Women of the Wall: Part II – Jews for Kant

Historian View of Judaism as Fossil

In the past, I wrote about why Torah observant Jews give no credence to groups like ‘Women of the Wall’.  This is an addendum to that post, as much new salient information and ways of debunking their motives have surfaced.

Though partially retracted later, after a debate with Dr. Yaakov Herzog, Arnold J. Toynbee, famous British historian, in the 1930s argued in his 12 volume A Study of History that:

“There remains the case where victims of religious discrimination represent an extinct society which only survives as a fossil. …. by far the most notable is one of the fossil remnants of the Syriac Society, the Jews.”

Mark Avrum Ehrlich, tells us similarly about Immanuel Kant, the famous 1700s German philosopher in Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, Volume 1 (2008):

More sympathetic enlighteners thought Jews could enter civilized society by wholly abandoning what had long become a fossil religion: thus, Immanuel Kant wrote: “The euthanasia of Judaism is the religion of pure morality.  Hence, once theological barriers had fallen, the complete surrender of Judaism might admit Jews to enlightened European society.

At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, the philosophy of “enlightening” others who are arcane, archaic, and fossilized to be more of the newer society has been one of the greatest challenges, physically and spiritually, to Jews over the last three hundred years.  It speaks of the feeling that you know that, based on your own intuition, your way is right and the others are wrong and must be “helped” for their own good.  A little modesty and tolerance is in order, but as hurtful as the words of Kant, and Toynbee are to anyone with a broader view of the world, it is typical of the far left who are little different from the far right, in my opinion.  The difference is the one on the right knows he’s a hater.

The far left “intellectual elite” which continues just the same today tend to profess that their own knowledge and understanding is paramount, but see through a myopic view a world – myopic in timeline (see results of Kant in Germany and results of Marx in Russia, as examples), and myopic in depth and meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

Jews Adopting the The Fossil View of Judaism

Unfortunately, the masses of Jews in Germany adopted the philosophy of the prevalent German philosophies of the time hook, line and sinker (emphasis on ‘sinker’).  This is the essence of the Reform movement – they say Judaism is a lie, and it’s time to move on.  In some cases, it’s preached to keep just the “ethical teachings” (well, some of them, sometimes) and in other cases, to give up even that little bit and find whatever is the “in” belief of the time – Christianity, Communism, or Atheism  depending on the century.  The Reform movement (of which the author was raised in), which brought us church organs in synagogues and declared Berlin to be their new Jerusalem, has this to say even today:

“one should not consider the Western Wall as possessing any sanctity” – Reform Movement, 1988 (Source: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2013/05/10/provocation-not-welcome/)

To this day, the holy city holds no special merit for the reform movement, except as the fossil of Toynbee:

Hoffman [executive director of an arm of the Reform movement said] . . . take down the partition that separates men and women and offer access to everyone for six hours each day as “an open national monument.”  (Source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-04-19/news/fl-women-wall-2-20130418_1_western-wall-israel-religious-action-center-men-and-women)

It gets worse – Kant’s euthanizing of anything spiritual about Judaism is taken up by Hoffman in full form:

. For six hours a day the Wall will be a national monument, open to others but not to Orthodox men.

She is, of course, proposing plain and simple discrimination against people based on their gender and religious beliefs.  Living in “enlightened” Germany, this mentality was acceptable, but this is a) totally unacceptable in today’s society, and b) not the case at the Western Wall today, where Reform are free to gather for prayers but are asked to have some sensitivity to the place that, for the rest of us, we believe, has a degree of sanctity.

Wait – Why Are Reform There Making a Stink, Anyway?

We should back up a second, while we are at it – why on earth, does she want to pray there, anyway?  According to the Reform movement, it has no sanctity, and no specialness.  Further, to quote one of the Women of the Wall members, Shulamit Magnus, Judaism is “archaic, arcane, and repulsive.”  Want to know something?  Toynbee and Kant agree with you, but you wouldn’t find him coming to a Jewish holy site to pray.  At least, as far as I know, they were consistent in their beliefs.

