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 prayerthey 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 http://womenforthewall.org/
See also a similar perspective to mine by Jonathan RosenblumThanks again for writing!