Monday, May 13, 2013

Orthodox Rabbi Eliyah Fink re N'shei HaKotel/Women of the Wall

You can read his post and comments here.

"Go back a few months. Imagine the Kotel authority just looked the other way when a small group of women prayed in a different way than the other women. The Women of the Wall were not proselytizing, they were not trying to win converts, they were not trying to make a revolution at the Kotel. They just wanted to pray they way they like to pray. Is it the way orthodox Jewish women pray? Not usually. Is it halachically acceptable? Barely. But there is definitely room to allow it. The Women of the Wall would be a small blip on the Kotel radar as they have been for several years now. Especially now that the court sided in their favor, this Rosh Chodesh would have passed with little fanfare. The Women of the Wall would have done their thing without threat of arrest and no one would have been in the news or in jail.

Instead a massive counter protest was manufactured. Not too many people seemed bothered by the small group of Women of the Wall. No one really felt so outraged that they needed to do something about it. People noticed, or didn’t notice, and that was it. No big deal. Until last week. Until people were told to care, they didn’t. As was appropriate.

The organizers tapped into the two things that are guaranteed to draw big numbers: Daas Torah and paranoia about non-orthodox Jews. The rabbis said to go protest and so they went to protest. The pretext for the protest was that the Women of the Wall were out to uproot the sanctity of the Kotel and over time they were out to erode the very essence of orthodox Judaism. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. How can a few dozen women carry so much power? Why do the ultra-orthodox even care what they are doing? I don’t have the answer to that question and I have yet to see a satisfactory answer from anyone else.

They should have been left alone. Instead, thousands of people came to the Kotel on Friday and turned it into a battleground. And for what? Is there really any legitimate fear that charedi Judaism is in danger of being subverted by a few dozen women? Are we so paranoid, so insecure about our frumkeit? Is seeing some women praying in non-traditional ways such a danger?

The part that hurts me the most is that these women are not sinning, they are praying! While many may not agree with the manner in which they are praying, it boggles the mind that orthodox Jews would stifle prayer at the Kotel or anywhere for that matter. If we really believe that prayer is a mitzvah, and praying brings us closer to God, why would we deny others the same opportunity?"


Anonymous AnDat said...

Side point re: the title - apparently ungrammatically, in Hebrew they seem to call themselves "N'shot haKotel", rather than "N'shei haKotel".

Mon May 13, 10:02:00 PM 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one quibble: while I think Fink is largely correct, he ignores one point: The Women of the Wall want to provoke a reaction. They aren't JUST there to daven in a barely halachic manner. They want the reaction.

The chareidim are idiots for falling into their trap and should have ignored them. But let's not pretend that the women of the wall are just poor innocent women wanting to daven. They want to make a statement and they did.

Tue May 14, 10:07:00 AM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"N'shot HaKotel?" That's a new one. In their defense, AnDat, I've always found it interesting that "nashim, the Hebrew word for "women," is a masculine noun, and I suspect that "N'shot HaKotel" are trying to make a point.

". . . let's not pretend that the women of the wall are just poor innocent women wanting to daven." Anon., I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt (dan l'kaf z'chut) and assume that at least some of them are just there to davven. When I davven in an Orthodox shul on a Shabbat or Yom Tov (haven't had a chance on a weekday in over a decade), I feel a bit strange without a tallit, since I've been davvening in a tallit for forty years (and in tefillin for about 15).

Tue May 14, 11:46:00 AM 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're not trying to make a point. Nashim is not a masculine noun. That's absurd.

N'shai ha'kotel implies "wives of the kotel". Nashot ha'kotel is a slightly archaic, not really used alternative smikhut form that means "women of the kotel."

And if they simply wanted ot daven in peace, why issue press releases and arrange for celebrities etc. to come out? I don't buy it.

Tue May 14, 02:47:00 PM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Anon., thanks for correcting my Hebrew.

As for the publicity, it sometimes helps keep them from getting arrested. It really is a shame, though, that a simple Shacharit service has become a media circus.

Fri May 17, 10:57:00 AM 2013  
Anonymous tesyaa said...

Anonymous, the women's organization of Lubavitch is "N'shei Chabad", not "N'shot".

Sun May 19, 07:55:00 AM 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So? I suspect the women of the wall know dikduk better than Chabad and chose an archaic form to avoid the connotation I mentioned above.

And no, the publicity is to get them publicity. They want to get arrested. That's how they gain sympathy. I'm opposed to their methods, not their goal. They're not there for a "simple Shacharit service" they're there to make a point.

Mon May 20, 10:25:00 AM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

But they've been doing this for decades, and they didn't always get arrested. What's changed?

Tue May 21, 01:30:00 PM 2013  

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