Anat Hoffman has said that she views traditional Jewish prayer as a “men-only” activity.  Well, on her last visit to the Kotel (which, by the way, is only once a month), with all the political nonsense and headlines in the secular newspapers, and after 25 years of her theatrics disguised as some new form of Judaism, she was able to muster up a few dozen to come with her.  There has to be this combination of emotional connection to what was important to your grandparents, but being a total non-believer to be in this camp.  This illogical middle falls away in the next generation or two and most Jews today either a) couldn’t care less, or b) are Torah observant (or at least, believing that if they’re going to do something Jewish, it should be in accordance with 3,300+ years of Jewish practice).

The Living, Breathing Nation of Jews

A new start-up, Women for the Wall (the Trademark Attorney in me shutters at the confusingly similar name) managed to muster about 10,000 people at 6:30am, mostly women, to counter the protestations (pun intended) of our Kantist brethren.  In a clear showing that if you’re going to make rules at a religious site, it should be in accordance with those who hold the religion and the place with sanctity, huge numbers of women showed that they are active participants in a living, breathing system that we’ve continued, without interruption, since Yitzchok [Isaac] was put on the altar by his father, Abraham next to the very spot where the women prayed.  Tolerance is needed for the living, breathing participants, and further, anyone who thinks Judaism is a “fossil” or “monument” is completely wrong.  More so, this video demonstrates to those who think Jewish woman aren’t part of traditional Jewish ritual . . . well, have a look:

Still, numbers do not matter so much as effort and importance ascribed.  A population of 600,000 Jews beat a population of 46 million of the countries attacking.  The Jews won, if also for other reasons, because the Jews wanted it more.  (The Zohar says there is nothing in this world, but desire.)  Torah observant Jews are a minority of Jews who are a minority of the world, and while at the Tel Aviv stock exchange, surely the secular Jew, on average, “wants it” more, at a religious site, it’s going to the be the religious who want it more.  Thousands of Torah observant Jews pray at the Kotel every single day, compared to the reform who are casual visitors of what is some sort of “monument” of which, at least when I was one, I little understood.

Putting it on context, courtesy of Women for the Wall, that little red circle, once a month, is what Women of the Wall looks like:



Why Aren’t Torah Observant Jews Accepting of Other Forms of Jewish Practice?

It is true that I ask for tolerance of Torah observant Judaism, especially at a Jewish holy site.  Why not the tolerance in return?  Paraphrasing Rabbi Sapirman who has excellent free CDs on a rational basis for believing in the authenticity of the Torah, if you come home one day and someone is in your house, eating your food, and claiming to be you, and won’t let you in your own home, what do you do?  After a sanity check to confirm that that you are really you, you aren’t going to be “tolerant” of him.  This is not someone you want in your home, claiming to be you.  He may be ignorant, he may be non-sensical, he may be any number of things, but you don’t go and tell him that yes, he really is you and he can have your home just because that is the “tolerant” thing to do.

Similarly, if someone tells you “Mohammed was a liar and the Koran is nothing but a forgery by a group of men” it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s not speaking in the name of Islam. Now if someone believes that Moses, or what was written about him, is a lie, do we say they speak in the name of Judaism?  No more so than Kant or Toynbee speak in the name of Judaism!  Sure, we can be tolerant in the way we speak with him, deal with him, do business with him, and even invite him into our home to come eat with us . . . but tolerant than he is us?  Tolerant that the man in our house claiming to be me, is really me, and I am not?  Surely not.

Addendum – Conversation with a Woman of the Wall Supporter

As an addendum, I asked someone who was there with Women of the Wall why she was there.  After we got through the “but I was hit in the head” emotional arguments, we got down to business.  (it is despicable that a dozen or so crazies on the right counteracted the crazies on the left with their own abonomizing of Judaism by pretending to be religious but acting quite to the contrary.).  Here’s the exchange:

Me: By the way, if Wow accepted Sharansky’s compromise [making a place at the Wall for ‘egalitarian’ prayer], then on Rosh Chodesh Sivan why did they still go to the “Orthodox” part of the Kotel and do something which she knew would offend lots and lots of people? She got what is supposed to be acceptable to her, so why make a machlokos [dispute] for worldwide media?

