Thus far all the condemnation in the world hasn’t helped. These zealots keep doing things like this with apparent impunity. That’s because all those verbal condemnations did not stop them. And that’s about as far as the rabbinic leadership will go with these people. Especially the Meah Shearim/Eida HaHaredis types. They will not turn these vandals in to the police – no doubt because they believe it would violates the laws of mesira (informing). Not to mention the fact that they consider the authorities to be reshaim – evil people. So this kind of thing will not only continue, but may very well escalate.
The irony of all this is that this latest act was probably generated by the rabbinic call for prayer at the Kotel to masses of Haredi young women. That event brought media attention to it and an increased fervor by the zealots to resist the Women of the Wall with all their might. The rabbis had hoped that a show of strength in numbers through a massive act of prayer would once and for all discourage these women. They somehow believed that this show of strength would tell the world that the majority of women really want only traditional modes of prayer at the Kotel. Not the radical modalities brought to the Kotel by WoW.
But predictably that has only strengthened WoW’s resolve… and the media attention brought their issue to the wider attention of other liberal groups who support them in greater numbers than ever.
As I have said repeatedly, I am not a fan of WoW. I think that their activities at the wall are as much about women’s rights as they are about devotion to God. At least as far as their leader Anat Hoffman is concerned.
This latest event has angered me. Every fiber in my body wants to retaliate. Mida K’Neged Mida, measure for measure. That is the Godly way. It is how God punished the Egyptians in biblical times and we are created in the image of God. But as an opponent of violence, I do not advocate doing this. It would be just as wrong for example to spray graffiti on the walls of a home belonging to a leader of the Eida HaHaredis in retaliation. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Arresting these vandals won’t stop them either. There are just too many of them. Besides Israeli jail cells seem to have revolving doors for these people.
Perhaps it’s time to take a different approach. I know this is nothing short of a fantasy, but wouldn’t it be nice if for example next Rosh Chodesh (first of the Hebrew month) rabbinic leaders themselves – people like like Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Nissin Karelitz, and Rav Shmuel Auerbach among others – joined Rav Shmuel Rabinovich at the Kotel and stood with the Women of the Wall? Not in support of what they are doing. But in opposition to the almost certain violence it will now generate? Let the zealots try and throw rocks and garbage at them!
Even though I am opposed to the Women of the Wall, I am more opposed to the violent opposition to them. It’s time to stand up for what’s right… and against what’s wrong. There needs to be a way to end what these zealots constantly do – creating one desecration of God’s name after another. I can think of no better way to do that, than by a show of unity among rabbinic leaders in clear opposition to them right there at the Kotel.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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