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January 03, 2013

Zealotry Threatens Western Wall, Rabbi Says

Haredim back of heads kotel"Over the past few years, I have been under two simultaneous attacks: The conservative zealous camp is attacking me over the fact that I actively support bringing thousands of students and soldiers to the Western Wall, while the liberal zealous camp criticizes my firm stance against the attempts by members of the Women of the Wall group to undermine the Supreme Court's ruling, which upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallit prayer shawls, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall."

Haredim back of heads kotel

Zealotry threatens Western Wall
Op-ed: Liberal, conservative fanatics trying to turn Jerusalem holy site into ideological battleground
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz • Ynet
   
Over the past few years, I have been under two simultaneous attacks: The conservative zealous camp is attacking me over the fact that I actively support bringing thousands of students and soldiers to the Western Wall, while the liberal zealous camp criticizes my firm stance against the attempts by members of the Women of the Wall group to undermine the Supreme Court's ruling, which upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallit prayer shawls, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.

Both of these groups ask – in the name of religious tolerance – that I "take their feelings into consideration." One group urges me to avoid bringing non-religious groups to the Kotel, while the other wants me to allow its members to conduct controversial and unusual ceremonies at the holy site. In the name of tolerance, they are asking that I allow them to turn the Western Wall - maybe the only place that still unites all Jews – into an ideological battlefield.
 
One of the most insightful stories in the Babylonian Talmud tells of two Jews from Jerusalem – Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. Hatred and public humiliation push Bar Kamtza to devise a plan to take his revenge on all of Jerusalem's Jews by telling the Roman Caesar who controls the region that the Jews were rebelling against him. The Talmud describes how the great sages of Israel deal with Bar Kamtza's plot.
 
Seemingly, the sages were faced with an easy decision, but then a charismatic sage named Zechariah Ben Avkulas enters the picture and warns that any decision they make will be interpreted incorrectly and turn the nation against them. The sages heed his advice and do not take a stand – thus bringing upon Jerusalem the greatest disaster of all.
 
Rabbi Yochanan said: "The tolerance displayed by Zechariah Ben Avkulas in refusing to have Bar Kamtza put to death destroyed our Temple, burned down our Sanctuary and exiled us from our land."
 
This is how fanaticism operates. It asks for protection in the name of tolerance, then thrives and flourishes until it becomes too late to stop the devastation it brings on us all.
 
I'll say it loud and clear: As long as I am the Western Wall's rabbi, fanaticism will not establish a foothold at the site. The Kotel's stones can teach us about the price of zealotry.
 
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is the the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the holy sites

Haredi Rabbi Rabinowitz is creating a false dichotomy.

Put simply, the Wall, the Kotel, does not belong to the haredim. It does not now and it never did.

It belongs to the entire Jewish people.

Haredim insist that halakha should govern what goes on at the Kotel, but they ignore halakha that allows women to wear tallits or put on tefillin (Rashi's daughters did, for example).

Women can read from Torah scrolls for other women – especially in a place like the Kotel, where there is no normal women's section set up where women can easily hear a Torah reading and see what is going on.

In other words, women have halakha on their side.

But haredi men do not.

There is no accepted halakha that bans non-Orthodox men from going to a synagogue to pray, and the idea of banning the very soldiers who liberated the Kotel and who now guard it from also visiting it is obscene.

In truth, Rabinowitz has no real defense for his years of coddling his fellow haredim while he has egged police on, urging them to persecute any woman who dares to to try to pray as Rashi's own daughters did.

Yes, 99% of Orthodox women don't pray that way today – but halakha allows them to if they want to, and that's the point.

Yes, the High Court of Justice rules women can't do those things at the Kotel. But it did so to prevent haredi violence and it did so with the provision that the state set up a workable, equal situation for egalitarian prayer – but the state did not finish doing that. In fact, it barely started, making the High Court's ruling void.

There is nothing more disruptive at the Kotel than a Karliner minyan, a group of hasidim screaming – and I mean this literally – at the top of their lungs, completely unconcerned about who may be trying to pray normally nearby. They are disruptive in the extreme. They are violating explicit halakha. (But heck, it's okay because their rebbe did it.)

But Rabinowitz, his guards, and the police don't do anything about it.

Why?

Because Karliners are haredim and their customs – even when they violate explicit halakhot – are "holy."

But women who want to do what Rashi's daughters did?

In Rabinowitz's mind they're liberal "zealots" – or worse.

Rabinowitz's misogyny and the misogyny of the haredi 'gedolim' he answers to can't change the halakhic facts.

The truth is not on their side.

Comments

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I'll think you'll find that there is no historical evidence that Rashi's daughters wore Tefillin other women may have in medieval times and Rabbanu Tam allowed women to make a brachah for a mitzvah that they weren't obligated to do unlike sephardim. It's really a myth that surfaced fairly recently. However the Talmud explains that Michal the daughter of Saul and wife of king David wore them.

