Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

The clear words of the Rambam reverberate in my ears when the above anecdotes continues to occur, to my utter disbelief and dismay [Laws of Deot 3/1]: “Said our sages- the Nazarite, that only forbade wine on himself, needs atonement. How much more so one that prevents himself/herself from everything. Therefore, our sages commanded that one shall not prevent himself except from that which the Torah forbade….and the sages stated; Is it not enough that which the Torah forbade, you go ahead and forbid yourself from other things…!

We are commanded to be steadfast Jews, adhering to the laws of the Torah, be they logical laws, incomprehensible ones, convenient laws or inconvenient laws. Some are biblical, other rabbinic, and yes – some are pure stringencies needed and warranted in certain situations. While keeping such a lifestyle is far from easy, we dare not create a new religion in which we turn to be more “frum” than the Torah demanded. But even more so, we dare not create a lifestyle, like the women above, which runs counter to the Torah itself! Let us never forget the confession many say on the eve of Yom-Kippur, moments before the onset of “Kol Nidrei” fills the air, as part of the famous תפילה זכה:

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How can I come before you and what remedy can I ask for?

I was life a rebellious son, like a slave rebelling against his teacher.

That which you have purified I have deemed impure, and that which is impure I deemed pure.

That which you have allowed I have forbidden, and that which you have forbidden I have allowed.

That which you loved I hated and that which you hated I loved.

That which you have been lenient on I have been stringent, and that which you have been stringent I have been lenient…

and with utter audacity I come before you to ask to atonement. 

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Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein, formerly the Rabbi of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Halifax, Canada, and formerly Director of Training and Placement at the Straus-Amiel and Beren-Amiel Institute of Ohr Torah Stone, R' Grunstein serves as an administrator of the Rabbinical Court of Gush Etzion, and is part of the founding faculty of the morning English speaking Kollel of Efrat. An experienced rabbi, writer and popular lecturer in Israel and around the world, he is the author of Daven Your Age (2013), Beyond Routine (2018), Murmurings of a Minyaner (2021), co-editor of Machzor Vechai Bahem (OTS 2020 and 2021), and has over 1,000 recorded classes online in both Hebrew and English.
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