WoW attendee: some of the WOW are Orthodox and don’t feel comfortable praying in an egalitarian section (they felt deeply uncomfortable that Friday’s prayers ended with no mechitza because there was no room for them to pray in the women’s section. Of course, egalitarian Jews will welcome the new section, and perhaps a part of that section could be reserved for women’s only tefilla groups, but it will take up to 2 years to build. In the meantime, and until the law changes, WOW have a legal right to pray at the Kotel in prayer shawls and tefillin.

Me: I accept the rationale, but if her intentions are sincere (which I don’t believe) I don’t understand why continue to make a provocation and get the macklokos [dispute] in the media. Daven [pray] at the section set aside for this, and get the construction sped up as much as possible. Doing so has nothing to do with religion per se, and is just a matter of menschlikite [being a decent person towards others].

No response.

Me: I’ll grant that not everyone who prays ‘egalitarian’ is like Hoffman and some actually do hold that the Kotel has spiritual significance and is beyond a “monument”, but even for these people you’re saying even three sections isn’t good enough because some women want egalitarian with mechitzah means that to accommodate these people, we’d now need four sections. Where does it end? Everyone has their own opinion.

… and still no response.

Holiness needs a container for rules (see “what is Holy?” and “Mastering a Discipline“), as so too, does any functioning society.  We make choices every day and ascribe importance to them.  Whatever the rule, there will always be someone to say “I don’t like it.”  Entropy and destruction, however, has no rules.  It just wants to destroy what others have built.


Further Reading

Women in Judaism: Part I | Part II





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22 Responses

  1. tostien says:

    I think it’s worth putting Rav Schechter’s recent writings here:

    WOMEN IN TEFILLIN: Rav Hershel Shachter Slams Rabbis Permitting Women To Wear Tefillin
    (Tuesday, February 11th, 2014)
    Tefillin.jpgThe following responsa was written by Rav Hershel Shachter Shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, regarding the recent issue of orthodox girls in certain circles wearing Tefillin. It was translated (unofficially) by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for YWN exclusively because of the importance of the content. Rav Shachter pulls no punches in his defense of the traditional Torah view and decries the audacity of the Rabbis behind the move in issuing rulings regarding matters that are far beyond them. Minor changes were made in formatting to facilitate greater readability and comprehension. Section headings were also added in the beginning and certain ideas were moved to a footnote – for the same purpose.

    “The Entire Congregation is Holy..”


    A Mishna [1] is cited in the beginning of tractate Yuma (2a) that the sages would purposefully cause the Kohain preparing the Parah Adumah to become impure, and then immerse him. They did this in order to entirely negate the view of the Sadducees [that the kohain performing the service must be completely pure – not just partially pure] [2].

    So that onlookers would now not denigrate the process of Para Aduma [3] – the sages further ordained that all the actions involving the Parah Adumah be performed in vessels of dung, stone, and earthenware – vessels that are not susceptible to impurity.


    It was also the custom to build [special] courtyards in Jerusalem over a rock and beneath them an area was hollowed out to protect from a possible grave in the depths below. They would bring pregnant women there and they would give birth there and raise their sons there. They would bring oxen with doors on them and cups so that the children could fill up the water when necessary for the preparation of the ashes of Para Adumah.


    We see that all these details, the special raising of children, the utilization of certain vessels, were all because the sages of the Mesorah who lived during the time of the Bais HaMikdash were concerned not just regarding the Mitzvos that the Saduccees performed entirely incorrectly [4], but rather, even in the matter of the Para Adumah, where the Sadduccees acted more stringently than the Sages of Israel . The sages made a special effort to practice the leniency taught in the Oral law – that even one who was only partially pure is permitted to participate in the Para Adumah.

