web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Sharansky Option

Public protests of the expansion of the Robinson's Arch area for egalitarian prayer would only generate more enmity.
Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky.

Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

Natan Sharansky has come up with a plan that he feels is a workable compromise between Charedim and heterodox movements. It will enable people to attend egalitarian prayer services (where men and women have equal stature in all ritual aspects of a Minyan) at the Kotel (the Western Wall), Israel’s holiest accessible site. I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports it.

There has been a lot of controversy at the Kotel in recent times where some women have tried to buck traditional practices at the Kotel by holding unusual services there. The Women of the Wall (WoW) have tried to have a monthly women’s prayer service there that includes such traditional male modalities as wearing a talit, and reading the Torah.

This has disturbed the Haredi world since it is such a wide departure from tradition – which has always dictated practices at the Kotel. They complained to the government. The government responded with new rules about a woman wearing a talit that has resulted in multiple arrests every Rosh Hodesh (new month of the Jewish calendar) when WOW tires to hold its services at the main plaza. It happened again a few days ago.

I have in the past argued against this group because I felt that they were more about demanding women’s religious rights than they were about serving God in ways they choose to do so. There was no rule against their having any type of service they choose at a different location along the Kotel called “Robinson’s Arch.” But they have chosen to do their service at the main Kotel Plaza and thereby upset the traditional worshipers there who feel that at best they are a distraction.

That these women are sincere in their devotion to God is somewhat undermined by their insistence that they use an area used by traditionalists who have always done their prayer services quietly and individually without drawing any attention to themselves.

The argument by WoW and their supporters is that people should have the right to pray anywhere they choose along the main Kotel Plaza and they insist on doing so to make a point of that.

I have come around to the view that these women should be left alone. As long as they are not disruptive – who cares if they are wearing a talit… or reading from the Torah?! At the same time if conflict can be avoided – it should be. If WoW could be given a place that is both free and similar in size to the main Kotel Plaza, I think they should take it and avoid any future conflict.

Sharansky’s proposal addresses another women’s issue – egalitarian minyan. This is not WoW. There are no men in their group. Technically I suppose there are no Halachic issues with WoW – other than breaking traditional non-Halachic taboos.

But feminism has given rise to egalitarianism in heterodox movements. In order to preserve the peace and accommodate both Haredim and those who seek egalitarian minyanim – he has proposed that Robinson’s Arch (which is out of view from the main Kotel plaza) be expanded so that its space equal that of the main Kotel Plaza… and that there be free access to it in the future. This would in essence be the actual realization of separate but equal rights for heterodox movements.

Just to be clear about mixed setting for prayer at the Kotel… I don’t think this is an issue. The only place where there is a requirement to separate the sexes via a mechitza (partition) is where there is Kedushat Beit HaKnesset. That means that only in a synagogue does a woman’s presence interfere with the minyan. Outside of a synagogue, women may be present… as is the case at weddings or banquets in hotels where there are ad hoc minyanim for Mincha and Maariv all the time. Women are present and in view of the men. They are not separated by any partition.

The question about whether the Kotel serves as a Shul has been answered by history. Archival photos show that in pre-state days going back to the 19th century – men and women were not separated when they came to pray at the Kotel. I do not therefore believe that the Kotel area can be classified as having Kedushat Beit HaKnesset.

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 hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

6 Responses to “The Sharansky Option”

  1. Thank you for coming to the wise realization that since Women of the Wall is a women's only halachik prayer group, and not bothering anyone, we should just be left alone in our corner of the women's section at the Kotel.

  2. I cannot believe that in this day and age Women are considered a" Diistraction" to men when both of them ara praying. I remember when in an Orthodox Synagogue, in Alexandria Egypt, the women and girls and I were only permitted to pray in the "poulallier, upstairs," or "Chicken coupe." For heavens sake, is this this not the 21st century?

  3. How about women's rights to pray where they want to? You really think God cares where they pray? Those stupid ancien laws are man-made by a male-dominated Fundamentalist religion that has lost touch with the current times.

  4. How about women's rights to pray where they want to? You really think God cares where they pray? Those stupid ancien laws are man-made by a male-dominated Fundamentalist religion that has lost touch with the current times.

  5. Nmcva Mata says:

    wow, will you go also against a decision of Ha Mashiah? just for the sake of wooow…?

  6. Daniel Shapiro says:

    Clearly Liliane, you are old enough to know better, or should. "stupid ancien(t) laws are man-made by a male-dominated Fundamentalist religion that has lost touch with the current times." Well Liliane, your statement proved the point that this is all about your happiness not the holiness of prayer. Your statement further announces to all that you have no respect for Judaism, and that explains your lack of respect for those who do adhere to it's laws and customs. With your clear contempt for our ancient religion that has survived thru all the wars, pogroms, holocausts, etc. BECAUSE of our adherence to the laws and customs of not anything man made, but TORAH given to us by Hashem. Prayer is not about your comfort or happiness, it is about Hashem. To address your second post… yes, thankfully, even in this day and age women are a distraction to men. Hopefully beautiful people of the opposite sex will always be a distraction. It is truly one of the benefits and wonders (and sometimes curses), of being healthy human beings.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Blogs Stories
"Shiloh"

Shiloh, where the Mishkan stood for near 400 years, was the spiritual capital of the Jewish Nation.

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

European Union

Is the EU “Jewish challenged”?

Car in Light Rail Runover

The headlines refused to scream “ARAB TERROR ATTACK;” instead the phrase “Suspected Terror Attack.”

I’ve heard many times I write what others think, making them extremely happy; that’s why I continue.

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Has the Jewish world adapted to the times? Hear the answer with Doug and his guest, Rabbi Berel Wein.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Kids bring in the light and let out the darkness through breathing exercises; it changes people.

If I make a million dollars in 2 weeks, how can I observe something like this and sit by quietly?”

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

How long will it take for Israel and the Jewish World to admit that we are in very serious danger?

How do changes in technology affect the human life and our interactions with each other?

Palestinians (and Jordanians) often use the term “provocation” regarding Israeli action in Jerusalem

The zealots who engineered the ban have been publicly disgraced.

More Articles from Harry Maryles
eg

Kids bring in the light and let out the darkness through breathing exercises; it changes people.

Mir

If I make a million dollars in 2 weeks, how can I observe something like this and sit by quietly?”

“Shuls that are full on Friday night were fuller than normal, looking more like Yom Kippur”

I can’t blame these people for seeing women that way, it’s how they are raised-I blame the Hashkafa

Though the Talmud doesn’t give instructions, Metzitza has always been done B’Peh – by oral suction.

If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons

Smear campaigns by people with agendas other than justice do not faze him; He does what is right.

There’s much confusion about the definition of Daas Torah; simply put it means the wisdom of Torah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-sharansky-option/2013/04/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: