Saturday, May 18, 2013

Comment and Response regarding the Women of the Wall, and introducing Women For the Wall !!!!

Someone sent me a comment about my previous posting via email; I am publishing here, along with my response.  (The system would not allow such a long comment, nor the hyperlinks.))

Keep those comments coming!!!


You apparently believe that the chareidi women were committing a Kiddush Hashem by attempting to peacefully fill up the space and block the non chareidi women from davening. This was "great!" you effuse. Wow, how wonderful. Let's prevent Jewish women from praying.What a kiddush Hashem that must be.
But I simply don't understand why blocking these women from praying there was was also not a chillul Hashem. Maybe I am confused but I just don't understand the entire machloket. Women are allowed to don teffilin and talitot, right? So what in the world is the problem with having these Jews express their Judaism this way? Would that all Jews, men and women, were to feel this way and want to don talitot and tefillin! These women should be praised, not condemned, for wanting and trying to be more observant. What exactly is the objection? What am I missing here? What exactly is bothering our hareidi brothers in Torah and ahavat Yisrael this time?


Dear Farblunjet (love the name!)

You bring up a good point; namely that under the strict letter of the law women are technically allowed to wear tallitot and tefillin, according to many sources.

Nevertheless, the custom of virtually all of our mothers and grandmothers for many generations has been that they do not wear them. A fairly good Halachic summary of why this is so can be found here. Additionally, a fine discussion of a woman's struggle with this issue (that I found very moving) can be found here.

Moreover, without belaboring the background issue, here is the main issue in regard to the Western Wall. It is very clear to me, and I believe most observers, that the so called Women of the Wall are not primarily motivated by their religious zeal to fulfill the additional mitzva of tefillin. Rather, they are trying to score points both for feminism and the non-Orthodox movements by their loud presence. By coming to a place at which the overwhelming majority of worshipers – I would say easily over 90% – pray according to Orthodox tradition, which includes:
  • separate areas for men and women
  • women not wearing Talitot or tefillin
  • women not performing a public reading from a Torah as part of their prayer
they are engaged in a behavior that is designed to harass, incite, and disturb those who pray there regularly, not those who come just during the monthly prayer demonstration.

I am not making the argument, as some do, that the Kotel is an Orthodox synagogue. Although, as I wrote, the overwhelming majority of those who come there regularly are Orthodox, I agree that the Kotel is a national shrine and no one group has exclusive rights to it.

Nevertheless, the reality is that it is used primarily for Orthodox prayer, and has always been used that way for thousands of years. Furthermore, if what the women truly wanted was pluralism, and to live and let live, then they should have supported the Sharansky plan to have an equally comfortable and respected alternative place for them to pray as they wish, at a different location along the wall.

But no, that is not good enough. They insist on being literally in the face of the Orthodox women who pray there, and engage in what to those women is an offensive intrusion in the most sacred place on earth. This proves beyond a doubt that their motivation is not religious fervor, but rather political activism to undermine the prevailing Orthodox custom.

That is why the proposed demonstration by tens of thousands of the REAL Women of the Wall, not those who only show up to demonstrate but rather those who regularly come in their multitudes to pour out their hearts to G-d, was so encouraging. And that is why I was so upset that the evil fanatics spoiled a wonderful effort.

For more on what the demonstration was supposed to be about, see the website of the organizers, at the very aptly named

See also a similar perspective to mine by Jonathan Rosenblum

Thanks again for writing!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Women at the Wall and Dov Lipman: A short post, Erev Shavuos

I really have no time to write today, as I have to finish putting together material for all the various classes that I hope אי"ה to deliver during Shavuos.   (At least I have the easy job tonight; it is much easier to give a class at 3 AM then to stay awake listening to someone else...)

Nevertheless, I need to briefly comment on two items:

1) The Women of the Wall (WOW)

I first heard about the counter demonstration this past Friday Rosh Chodesh, when calling my mother שתחי' to wish her a good Shabbos.  "Did you hear about the great Kiddush Hashem at the Kotel this morning?," she asked me?  "The Rabbonim, really played this one right.  They asked tens of thousands of women and girls to come to Kotel at 6:30 AM, before the monthly 7:00 AM visit of the WOW, and to completely fill up the women's area with the people who are the ones who always daven there, not just the crocodile-tear "deeply spiritual" Anat Hoffmans, so that when the WOW come they will not be able to get anywhere close. They were instructed to not engage the WOW, not to speak with the press, just to come and daven.  It was really great!"

I was so very glad to hear this news!  Finally, something the Hareidi leadership did that I could really be proud of!

Of course, however, the inevitable happened.  The terrible reshaim who call themselves Chareidim but are in fact nothing more than idiotic evil hooligans, came and disrupted and spit, and threw chairs, and even according to some reports, rocks.  Instead of Kiddush Hashem, the world heard about, once again, a great Chillul Hashem done by "The Chareidim".

No matter that it was a small group who spoiled the Kiddush Hashem that was made by the thousands of women -- that is what the world will hear, as one can see in any number of news outlets that I do not have the time now to provide links for.


Their silence is deafening.   And unfortunately, most people will apply the Halachic principle of
שתיקה כהודאה - Silence (in a case where protest is appropriate) constitutes Agreement.

Thus it is hard not to agree with much that is being said about this incident, the article  Desecrating Judaism in the name of God being an excellent example.  At the Kotel I lost the love of my life is a particularly painful recounting of the results of the hooligans.   It makes me want to scream!!!!!!!!!

Once again, I reference what I have written written earlier, in which I argued the need for a new voice that will represent those of us who can no longer tolerate being associated with the statements, or non-statements, emanating from the Chareidi world.

Which brings me to

2) Dov Lipman

I listened to the interview that he recently had with Zev Brenner.   I see in him a very kindred spirit, and I am so glad that he is doing what he is doing.   While I am not sure if, in his shoes, I would have joined Yesh Atid, there is no question in my mind that he is trying to do what needs to be done and means well, and I am thrilled that he has the opportunity to be in such an influential place at this time.

Most of the dissatisfied Chareidi will not join Yesh Atid.   But we need to not see them as the enemy, but rather as a group that needs to be dealt with respectfully and with the view towards building bridges, not walls.  They are a large and growing movement, and it is not unlikely that Lapid will be Prime Minister before long.  The Chareidi world can either face this reality, or move deeper and deeper into irrelevance and poverty.

Not a pleasant thought.

Chag Sameach!!!!

PS Please see further commentary on this post in a separate post