Posts Tagged ‘women for the wall’
The Reform-led Women of the Wall group managed to sneak a miniature Torah scroll to the Western Wall Friday morning and used it celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of a girl who had to use a magnifying to read the letters.
An attempt earlier in the morning to enter the Western Wall with a regular-sized Torah scroll was stopped by officials. The Western Wall is operated as an orthodox synagogue, where women have no requirement to attend and where they have no obligation to read from the Torah.
The WoW group’s numbers have dwindled to only a few dozen in their monthly spectacle on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a new month that this month falls on Friday and Shabbat.
The Torah scroll that they smuggled this morning was only 11 inches high, including the handles. WoW said the scroll was ‘kosher,” meaning that it meets all requirement of Jewish law, and that it was loaned to them by someone whose ancestor had taken it from Lithuania 200 years ago.
There is no prohibition from using a Torah scroll that is so tiny that it requires a magnifying glass to read, but it is not known if the scroll has been in use in recent years. If it is not read during the year, there is no way of knowing whether there is no deterioration of even one letter, which would make it unfit for reading.
Even if the scroll is kosher, the WoW”s constant demand to read a Torah scroll at the Western Wall Plaza when rabbis already have agreed to allow the women to use a Torah scroll in another section of the same Wall but in a less visible area, makes a mockery of itself.
The women no doubt were all excited over themselves for being able to “fool” the rabbis, the ones who are real rabbis, and call Sasha Lutt, the daughter of a Russian immigrant to read from the scroll, with a magnifying glass.
They certainly were wildly singing Hallel, consisting of several Psalms recited on Rosh Chodesh, with every muscle in their mouths. They surely were dancing in celebration, but in celebration of what – that they tricked the rabbis and got some more publicity or in celebration that they were praying? That they felt so much holier than yesterday?
We will let God answer those questions, but the extravaganza does not absolve the WoW from the judgment of others, such as a counter organization called Women for the Wall.
“I find the use of a Sefer Torah as a PR prop extremely painful,” said Leah Aharoni, co-founder of the group. “The Sages have taught us not to use the Torah as a spade with which to dig, yet this is exactly what is happening here – an insensitive group co-opting religion to promote a political agenda.”
I have repeatedly written that the Women of the Wall should be allowed to make fools out of themselves. They are not innocent and harmless people, but they harm themselves more than anyone else.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
Here’s your historically unaware quote of the day:
“Chanuka celebrates the willingness of dedicated Jews to risk even their lives against the infiltration of foreign ideas,” said Women For the Wall co-founder Leah Aharoni. “As in the times of the Maccabees, so today, the battle rages at our holiest site. It is upon us to follow in the footsteps of Yehudis and Chana to preserve our holy Mesorah.”
Yehudis and Chana are not part of our holy Mesorah! Can you preserve the mesorah by invoking heroines from outside of the mesorah? Yehudis is from the book of Judith, while Chana is only found in the Book of Maccabees (a similar story is found on BT Gittin 57b but the woman there, who is not named, faces a Ceaser, not a Greek.)
Also, how did either women preserve the mesorah? Yehudis murdered an enemy general, saving her town; the woman in Macabees (who, by the way, is not called Chana in that book either. Joseph ben Gorion in the 10th century is believed to the first one to identify her by that name) merely watches her sons die (No act of martyrdom is recorded in the Book of Macabees.) In what way did either act “preserve the Mesorah?”
Moreover, while the Book of Judith may have been written as a response to the Seleucid persecutions it is set several centuries earlier. The villains in the book are Assyrians, not Greeks.
But more to the point, I’d argue that the idea that women have no role in services and no right to participate is itself a foreign idea. The Talmud recognizes the women are technically permitted to be called for aliyot. The rishonim allow them to wear talitot and even tefillin. The foreign idea, therefore, seems to be this notion that women must be forever banned from doing these things.
In a display of the changes the group has experienced this year, Women of the Wall held a peaceful prayer service under police protection at the Western Wall to mark the group’s 25th anniversary.
Absent from Monday’s service, which the group said drew at least 800 worshipers, were large crowds of Orthodox girls who had packed the women’s section in previous months.
For the first time in recent memory, Women of the Wall occupied the majority of the section, with a crowd of male supporters stretching back into the plaza.
The group has met for a women’s prayer service at the wall at the beginning of each Jewish month for the past quarter-century, but has seen rapid change in its status during the past six months.
Until April, women in the group who donned prayer shawls or sang too loudly often would be detained by police. But that month, a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that the group’s practices did not violate any of the wall’s regulations, and since then the police are protecting the women rather than arresting them.
“We’ve come a long way, baby,” Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman told JTA during the service. “It shouldn’t have taken 25 years. It should have taken two weeks. But we’re now where we should be.”
Several dozen Haredi men came to protest on Monday, but aside from a few token disturbances, the service continued uninterrupted.
The past half-year has also seen a compromise solution from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky. An outline Sharansky released in April called for a significant expansion of an area to the south of the plaza called Robinson’s Arch that is now used for non-Orthodox prayer.
After backing away from the plan, Women of the Wall endorsed it last month, agreeing to move to the new section should a list of conditions be met.
Brandishing the Western Wall regulation that forbids the group from bringing a Torah scroll to its services, Hoffman told JTA that Women of the Wall has yet to reach all its goals. She said, though, that given the relative calm at the Wall, the group will now be turning its attention to negotiations with the government about the Robinson’s Arch plan.
“We’re not scared of jail and arrests — we’re scared of negotiations,” Hoffman joked. “Can we get the maximum? We won’t be suckers.”JTA