The destruction of the temple had a most salutory effect on the evolution of Judaism. Today, the best thing that can be done with regard to this "golden calf" which the kotel has become, is to tear it down and leave the space to the Muslims. Maybe then Jews will come to their senses and put an end to their idolatrous worship of sand and stone.

Hashem really knows how to throw a Churban! Leave just enough standing to keep the fire burning indefinitely - till we finally get this Sinas Chinam business under control. No wonder it's been two thousand years. Oddly enough, it's like, when all the Shmaryas have no more entries to post, and we have no more shitty comments to add, then maybe it will be time. I'm not holding my breath.

Johan - "salutary"

you know Shmarya (Scottie)--you are really one pathetic piece of useless shit. Whatever benefit your site does provide (the exposure of issues in the orthodox world) are completely nullified by the pathetic, and oh so obvious tainted bias. It removes ALL vestiges of credibility that you could potentially offer.
You really are one rotten, miserable and disgustingly fat pig of a human being (the fact that you became a chabadnik proves how stupid you really are)
Can you give us some insight into how come you're not married? one would think that there are hundreds of hot shiksa's just begging to swallow the cock of the incredible anti-orthodox blogger.
Like I said fat boy, you're pathetic.

Yep, Shlomo1 is right. The Rashi's daughters thing is just a myth with no source.

Which button do you push for 'flag disgusting comment and delete.'?

Dear Filipo,

You are a moron.

Yo Filipo - Shmarya's cool. If I had hundreds of hot shiksas begging for my boner I wouldn't be married either...

So what do you have at home waiting for you when you get home from maariv? Some ugly 300lb overgrown baggy-eyed slob with a gag reflex?

I love that he says others are zealots, but he alone stands for truth, justice, and the halakian way.

What a tzaddik. I am in awe of his presence.

So who died and made him God?

/sarcasm off

Filipo:

Ah, the hate of the bearded wonders who have hijacked a faith and then twisted it to exclude those that will not follow in their path while brainwashing adherents and proselytizing those weak and lost souls into believing the easy answers offered in return for blind obedience to a set of arbitrary rules and wizardry. In short Filipo, Shmarya has more than every right to attack you and your frum shit-bag friends, family and associates. You are not fucking holy. You are not Jews. You are filth. You ignore Halacha and twist your ignorance into new Halacha. Zealotry? If you are a Jewish zealot, then encourage Judaism, let those who want to commune with their G-d go to Kotel. Deny the women of the wall all you want shit-bag, they are the future, no matter how many piglets your semen repository (wife) can shit out every year.

@jewish john holmes: i doubt Shmarya has ever gotten laid. no woman would ever want to sleep (drunk or not) with a pig like him. he is the prototype of loser.
my wife ain't 300 pounds (yet!)

@alter kocker
Shmarya has every right to attack the frum. i have no problem with it at all. it's his pathetic bias that he tries to pawn off as fact that makes him useless. he never corrects any accusations when they turn out to be false or untrue. instead of simply reporting his discoveries in a proper fashion, he twists & turns them to fit his agenda.
I never said i was holy. I never even said I'm a Jew (I am) but I'm definitely not haredi--I work, I served in the army, I take my kids to places that aren't open on shabbat, i sit next to women on the bus, i shake their hands, i go to bars sometimes etc..............

Filipo, I'm not interested in what Shmarya (or anyone else)looks like nor in reading about it. Or in reading your abuse and obscenity-laden hysteria. Crawl back under your rock.

Your claim that women wearing talit is permitted is untrue. It is a "controversial and unusual ceremonies at the holy site." The Rema, Maharam and others disapprove of it. Also, contemporary rabbis like R' Moshe Feinstein and R' J. Soleveitchik also would not view it positively.

You know, Filipo, you've gotta give Shemarya his props. He let you post your diatribe instead of just deleting it. I once wrote a similar response to one of Avi Shafran's articles and he shut down his whole comments section.

Look, Shemarya makes no pretense about being an objective reporter. He has a well known agenda and his posts are selected (and occasionally manipulated) to fit that agenda. if you want objective news reporting, there are plenty of other blogs and sites that do that, or start your own. on the other hand, this is the place to go for a little laugh or to get your blood pressure up.

Posted by: Ray Kaufman | January 03, 2013 at 02:32 PM

I try to accurate report the truth. My reporting is accurate.

I don't do many positive stories on Orthodox Judaism because I lack the time and the resources to so them, and because the haredi and regular Jewish press is full of what amounts to press releases about the great works these Jewish orgs do.

The odd thing, though, is that when objective reporters actually decide to investigate, a lot of these press releases quickly seem to be a lot less than truthful.

And you wouldn't like it if I were to start checking those out, now would you?

Posted by: Shmarya | January 03, 2013 at 02:48 PM


Your entitled to post with any mission goal you want. That doesn't change the fact, that though your reasons may be justifiable, the image your blog presents is a slanted view of orthodoxy; That doesn't mean your reporting is untrue (and it is my impression that you are pretty reliable) just you don't offer balance.