    They would therefore purposefully cause the Kohain to become impure and they would then subsequently immerse him. This is to show that even stringencies that are not in accord with the Oral law have no basis whatsoever – and that one may not follow such customs. And all this is to entrench in our hearts this fundamental principle – that we only have our traditions, passed down and explained by the sages of our traditions in each and every generation.

    Now in recent months, a new practice has developed, where women don a Kippah, or a Talit and Tefillin during the time of the morning prayers service. They did not pose this question to the halachic adjudicators of our times. Apparently, they do so according to the philosophy of “the entire congregation is holy” – similar to the complaint of Korach and his band. And even if this is not their true intent (following Rashi citing the Midrash), but rather that everyone of them also stood at the foot of Mount Sinai – and therefore – everyone is worthy of adjudicating halacha in accordance with his or her understanding and feelings. [They echo Korach’s statement:] “And why have you elevated yourselves upon the congregation?” In other words, why do we need a Rav or a Rebbe to adjudicate halacha? [compare this to the famous drasha of Rav Y.B. Soloveitchik cited in brief in the book “Nefesh haRav” in Likutei Torah for Parshas Korach and in the book “Hashkafas HaRav”].

    Any individual who has merely studied in a Yeshiva can rule and adjudicate according to his own intellect – especially in our days where anything can be searched and found on the internet, in the Otzer HaChochma, or in the Responsa project of Bar Illan, and other such things. Utilizing these aforementioned methods, each person can thus make himself into a Talmid Chochom or a Morei Horaah. He can then rule even in the most stringent of matters as if he knew by himself all the sources and all the opinions. [Upon this they jokingly explained the intent of the Yerushalmi (beginning of the fourth chapter of Dmai) that states that the fear of Shabbos is upon the unlearned – that is, on Shabbos, where he cannot use his computer, he is in a state of fear that they will catch him and see and understand that in truth he knows nothing!]

    I was shocked to see how otherwise intelligent people are engaging in pilpulim, vain pilpulim, dealing with whether or not women may voluntarily perform the Mitzvah of Tefillin (in the manner of “not commanded but fulfilling it anyway”). They have marshalled opinions both this way and that way, and judge things as if we were living in the period of the Tanach (as they cite precedence from Michal Bas Shaul), or in the period of the Tannaim (where the Tannaim debate regarding whether women may voluntarily lay on hands), or in the period of the Rishonim (who debated things regarding the practices of Rashi’s daughters).

    However, in the abundance of our sins we live in the year 5774 – in the time period of the rebellion of schismatic movements who fight the oral law.

    It is a time when this practice of [women] wearing Talis and Tefillin is found exclusively with Conservative Judaism, where their entire approach to halacha is founded upon the principle that it is permitted – even an obligation to change from the path of our traditions according to the whims and practices of “how the nation conducts itself” whenever there may be any trace of a source to the matter.

    It is this particular point which is the essential difference between them and the Orthodox.

    There is a civil war here – one campaign versus another. It is where one group continues to follow the traditions of their fathers declaring that our fathers did not lie to us. And that we believe with complete faith like all the previous generations – that Moses received the Torah from Mount Sinai.

    The other group screams out and says, “We alone are the true arbiters of the truths of history.” They claim decisively that Moses did not receive the Torah from Sinai, etc. etc. A good portion of their stand and opinion emanates from the claim of their “forefather Korach” – that the entire congregation is holy, as mentioned above.

    It would appear that only someone who is intellectually blind, with no “eyes” to see, will fail to recognize what is under his own nose – that this practice is the practice of Conservative Judaism, and is highly likely to bring about more changes that lie in contrast to the Mesorah, and to bring about a general laxity in the matter of rulings of Psak halacha. [It is also well known what Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik said about his father Rav Chaim Solveitchik, that he had intense powers of understanding and observation. He could predict at the outset of a decision that if it was decided to go in one direction – the repercussion in sixty years would be such and such. And if they went in this other direction, then “such and such” would be the results in sixty years. “But I,” remarked Rav Yitzchok Zev, “do not have such powers of understanding.” After a short pause he added, “But, it would appear to me that at least I do have the quality of seeing what is in front of me right now, under my own nose.”]

