May 31, 2018

Chabad or Women of the Wall

In light of the recent tefillin incident in the airport in Israel in which a lady (turned out to be a professor of multi-cultural society studies) berated a Chabadnik for helping someone lay tefillin and also acted extremely childlishly and the overwhelming support offered by the public, both frum and not, for the Chabadnik as being in a public space and having the right to do what he did without bothering anybody, there is still what to consider.

A post in The Times of Israel blogs raised an interesting issue that should cause us all to take pause for a moment and consider our actions and responses. The post compared our reactions, the reactions of most people being the same, to this incident in which we all told her that it is a public space and she should mind her own business and they have just as much a right to be there and do their thing as she, and between our reactions to the fairly regular incidents at the Kotel of women, led by Women of the Wall, putting on tefillin and reading from the Torah and the reaction of Haredi people nearby and the reactions of people around the world who see the images.

When confronted with the Chabadnik putting tefillin on someone we said he is in a public space and has the right to do so, with a willing partner, and they should be left alone. Why is it that so many of us do not say the same thing regarding the Women of the Wall at the Kotel? They are putting on tefillin in a public space, everyone else should mind their own business - whether you like what they are doing or not/ Scream at them and whistle at them to disturb and harass them? What makes you, or us, any better than this childish professor in the airport?

I am open to hearing reasoned explanations as to what the differences are, as to why we can support the Chabadnik's rights but not the rights of Women of the Wall.


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15 comments:

  1. Man of the WallMay 31, 2018 2:15 PM

    It's pretty simple. The Kotel is the remnant and holy place where Jewish people have prayed for millenia. It is a synagogue, albeit in an open space. No one would walk into a mosque and offer prayers that would offend the minhag hamakom. An airport is a public space where any person can practice any religion any way they want.

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    Replies
    1. Jews have prayed at the Kotel for less than a thousand years. The Kotel has been treated as a beit knesset for less than a hundred.

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  2. It's even simpler: people are hypocrites.

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  3. If people would ignore the Women of the Wall, no one would notice them. They come for a half hour once a month in a space that can generally be a balagan?

    Of course, if people would ignore them, they probably wouldn't even show up in the first place.

    But that's a bit too complex reasoning for some.

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    1. WoW has existed for many years, but the controversy is much more recent. I think you will find that it started soon after the current head (I forget her name) took over. She's a Reform Jew and an extreme feminist. For her, it's all about making a scene. If she and her acolytes moved on, WoW would probably return to being a small group of women who daven together.

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    2. People have been yelling and throwing things at WoW for at least twenty five years.

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  4. Hareidim believe that the WOTW wear tefillin to declare that Talmudic law is a misogynistic perversion of Mosaic law. Alternatively (and it may not really be alternative, merely variations on a theme,) they believe that to be true and moral, Judaism must be egalitarian, that religious distinction between men and women is immoral.
    The point is that what they do is an intentional insult to our mesora, done is as public as possible a fashion davka to antagonize and ridicule.
    It's hard to know absolutely what motivates people. It's invariably complex. Even your reflexive scoffer, Avi, might really be a yarei shamayim under all that nonsense. So there might be a few innocents that do not want to tear down our mesora, that sincerely want to wear tefillin in a holy place. I doubt it, but it's possible.

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    1. Being a Yarei Shomaim and being Charedi have nothing to do with each other.

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    2. Reflexive, as usual. Someone must think they're related, though, considering that the words are synonymous. Still, as with many of your assertions, there is a little glimmer of truthiness there.

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    3. There are those who are Yarei Shomaim. There are those who are Charedi. There are those who are both. There are those who are neither. It's simple set theory.

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    4. Simplistic. Hareidim recognize that yiras shamayim should be the central and defining virtue aspired to. For many, the aspiration is more ostensible than sincere, and many fail. That's why the epithet Hareidim. Ultimately, the only measure of success is the percentage that are true ye'rei'ei shamayim. What the percentages are? Only God knows.

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  5. People who get publicly upset or even violent towards the women at the wall are giving them publicity that they need and are causing a Chilul HaShem and are not that different from the woman in this video.

    However there is a difference between the airport and the kotel. Each is administrated by a body that has rules about what can and can't be done there. The airport authority allows travelers to lay tfillin in that part of the airport. The Kotel authority does not permit women to read from the Torah at the location the WOW use (although they can 20 meters further south if they wanted).

    If WOW carried out their activity at an area where they are allowed to do so, I doubt that there would be much objection (Women read from the Torah in the Ezrat Yisrael area every week and no one seems to care)

    WOW run Tfillin stands in other parts of the country where such actions are permitted (my daughter was approached in tel Aviv recently), and they get almost no publicity as no one cares about what they do in a public space any more than most people care about cahbadnikim at the airport or other public spaces.

    If the chabanik had been doing an activity forbidden by the airport authority, e.g., making the rounds in a business lounge, the woman would have been within her rights to ask them to stop (although there are more polite ways to do it than what is shown in the video)

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  6. I cant understand why you dont see the obvious difference.

    The chabad incident was a private act between two people (albeit in a public area)

    The WOW activity is NOT a private act. They are acting with the aim to make a public point and to change israeli religious society (as they state themselves)

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  7. Agree with Aba. But the main point is that Chabad is trying to bring Jews back to their roots, which is incumbent upon us, the Jewish people, to bring our brothers closer to H' in this assimilated world. The WOW are a bunch of whacko women who have an agenda and are desecrating a site which the Jewish people and even the rest of world hold sacred. They are going against the rules of the Site and are purposely disrupting and defiling the Site for their political agenda, which is s 'trying to deJudaize Israel'. There is no question here - by now, most understand that. There is a tremendous difference between these characters and, l'havdil, the mitzvah the Chabad is doing for Am Yisraael!

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  8. The WOW have to publicize their events, cause it supports their speaking tours fundraising tours throughout the US. How to discourage them (active or passive) is another story.

    This particular Dr P is another story. She was yelling 'lishmah' out of hatred of religion (Jewish, not Muslim; if they would have pulled out a prayer mat, she probably would have swept the area and made room for them.)

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