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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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No Mitzvot, No God

No Mitzvot, No God

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I deconstructed the latest notice from Women of the Wall (they’ve taken me off their email blast list, so I had to go to their website to find it – the things I do for you…). The headline was “Double Bat Mitzvah at the Kotel- No Protests and No Torah.” The word “Mitzvah” was mentioned 3 times, each time as part of the term Bat Mitzvah. The word “Mitzvot” was not mentioned, nor was the word “God.”

The reason Jewish men pray, above anything else, is because we’re told to do so by our Rabbinic tradition. We may not do it very well, we may be late to shul or skip the service altogether and daven at home, or skip davening at home – but when we do, it’s because we were commanded.

The mitzvot are the system of our liberation from our egos. We substitute God’s will for our will, as best we can. With that in mind, take a look at the WOW text from Friday:

Two Israeli girls celebrated their bat mitzvah with Women of the Wall on Friday. “Unfortunately, after months of studying, learning the Torah reading and its blessings, the young girls were denied the right afforded to their male counterparts, the right to read from a Torah scroll at their bat mitzvah.”

The language of civil rights seems so foreign in the religious context. Look at this sentence: “For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has struggled for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall.” Once a month, for a quarter century, these warrior women struggle at the Wall. It’s kind of comical to have a regularly scheduled struggle. And to be saying with an open face that it’s about “freedom” and “rights.”

Freedom from what? From the oppression of having to obey the rabbi in charge at the Kotel?

Seriously, whom do Women of the Wall serve?

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride / You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side / You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair / You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed / You’re gonna have to serve somebody / Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord / But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.


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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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10 Responses to “No Mitzvot, No God”

  1. David Blatt says:

    Yori-Give it up. Stop attacking these good ladies.

  2. Seriously, you’re quoting a Dylan song used in the “Sopranos”?

  3. Let the men pray. And let us light our sabbath candles.

  4. Who are they hurting? They want to read from the Torah! You act as if they want to rob a bank! In a world where Jew haters are mobilizing to kick us out of countries throughout Europe yet again, where the Jew hating Arab world has taken over nearly half the planet, where the existence if the Jewish state is threatened from without and within, you can't find anyone better to attack than a group of young women who love Torah? Shame on you!

  5. Yori I have enjoyed reading your articles in the past, but I may have to refrain from now on. Your position is WRONG! While you may pray out of obligation, we (women) pray because we choose to. We CHOOSE to accept the reponsibility of reading Torah and, while not commanded to do so, are NOT forbidden. It is you men who forbid it. The mitzvah would have been fulfilled if there were no discrimination by men like you, but there is. Who are you to decide who is worthy to fulfill mitzvot? This issue isn’t about God and mitzvot, it is about the arrogance of men.

  6. Moishe Pupik says:

    Francine Cuff · It often helps to read an article before responding. He is clearly in favor of women praying.

  7. Why are you opposed to women reading Torah at the Kotel? Does it threaten you and other men in some way? Just because we are not “commanded” to do it doesn’t mean we should be prevented from performing this mitzvah if we choose. You said “No mitzvah, no God.” If WOW is permitted to read the Torah, then they are fulfilling the mitzvah. The only thing preventing it is MEN – self-righteous, arrogant men. Our performance of mitzvot should be encouraged, not fought with violence in word and action.

  8. Moishe Pupik if I did not make it clear enough for you that I was referring to women reading Torah at the Kotel, my deepest apologies. But you have helped further the point of my original comment. You have actual adversaries, my friend. Better to save your venom to spew at them

  9. Why are people always looking for something to argue about. If the woman are studying Torah then they should now ways of making peace not turning this into a civil rights movement. Don’t the Jews have enough to deal with, with everyone around trying to destroy Israel!

  10. Keith David Reitman says:

    Ouch! Yori. You had better sit this one out. Prayer is a personal matter.No man should enforce his opinion of how to pray upon another. Other than that…my most sincere best wishes to you and wishing you success in all your other efforts. Yikes! Here is a tune for you to quote reflecting your stuck in the mud on this: Homer and Jethro's- " I'm My Own Grampa"

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