    It is an obvious matter that just as the sages of the Mesorah did not permit us to act even according to the stringencies of the Sadducees, and they were careful to previously cause the impurity of the Kohen that prepares the Para Adumah and then immerse him, for the purpose of ensuring that the preparation specifically be done by a Tvul Yom, so too must we do in our actual situation.

    Piskei Halacha are not rendered in an empty vacuum. Rather, they are made in contact with that generation. And in our generation, all the Tannaim, all the Rishonim, and all the Achronim would agree that such practice is decidedly forbidden so as not to emulate the schismatic movements, even though it may appear as a stringency (see the Mishna in Chulin 41a).

    It would appear that this matter lies within the idea of “Arkasa d’Msana [5] – even the changing of shoelaces like the gentiles.” The Rav zatzal said that the parameters of the prohibition of “even changing of shoelaces” are that any practice that became a symbol for the destruction of the religion – even if “according to technical halacha” it is permitted – this (that it has become such a symbol) itself causes it to become forbidden. And so did the Rav presciently predict in his time (regarding Ben Gurion’s topic of “Who is a Jew”), that there is no difference in the matter as to whether the oppressor is a gentile like Antiochus, or a Jew such as Ben Gurion [6], matters of “even the changing of shoelaces” still remains a matter of Yehareg v’al yaavor – where one should be killed rather than violate it.

    It is also well known in the name of the Rav that when the Conservatives first introduced the Bat Mitzvah ceremony in the middle of davening like the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for boys, the Rav warned that Orthodox Rabbis are certainly forbidden from doing so. This is because it is within the notion of “Arkasa d’Msana – even the changing of shoelaces” and is yehareg v’al yaavor.

    Furthermore, see the Chazon Ish (OC 52:6) who writes that even though it appears correct to permit opening up the hood above a baby carriage [on Shabbos], we should still forbid opening an umbrella for a number of reasons. One of them is that it will cause a pirtzah – a breach. Perhaps his intent is like what was explained above – that the umbrella served as the symbol of the destruction of religion in Europe regarding Reform Jewry. Therefore, we must forbid it – even though that by virtue of the laws of a temporary tent regarding the Malacha of building on the Sabbath it might technically be permitted.

    Indeed, I am perplexed at the very outset, what those who permitted it were even thinking.

    The Ramah (OC 38:3) has already cited the views of the Rishonim and there is no dissenting view among all the commentaries of the Shulchan Aruch – that in our times we all have a problem of maintaining a guf naki. Therefore, the decision was made to minimize the duration of the donning of Tefillin even for men (in other words – just during the Shacharis service). This is how the Rav explained the matter properly and well in his lectures (See MiPninei HaRav Tefillin section 1).

    This is also how the Rav ruled in actuality regarding a young Baalas Teshuvah, a student in Frisch, who wanted to put on Tefillin. The Rav ruled, based upon the words of the Ramah, not to allow her to do so. One cannot say that in the past forty years the situation has so improved regarding the purity of thought necessary for the putting on of Tefillin. It is known to all that this was the accepted practice for all generations, and who is this who dares to have the audacity to rule agains the accepted ruling of our master the Ramah. Compare this to the Rambam Hilchos Shmita and Yovel (10:6) that accepted practice and conduct are considered huge pillars in the matter of halachic adjudication. In them, it is worthy to rely upon. In other words, even though the opinion of the Rambam in this matter was inclined to rule not in accordance with the view of the Gaonim, he finally adjudicated in their way, because this was the accepted practice.

