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Feb 9, 2023

tzniyus at the Kotel

Today's big hullabaloo is that MK Aryeh Deri (Shas) is pushing forward the law proposal to mandate modesty at the Kotel, along with regulating prayer services. According to Deri's law proposal, anyone at the Kotel not dressed modestly will be arrested with the punishment of up to 6 months in prison. Same for wearing tefillin or tallis in the womens section and for taking a Torah scroll into the women's section or conducting mixed services in the area. Additionally, no speeches, signs, musical instruments or playng music at the Kotel, all punishable by up to 6 months in prison.

I had my say about this two weeks ago when the idea was just floated, but now MK Deri has decided to advance this law and supposedly, according to news reports, has agreement for support among all coalition members, even ones who spoke out against it, at least to pass its first reading. 

It is going to be laws like this that will at some point bring down the government. the extreme right or extreme religious members of the coalition are going to keep pushing crazy laws like this. At some point Netanyahu will say no. He'll probably freeze this one as well after the first passing. The Likud doesn't want it, Likud voters don't want it, and Netanyahu doesn't want it, but he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Right now he has to give Deri this little victory, but at some point he wont be able to continue advancing these types of laws and at some point that will cause a coalition crisis.

The unofficial tzniyus police of Mea Shearim never worked out well for anyone. I wonder if this can turn out any differently even though it will be official. I would be curious what type of reaction this law, if it will pass, will cause among the people. Will there be some form of protest with so many choosing to stay away from the Kotel? Will we see the annual slichos during Elul with much smaller crowds of people with much less participation of the traditional and non-religious? Will we see a form of protest of thousands going tot he Kotel in attire that does not meet the laws of tzniyus -women wearing pants and short sleeves and the like and daring the police to arrest thousands of women? or will the people just accept it and behave accordingly? If someone does get arrested, say a woman for wearing slacks at the Kotel, will she be able to defend herself in court with her lawyer claiming that her rabbi says these pants are allowed for women, even if other rabbis say they cant be? Are we going to have secular judges deciding what Jewish law should and shouldn't include?

Is this entirely to be directed at women or will this be enforced against men as well - no shorts perhaps? shirts with no sleeves will get you arrested? Will this cause an uprising of the women, having a law passed just against them?

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