparable part of the combat unit," wrote Rabbi Ronsky in response to accusations that he'd desecrated Shabbat. "And just as the rabbi risks death in entering the battlefield together with the soldiers, it is a simple fact that if the unit leaves for an operation on a Saturday [the Jewish Sabbath]b, the rabbi must leave with it," he wrote.

"The military rabbi's main task is to fortify the soldiers. The fortification is necessary for battle, for it is known that the charging of an enemy at the risk of one's life is not a natural human impulse and certainly not for our young soldiers," he wrote.

"A rabbi who is involved in his unit and accompanies them throughout their training and operations can assist the soldiers in overcoming the spiritual distress and crises they experience," the rabbi wrote.

The operation took place on the Sabbath just before the start of the Passover holiday. The rabbis contended that it wasn't necessary for Rabbi Ronsky to accompany the troops since he doesn't actually fight with them.

"The criticism derives from a basic misunderstanding of the rabbi's position within his unit," Rabbi Ronsky told YNet news.

"The military rabbi is known to us from days of yore, when he was a priest," he said. "This rabbi, the priest, stood before the soldiers prior to their departure for battle and imbued them with the fighting spirit and later even went with them to war," he said.

Source: YNet news

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