    And those who quote the expression, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai,” continue with and passed it on to Yehoshua etc. They state, “We have in our hand a strong tradition as to how to render halacha.” But the field of halacha is not like an abandoned property where the first person who lays claim to it receives it, and whoever is stronger wins, or whoever publicizes his opinion first either through the newspapers or through the internet the halacha is like him.

    No. The matter is as it has been explained in the Midrashim – that one thousand walk into the Beis HaMidrash and one comes out suitable to rule in the area of halacha. That one individual is one who has interned for much time with his master. He received the words of Torah investing blood and soul. He is indeed married to the Torah – not just engaged to it.

    Indeed, the Rav would often say (see drasha to Parshas Korach), that every person must recognize that he needs a Rav or a Rebbe. Even a Talmid Chochom whose Rebbe had passed away must constantly ask himself in truth (when they present questions to him) what his Rebbe would have said in such a scase, and what stance he would have taken. [I once heard from my colleague Rav Abba Bronspiegel, may he live, that he had once posed a question to the Rav (when he was visiting the Rav’s mother in her apartment). After some back and forth, the Rav ruled leniently. His mother was upset at him and said, “Your father would not have ruled in this way!” The Rav immediately retracted his ruling, as his father was certainly his Rebbe Muvhak, the Rebbe whom he had learned from the most.]

    The expression that some of those who have permitted this utilize that “according to the technical halacha” a certain act is permitted, and that which people wish to prohibit it is because of “political considerations” is incorrect. For even a matter such as changing the mesorah – the traditions of the Jewish people is in and of itself an integral section of halacha. When one rules on “the donning of Tefillin for women” it is not enough to merely examine the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch in Hilchos Tefillin and in the sources there and treat it as a simple question.

    Rather, like any question in halacha, we must rule on the topic from all facets and perspectives. Not always will the ruling lay on that page in Shulchan Aruch that we had initially thought. This is what is said in the Yerushalmi Rosh haShana (3:5) on the verse (Mishlei 31:14), “mimerchak tavi lachma – from a far place she will bring her bread” that [quite often] the words of Torah are poor in one place and rich in another place. All difficult questions such as this [ruling against an explicit Ramah in Shulchan Aruch is certainly a difficult question that certainly needs wide shoulders], certainly must be presented before Torah scholars who are Morei Horaah that have a wide knowledge in halacha.

    No mere musmach or local Rabbi, even one with the best if intentions, should express his opinion in a question such as this, and certainly not to publicize his private opinion through the media or the internet. For such a serious question applies to all of Klal Yisroel who are true to the Mesorah. Only leading Gedolei Horaah are permitted to decide upon these matters.

    Our complaint is not at all upon the women who have endeavored to fulfill this Mitzvah, rather it is upon the Rabbis (all of whom have received ordination from our Yeshiva) who proffered an erroneous opinion here, without consultation of their question to the Morei Horaah that they direct their questions toward regarding other matters. They have publicized their opinion as if it were a simple matter to permit. May Hashem Yisborach mend the breaches and repair the rips that occurred in our camp and direct our hearts to serve him in truth and purity [7].

    (Rav) Tzvi [Hershel] Schachter,

    Adar I, 5774

    The translator can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com


    [1] Parah 3:2

    [2] The Sadducees interpreted that the entire procedure took place after the sun had already set and the kohain was thus completely pure.

    [3] Rashi explains that since a Tvul Yom would be kosher for use in the preparations of a Parah, people might think that one does not have to be so exacting in things. They therefore were very careful to observe all these stringencies.

    [4] Such as always celebrating Shavuos on a Sunday, or such as on Yom Kippur to fix the matter outside the heichal and bring it in afterward – where they made him take an oath that he was not a Saduccee (See Yuma 18b).

    [5] See Sanhedrin 74b.

    [6] The notion of “oppressor Jew” is first found in response Avnei Naizer OC response 37 see Nefesh haRav p. 233.

    [7] See further my response on mixed Minyanim (Shvat 5774) to be augmented to what we have written here.

