Psalm Platoon

During the 1950’s, the burning issue in the struggle between the Torah camp and its opponents in Israel was the matter of compulsory military service for women.

Several proponents of a draft for women came to visit R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank (Rav of Jerusalem) to discuss the matter.  “Where,” they asked, “does the Torah forbid women to be noncombatants in the military?”

Aware that the committee had come to him with answers rather than questions, the wise old sage replied, “The Torah teaches that before the Jewish army would go to war, the officers would announce that those who were fearful and fainthearted should not join the battle (Deuteronomy 20:8).  According to R’ Yose HaGalili, this refers to all those who were fearful and fainthearted as a result of their sins and felt that they might not deserve God’s protection during battle.  It emerges that the Jewish army contained only people who were entirely without sin.  Nevertheless, the Torah testifies that even these people will sin with “the beautiful captive” unless the Torah allows them to marry her.  This tells us that even the most spiritually refined people are susceptible to the immorality of an army camp.  We will not expose our daughters to these pernicious influences!  Even if you intend to conscript our daughters to do nothing else in the military but recite Psalms, we will still object!”

Excerpt from: The Torah Treasury pg. 507


Posted in: Role of Women in Judaism