Posted by: anti-agenda arguments | January 03, 2013 at 03:02 PM

Do you admit that VIN, Yeshiva World, Matzav, Hamodia, Der Yid, Der Blatt, The Algemeiner, etc., "don't offer balance"?

Posted by: Shmarya | January 03, 2013 at 03:12 PM

Absolutely. Some of those are an absolute farce.

There is nothing more disruptive at the Kotel than a Karliner minyan, a group of hasidim screaming – and I mean this literally – at the top of their lungs, completely unconcerned about who may be trying to pray normally nearby. They are disruptive in the extreme. They are violating explicit halakha. (But heck, it's okay because their rebbe did it.)

Coincidentally, I am a Carliner chossid. Like Reb George, I spend my days making sardonic remarks about society and politics, and often drop the f-bomb. However, when I am at the Kotel, I refrain from doing that, out of respect for my fellow humans.

This controversy is not about the right of women to wear taleisim and tefillin. Its about women provoking violent reactions by their behavior at the Kotel and the physical and spiritual harm arising from it. The Rav of the Kotel is totally justified in voicing his fears about sinas chinam and its consequences. The "Wall Women" think the Kotel is a scenario for pushing an agenda as if it were the Berkely or NYU campus

Let me see Filipo,,,you start with..."you are really one pathetic piece of useless shit....You really are one rotten, miserable and disgustingly fat pig of a human being..."

A true display of verbal diarrhea. The you go on and say..." I'm definitely not haredi--I work, I served in the army, I take my kids to places that aren't open on shabbat, i sit next to women on the bus, i shake their hands, i go to bars sometimes etc.............."

I know, I know, you missed your bipolar medications. By the way, poor kids, very miserable must they be, I am sure you treat them the same way you treat the host of this site when you get pissed off at them. Or perhaps you have a Napoleonic complex and want to compensate for your short stature? You caught your mom and dad having anal sex when you were 6? Your Rabbi sat you on his lap for too long while reciting mythical stories about Moses and all those fairy tales? Tell us, open to us. Let all that anger vent out. I can also think your intestines are connected through your mouth and not your anus, there is surgery for that. Whatever it is, get some help before you harm those poor kids of yours.

Maybe then Jews will come to their senses and put an end to their idolatrous worship of sand and stone.

Posted by: Johan Viljoen | January 03, 2013 at 12:42 AM

Not to mention those poor fools that visit their dead Rebbe's graves to talk to them and ask for favors.

The "Wall Women" think the Kotel is a scenario for pushing an agenda as if it were the Berkely or NYU campus

Posted by: spacedout BT | January 03, 2013 at 09:13 PM

What is their agenda - protesting the Haredi monopoly of the Wall and engaging in practices in which halakha permits them to engage?

Should Heschel and King not have marched on Selma because segregation was legal then?

Yes, Shemarya, you do occasionally post items that are complementary but do you deny that you have a bias? I read a variety of Jblogs from Right to left, mostly to pass the time. They all have their own agendas and biases. Hey, it's okay to have a point of view. Don't deny your prejudices, embrace them. I disagree with many of your positions, agree with some of them and often find your attitude and demeanor smugly obnoxious. Nevertheless, I read your blog regularly and find it occasionally informative and usually entertaining. Keep up the good (?) work.

Haredi Rabbi Rabinowitz is creating a false dichotomy.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Kudos to Shmarya for exposing the fallacy of this guy's "argument" in his clear-eyed post.

In response to those criticizing Shmarya for his lack of objectivity in this post:

Note that Shmarya does not present this as piece of original reportage (he does not sign his name/site to a byline, and adheres to his usual practice of using offset text to indicate the article/op-ed he is commenting upon). Rather, it is very clearly a critique--and an incisive one, at that--by Shmarya of this other guy's opinion piece.

The Rabbi calls the actions of the Women of the Wall movement "controversial and unusual". This isn't a matter of keeping the wall 'holy'. This all comes down to Orthodoxy's vile hatred of women.

Jeff- you miss my whole point. If the Chareidim only ignored the Wall Women- eventually the latter would go away. Instead the "religious zealots" scream and throw chairs- hence the Rav's letter voicing his legitimate fears that someone will get hurt.Jeff -either the Kotel is our holiest place of worship or its Columbia University 1968- your choice.

Jeff -either the Kotel is our holiest place of worship or its Columbia University 1968- your choice.

Posted by: spacedout BT | January 05, 2013 at 09:09 PM

Fine, but what the women are doing isn't "unholy". As Shmarya keeps pointing out, they're doing what they are entitled, halakhically, to do. If the bearded wonders don't like it, they can look the other way.

It always comes down to this: they think they own Judaism, and they deign to tolerate the rest of us as long as we recognize their inherent superiority and support them financially. I'm sick of it.

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