Political Posturing at the Western Wall

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7 Responses

  1. therapydoc says:

    This feels more than political, to me, although it is a group seeking attention, and from what I’m hearing, the objective is to influence others. Other women theoretically would feel the power, the closeness to HaKodesh BaruchHu, somehow empathize with W0W, want to join in. But when I say it feels like more than politics, it is because it feels like real narcissism here, and even abuse,  when a group disturbs an assembly of prayer. It is an unspoken, universal law, that prayer is like meditation. It should put us into a different place, a calmer place, which is hard to do when there are strange voices shouting at us. I’ll try to research W0W, being out of the loop on their goals and objectives. But one thing for sure, many women bless their children on Friday night, I know I certainly did, and I felt that my blessing had power, at least hoped so, and I didn’t feel the need for much more. And I’m a Bas Kohen.


  2. Steve Brizel says:

    One recognizes the “usual suspects” among the members of the feminist choir who are engaged in their behavior solely as a means of effectuating their own agenda, and who have been so since the rise of feminism in the early 1970s. Some comments are needed with respect to the “usual suspects” who are still obsessed with power and who have little, if no respect for the vast majority of women who reject their POV:

    1)Feminism is an ideology rooted in the destruction of the conventional family. It is against the conventional family, and promotes all of the values and lifestyles that have become “accepted” in the secular world.

    2)There neither is a chiyuv nor a kiyum of Talmud Torah when a woman learns Gemara, and that Rachel was viewed as a far more positive role model than Bruryiah. That is because of a simple reason-Moshe Rabbeinu spent 40 days and 40 nights in Ameilus BaTorah with HaShem Yisborach so that the TSBP would be transmitted to future generations, Miriam Neviah did not-why-another simple reason-women rejected the call of the Maaseh HaEgel and Mered HaMeraglim-Men joined both rebellions-Mitzvos Aseh SheHazeman Grama were given to men specifically to remind them on a daily basis and at specific times during the year so as to remind them of their duties as Jewish men that they had rejected. Furthermore, the institutions that promote womens’ learning cannot separate women’s learning from change in women’s roles and are breeding grounds for feminists in the worst sense of the word and many of whom do not dress in manners consistent with Tznius.

    3) We see a total lack of respect for the rights of those who differ and a demand that the “space” of feminists be accomodated. Once again, we see the perceived demands of feminists taking precedence over the rights of those who are adhering to the traditonal roles of women at prayer solely for the shock value of the act.

    • dr. bill says:

      You write: 2)There neither is a chiyuv nor a kiyum of Talmud Torah when a woman learns Gemara, and that Rachel was viewed as a far more positive role model than Bruryiah.

      No chiyuv is the normative psak; no kiyum IS NOT.  Had you said “not as great a kiyum,” i would understand, but NO Kiyum – wow.  and your supporting drush even if valid is not how halakha is derived.  WRT Bruryah (and Rachel), I would have to resort to academic methods, which I hardly think you would take seriously.


      • Steve Brizel says:

        No chiyuv means exactly no chiyuv-no ifs, ands and buts. Let me be even clearer-no woman who learns TSBP has anywhere near a kiyum as a man because a woman is aino mtzuveh in the mitzvah of Talmud Torah . What you call a supporting Drush is hardly so,  but rather simple Pshat. Miriam HaNeviah did not spend 40 days and nights in Ameilus BaTorah with HaShem.

      • dr. bill says:

        Without admitting your obvious error when you claim that A is zero, now you assert that B is MUCH bigger than A.  The talmud records a debate if A is bigger than B or B is bigger thanA, concluding that B is bigger than A.  You however assert that B is MUCH bigger than A.  I still wonder on what such certainty is based?  Does your insight exceed that of the chachmai hatalmud? 

