Op-Ed: The Real Thugs at the Wall
Boris KarshinovThe writer is an international educator, teaching and training teachers around the world. His real name is known to the editors.
People disgusted by the thuggish behavior of hareidim at the Wall last month on Rosh Chodesh are actually victims of a 24-year-old plan prepared by the self-titled Women of the Wall. For 24 years they have been waving a red flag in front of the Jewish bull.
First, some basic information.
Women of the Wall is a group of women led mainly - but not only - by members of the Reform Movement.
The Reform Movement has four core beliefs.
They believe that the Torah is a composite document authored by many writers over a period of many years. This belief is still based on the work of the Bible critics even though the claims were disproved over 100 years ago.
They believe that as long as one acknowledges the ethical basis of commandments, mitzvot, there is no obligation to actually do them.
They believe that a person has the choice to do whatever he feels is right and appropriate for himself.
They believe that much of the Torah, halakha and Jewish customs is neither relevant nor suitable for the modern world. Therefore, they reject concepts such as sacrifices, a third Temple, marriage and divorce as set out in the Torah, the special status of Israel, the Messiah as an individual, Judaism's defnition of the special role of women, and much more.
The Reform Movement has only a superficial similarity to Judaism as practised through the ages, so that it is not always regarded as a form of Judaism.
Nowadays, there is doubt about how many members of the Reform movement are halakhically Jewish. As far back as 80 years ago, membership in the Reform Movement was not a guarantee of being halakhically Jewish, years before the Reform Movement began to encourage mixed-marriages and decided to regard children of only a Jewish father as being Jewish. Halakha defines the mother as the parent who passes the status of belonging to the Jewish people on to her children.
The Reform Movement has no attraction for Christians or Muslims and the only way they can swell their membership is to appear as if they are a valid form of Judaism. So they try to seem like one.
Outwardly, they present themselves as bona fide branch of Judaism, though their basic creed is almost bereft of any similarity to Judaism. So, if you do a search for the Reform Movement, you will see that their sites present themselves as if they follow all the Jewish mitzvos. For example, you will see that some sites present Shavuot as being the festival of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai – which clearly contradicts one of their core beliefs. Perhaps this is in the spirit of being "all things to all men,” as it says in Corinthians.
That brings us to the tactics of the Women of the Wall. According to Reform ideology, the Wall has no sanctity; there is no obligation to wear a tallit or tefillin or to cover the head, nor to read from the Torah, most of which is irrelevant and non-binding.
Overtly, Anat Hoffman is a sincere person who, with others, wants to assert her right to pray at the Wall the way she feels is appropriate. She and her group assert that they are fighting for the right of women to pray at the Wall – even though hundreds, thousand of women pray there regularly. They assert that they are fighting for pluralism – tolerance for diverse groups to pray freely at the Wall - even though it is a common sight to see all sorts of people from all sorts of religions praying freely at the Wall.
As such, her group has aroused much sympathy from the media and in Western countries. The antagonism of Israel's rabbinate is interpreted as being undemocratic and as stifling the valid feelings of the women and preventing them from being able to serve Hashem in the way they wish. Their supporters quote various religious authorities who do permit women to wear tallit and tefillin, that women are not permitted to don at the Kotel for group prayer..
But their leaders are playing a double-faced game. Three of them have admitted in public that they are using WoW as a tactic to undermine the authority of Orthodox Judaism.
In an interview with the BBC, Anat Hoffman, leader of the Women of the Wall, revealed her true identity and purpose, which is to undermine the authority of the halakha- and gain recognition for Reform clergy, conversions, weddings and divorces.
This allows for a more accurate analysis of her motives..
--She chooses the Wall because it is an emotional backdrop and a perfect setting for her activities.
Note: The Official 1999 statement of the Progressive Rabbis in Israel’s attitude to the Wall is "One should not consider the Western Wall as possessing any sanctity. . . The approach of the Progressive Jew towards worship and prayer is opposed to any renewal of the Temple, opposed to the restoration of sacrificial worship. . . . The Western Wall does not represent Jewish cleaving to Hashem nor the experience of prayer nor Jewish thought for our times." They have the same attitude to wearing tallit and tefillin.
--She chooses the first day of the new month, Rosh Chodesh, for her ‘service’ because in Jewish tradition, on that day women have a special status. At the time of the sin of the Golden Calf, they remained faithful to G-d and his servant Moshe and resisted the temptation to worship the idol.
Is she remaining faithful to Moses and the Torah he passed on to us from G-d? Is she continuing the tradition of those brave women in her daily life? Of course, she is not. In fact, she is denigrating the Torah and fighting a war against its authority and sanctity. So why is she choosing that day? Because she is using it to ensnare women to follow her.
--She looks forward to reading the Megillah because the heroine is a woman – Esther – even though Esther was totally and traditionally observant and submitted to the authority of a male rabbi – Mordecai. But that does not worry Anat because the idea of Esther appeals to women, so she includes it.
This past Rosh Chodesh, the Women of the Wall came late, and, instead of praying at the outside of the gathering, they violently pushed their way into the midst of hundreds of devoutly praying women, and proceeded to pray in loud voices, disturbing all those around them. That prayer session clearly shows elements of deliberate provocation, totally unfitting at the holy Wall and contradicting their claim that they only want to pray in peace.
When leaving the Wall, pious, sincere Jewish women would have left in a subdued state, deeply saddened by the ensuing rioting. However, if you look at a video showing how they left, you will see they left, singing and dancing, offending the feelings of those who had come to pray. Their faces were glowing with victory, because at last, after 24 years of inciting, they had been successful in causing a riot which they knew would be posted all over the world showing how the hareidim are behaving badly.
Furthermore, if praying at the Wall is so dear to them, where are they during the other days of the month?
And anyway, to change an arrangement which satisfies hundredes of thousands of people who frequent the Wall every day, just to accommodate the demands of less than a hundred unreasonable women who come just for an hour a month is clearly undemocratic.
Why unreasonable? Because they have received many offers which would defuse the situation and they reject all of them. Why do they reject them? Because they want to achieve maximum provocation.
As Anat herself said last December, "I want to see and be seen." These are not the words of a modest, sincere Jewish woman who only wants to talk to G-d as she sees fit.
So, my friends, if you feel sympathy for the '"Women of the Wall'"and feel disgusted by the behavior of the “hareidim”, you have fallen into their trap.