    – See more at: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/213379/women-in-tefillin-rav-hershel-shachter-slams-rabbis-permitting-women-to-wear-tefillin.html#sthash.7TdynWqp.dpuf

  2. tostien says:

    You can’t make this up: http://womenofthewall.org.il/2013/06/7233/

    Iris Richman is ordained by the conservative movement. As background, Korach rebelled against Moshe and Aaron for his own power, as recorded in the Torah. However, Moshe and Aaron were placed in power at the command of G_d and Korach was killed by G_d. However, Iris Richman says that Women of the Wall are Korach.

  3. kohelet says:

    “Women for the Wall just posted an article articulating this point of their insincerity.”

    Whose insincerity? Women of the Wall or Women for the Wall?

    Quoting the propaganda from these Aunt Jemimas doesn’t make it so.

  4. tostien says:

    Kohelet – it seems you have not read a single word of the article, or watched the video of about 10,000 allegedly “disenfranchised” women praying to the Creator. As for “small sliver”, again, it’s clear you haven’t read the article or been following the issue, because they’ve been offered an equal size area but still prefer to be nuisance and intolerant of those who believe it’s a holy place, not just a monument.

    If you want to have an intelligent discussion about this, I’m happy to do so, but the knee-jerk victim argument has nothing to do with reality.

    • kohelet says:

      They have been offered an area away from the Plaza, with access to be built in about 2 years (which might as well be infinity, as construction projects go, and as elections change the makeup of the government). I have watched more than that single video and have seen lots of pictures courtesy of Facebook and Israeli newspapers. The kedusha comes from the Temple Mount and the location of Kodesh Hakadoshim, not from the Wall or the Plaza. L’mah hadavar domeh? To the outside of a funeral home where a Kohen like myself is allowed to stand without fear of defilement. Those 10,000 students hopefully will put on the uniforms of the IDF and do something productive to protect the State of Israel instead of being used like pawns by their Rashei Yeshivot. Feel free to discuss intelligently with someone like myself who is intimately familiar with the Kotel, has prayed silently on Har Habayit, had an Ultra Orthodox upbringing, and has served in the IDF.

      • tostien says:

        I’m not sure what army service has to do with the article, but okay, I’ll bite.

        By saying that they “will put on the uniforms of the IDF and do something productive” your implication is that the 10,000 women who talked to their Creator at the Wall did nothing productive. We don’t believe it’s just a “monument” to the past, as both you and Hoffman have said, but rather, a place of prayer which has been upgraded to a place where tens of thousands of Jews talk to the Creator.

        Even if you don’t believe it’s true, at least show respect for those who believe it is a place of holiness and who believe a relationship with their Creator is the ultimate in productiveness.

      • kohelet says:

        I’m sure you know that one can pray anywhere. Furthermore, the 10,000 are free to pray there, or any other place, without imposing their beliefs on WOW. Each can pray according to their own ways. Neither has dominion over the other. WOW prayers do not impede the prayers of the 10,000 (which we’ll assume is a correct number, but doesn’t really matter).

      • tostien says:

        So just like WOW, you want the Kotel to be a place where Jews who believe the place is holy, will not feel comfortable praying, in favor of people who believe it’s all lies anyway, and being there is non-productive.

        If Torah observant Jews stopped praying there, the reform would too. They believe it has no sanctity and no one prays at the Washington Monument, either.

      • kohelet says:

        Some of the WOW are Reform. Others are Conservative, while still others are Orthodox. They believe it is a special place, but NOT a Haredi synagogue.

      • tostien says:

        See the section of the article on why Torah observant Jews aren’t accepting of other forms of Jewish Practice: https://patentlyjewish.com/women-of-the-wall-part-ii-jews-for-kant/#why-arent-torah-observant-jews-accepting-of-other-forms-of-jewish-practice

        Further, no one has said it’s a “haredi” synagogue – it’s a Jewish place of prayer.

      • kohelet says:

        And the WOW are Jews who have a right to pray.