  3. Charlie Kalech says:

    With all due respect, Rabbi Menken and Rabbi Lerner, some statements in this article are factually incorrect:

    I never took a Torah out of the men’s section, nor did I “break through” the mechiza. I was only detained after I went to the police to press charges against an employee of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation who physically assaulted me indeed breaking both State law and Halacha. My detainment was a nuisance meant to intimidate me after I pressed charges against the authorities responsible for the Kotel. There is no law against what I did so the only charge they could come up with was disturbing the public order which was bogus and never pursued since there was no objection to what happened until twenty minutes after my role when the so-called ushers of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation did indeed violently break through the mechitza injuring me and another man. Not to worry though, the police defended the legal right of women to read from the Torah as established by the Israel Supreme Court and stopped the violence initiated by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation against their fellow Jews.

    One need only to watch the video which is online in numerous places to see that I never left the men’s section and that your portrayal of what I did is factually inaccurate.

    All that being said, it saddens me that you fail to recognise that there have been Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis who have supported WOW’s practices of a women’s tefilla in the Ezrat Nashim of the Kotel in which the women conduct tfillot for themselves, read Torah and those who so chose wear Tallit and Tfillin. In contrast I know of no Orthodox rabbi who supports birkat cohanot, the Masorti Movement has paskined against it and the Reform Movement has called it irrelevant with no place in a modern prayer services.

    How you can draw a parallel between these in light of this contrast is surprising and only displays ignorance and the disconnect between you and the majority of world Jewry. It is this divide in Klal Yisrael and the fallacies you promote which make me sad and mourn the damage such divisiveness causes.

    There has never been monolithic Halacha. The Talmuud is full of differing opinions. Hillel and Shamai rarely agreed. Why can you not accept halachic opinions which differ from your own? In my opinion, this is nothing short of hubris putting yourselves above the Tnaim and their example and advice for how to live with your fellow Jews.

    I look forward to the day when we learn to live together in mutual respect. Until then, perhaps you can start gathering the feathers you have spread according to Rabbi Levi Yitzhak’s (the Berdichever Rabbi’s) parable and turn your energy towards fixing the shlemut of Ein Sof instead of perpetuating and deepening His brokenness.

    Charlie Kalech
    March 30, 2016

    • Yaakov Menken says:

      It would appear that Charlie Kalech’s first dispute is not with us, but rather with the news media, including the extremely WoW-friendly HaAretz which referred to him at the time as “detained… for passing a Torah scroll from the men’s section of the Western Wall to members of a feminist prayer group,” and the JPost, which said he was arrested for “incitement after passing a Torah to a member of WoW.” We did not say that he personally took the Torah out of the men’s section, but rather that he took one of the Torah scrolls from the men’s section and gave it to WoW. It is possible that accomplices opened the barrier for him, but those are not identified.

      It is interesting that Kalech refers to Hillel and Shammai to somehow buttress his assertion that there was never such a thing as “monolithic” halachah; in reality, their disagreements prove the opposite. The Talmud records that the Halachah follows Hillel in all cases (with several exceptions, as recorded in Mishnah Shabbos 1:4), so much so that Shammai is “ayno Mishnah,” not the correct teaching and not to be followed. His statement that Hillel and Shammai “rarely agreed” is, of course, fiction; the Mishnah only records their disagreements, not the 99.999% of Jewish thought upon which they agreed absolutely. When one has no real knowledge of Talmud, it is unfortunately quite easy to derive from the Tanaim an “example and advice” diametrically opposed to their actual position: that there is, of course, a single correct Halachic decision in all matters, clouded by our imperfect and declining understanding and memory, factors which eventually forced Torah Sheba’al Peh to be committed to writing.

      Kalech exhibits the misapprehension regarding Halacha of one in the Conservative movement. As I discussed recently, that movement unearths “Halachic opinions” that enable it to follow Reform’s lead; the Reform, the movement that funds WoW and its leader, Anat Hoffman (she who once campaigned to keep the Orthodox out of Jerusalem), does not believe in any form of Halachah.

      So that is sufficient basis upon which to point out that there are no “halachic opinions which differ” under discussion here. That is simply a red herring, as the conflict created by WoW is unrelated to halachic opinions of whatever variety. It is about the introduction of a political campaign for feminism into a place of prayer. The idea of “birkat kohanot” is completely consistent with the statements of WoW leaders which Kalech sidesteps rather than addressing.

      His comment is thus merely another attempt to hide WoW’s true agenda, and more is the pity.

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