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Nov 19, 2015

will the women light the Chanukah candles this year?

Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel has been relatively quiet recently. I won't say it has been without incident, but it has been much quieter. After it leading the headlines time and again every month for a long period of time, we suddenly hear hardly anything about it.

I guess to make up for the quiet a new front seems to be opening. Chanukah.

3 female MKs, Michal Rozin, Tamar Zandberg, and Kasanya Svetlova, have sent a letter to Rav Shmuel Rabinovitch, rav of the Kotel, requesting that he include women in the menora-lighting ceremonies.

In their letter, they reference the fact that at the yearly lighting ceremonies he honors MKs, important people and many other people, all being men, with lighting the menora by the Kotel. There is no menora-lighting in the women's section. They ask for inclusion and to have women lighting the menora as well, considering that both men and women are obligated in lighting chanukah candles.

To me this looks like a winning argument, considering the argument he always makes against womens minyonim, tefillin and torah reading is that they aren't obligated so their motives are questionable and it is an attempted provocation. In this case, women are obligated the same way men are, so that argument cannot be used against them.

Rav Rabinovitch responded by saying that this request, made by external organizations that are extremists, is an attempt to damage the efforts being made to come to a solution that will be acceptable to all the various streams. He calls the request to have a Chanukah lighting ceremony in the women's section nothing but a provocation to derail those talks rather than to help find a solution for everyone.
source: NRG

I think Rabbi Rabinovitch should have told them that married women are not supposed to light (according to some opinions, largely accepted in some frum circles), as they are part of the lighting of their husbands. I wonder how well that would have gone over.

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  1. "In this case, women are obligated the same way men are, so that argument cannot be used against them."

    Wrong. Women and men are equally obligated to light -- at home. No one, men or women, fulfill their obligation with lighting at the kotel.

    What is fulfilled is the minhag of lighting for the public in a shul. (The kotel being like a shul -- a place set aside for tefillah.) The lighting is a public lighting. And that is something that should be done by men, as for all public mitzvos.

  2. Why not do what is done in america (and i presume the rest of the world). Public menorah lighting ceremonies have a non jew (often politicians) hold a candle ceremoniously, and then the rav host (or theoretically any jew) do the actual lighting.

    Its done all the time this way. Even for femalepoliticians.


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