      • tostien says:

        Yeah, I covered that argument too.


        Me: I accept the rationale, but if her intentions are sincere (which I don’t believe) I don’t understand why continue to make a provocation and get the macklokos [dispute] in the media. Daven [pray] at the section set aside for this, and get the construction sped up as much as possible. Doing so has nothing to do with religion per se, and is just a matter of menschlikite [being a decent person towards others].

      • kohelet says:

        Is sitting in the back of the bus menschlichkite? No, not Rosa Parks, although that too is an interesting comparison. Just the kooshere-hazir-fees “Mehadrin” buses. It’s time for the ochlei-lehem-hesed to start doing their share and stop dictating their norms to others. And, yes, there are Orthodox WOW whose intentions are sincere.

      • tostien says:

        Look, we can argue about every issue of contention amongst the Jewish people in the world, but I’d like to stick to the topic of the article. The buses are a very different issue – here, WOW got something they said is acceptable to them in the Sharansky compromise. If they want sincere prayer at the Kotel, they got it. They could do that and stop making machlokos, or they could continue to demand the mechitzah be torn down, Orthodox men be banned from the Kotel entirely, and purposely causing a provocation month after month. They chose the later on Rosh Chodesh Sivan so it’s clear that this has nothing to do with sincere prayer at the Kotel but using ‘prayer’ for political purposes.

        Women for the Wall just posted an article articulating this point of their insincerity. Quoting the conclusion:

        “This all begs an interesting question. If the Orthodox were brushed away and the Wall became a national secular or American Reform Jewish site, the Orthodox would likely move to worship at another section of the Wall, perhaps down by Robinson’s arch. Yet that is precisely the site Hoffman’s group was provided and didn’t like – because there were no Orthodox Jews there; “I want to be where all the Jews are.”

        That is the irony. If Women of the Wall showed up on Rosh Chodesh and the women’s section was empty, the group would evidently go home, because there would be no point to be made. If the Orthodox women migrated down to Robinson’s arch in order to get some quiet, then wouldn’t Women of the Wall follow them? Women of the Wall exists because Orthodox Judaism exists. If Orthodox Jews decided to abandon the Kotel, Women of the Wall would follow them, because it is the Orthodox Jewish method of worship, the apparent inequality and the need to “liberate” the Jewish Orthodox women, i.e. colonize them, that unfortunately appears to motivate some of these actions. One woman who attended the December Rosh Chodesh event went thinking it was about women and prayer but came away disappointed, “I thought they would be doing their thing, however it was too activist for me, but I still support their cause.””

  5. tammy says:

    None of those students “took off” school! The prayers were at 6:30 in the morning! Who says rosh chodesh is a women’s holiday? The Tur? Did you look up what he had to say about mixed services with women reciting Kaddish? What else can you quote from the Tur?

    Maybe *celebrate* Rosh Hodesh in a more peaceful and considerate fashion. It is not just “the haredim” who find this behaviour obnoxious. These women are twisting Jewish customs and sources to suit their needs. “Hadarat nashim”? Those thousands of women pray very powerfully and meaningfully every day of their lives. They don’t need the tallis and tefillin just like they don’t need a beard.

    • kohelet says:

      My, my. Such condescension. When did these students return to their yeshivot? Who are you to dictate to other women how they might pray before God. Even Eli, the Kohen Gadol, made the mistake of thinking Hana was a drunkard while she prayed before God. Would you have condemned her prayer too for being in a mixed service?

  6. kohelet says:

    Rosh Hodesh because Rosh Hodesh is a woman’s holiday (Tur Orach Chaim 417). If it’s such a small circle why are the haredim not willing to give them a small sliver of the Kotel? Why did the Haredi Rashei Yeshivot of all those high school and seminary students agree to let them take the day off?.The Kotel is a national monument belonging to ALL Jews. Disenfranchising women will not work. Hadarat nashim has to come to an end.

  1. December 3, 2013

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