Op-Ed: The Off the Wall Women
Boris KarshinovThe writer is an international educator, teaching and training teachers around the world. His real name is known to the editors.
This month, the Women of the Wall – perhaps better, Women off the Wall – enjoyed a hollow victory. Secluded by the police, the video cameras captured how genuinely devote they really are. Many women spent their time tweeting and taking photos. Their generally disorderly behavior contrasts strongly with last month’s pictures of the religious young girls praying with sincerity and devotion. Did these women really come to pray or to tweet? The scene looked more like a market-place.
We need to thank the leaders of WoW for turning the spotlight on the Reform Movement and enabling us to see its real nature.
First, we must distinguish between the actions of the WoW group and the male hreidi individuals who became violent last month. The latter were acting against the instructions of the Rabbanim through misguided zealousness or perhaps just to have some ‘fun’.
In contrast, leaders of Wow are official officers of the Reform Movement and are acting with their full approval. For 24 years they have been deliberately provoking those praying at the Wall
They have succeeded in showing that the Reform Movement is morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest, manipulative and plain deceitful. One of the videos showed an interview with 3 young women studying at the Movement's Jerusalem theological college (even though one of their leaders declared that the Reform Movement has no theology) to become ‘rabbis’. Clearly, the girls are sincere. They should go to Neve Yerushalayim or Aish Hatorah women's programs to get a taste of the real thing.
Interestingly, there were no significant comments or talkbacks attempting to refute any of the points I raised against the Reform Movement in my last article, or indeed in any of my other articles on the WoW’s.
The WoW claim that they need to don what is traditionally male ritual apparel to enhance their connection with G-d.
In reality, the feelings of ‘spiritual’ elation the women have when they engage in these practices are purely psychological.
Firstly because throughout the ages, apart form extremely rare exceptions, women have never sought spiritual enhancement through wearing tallis and tefillin, and never through making their own "minyanim" and reading from the Torah. This would mean that these are not the ways that G-d wants women to use if they want to come closer to Him.
Throughout the ages, many pious and G-fearing women have sought ways to elevate their service to G-d, but, except for a few, in the privacy of their homes, never did they choose these means, Do the motley crowd, led by feminists and members of the Reform Movement, many of them immodestly dressed, really believe that they are more righteous than our glorious female ancestors?
Secondly, many of the women are not wearing their tallit and tefillin correctly. True, they are adorning themselves with these artifacts, but they are not doing so in such a way as to be performing any mitzvot. A bar mitzva boy at the Wall, after being taught painstakingly where and how to place the tefillin headpiece (it is even on the internet, like everything else),, noticed that some of the tefillin were put on wrong and, as is absolutely not allowed, covered the women's foreheads..What, exactly, does wearing tefillin mean to these women, if they can't be bothered to put them on properly?
For 24 years they have been kidding themselves that they are doing mitzvot, that they have been reaching new levels of inspiration and coming closer to G-d and enhancing their prayers – and it has all been a joke.
Thirdly, many of the women are not covering their hair as Judaism demands and/or dressing according to the halakhic code of modesty and it is then forbidden for them and others near them to wear tefillin.
Furthermore, it is not they way of a modest Jewish woman to dance, pray and sing loudly in public and in a situation when men can see or hear her, that, too, is not the Torah's way.
Jonathan Rosenblum quotes the following incident. “Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the preeminent Modern Orthodox thinker, made this point once to a woman who sought his permission to wear a tallit while praying. He told her she should first try wearing a four-cornered garment without the tzizit. She returned to Rabbi Soloveitchik after three-months and told him that her prayers had never been so inspired and exhilarating.
He pointed out that her exhilaration came from an act that he had told her to perform, but which had no halakhic significance, and then forbade her from wearing a tallit. Rabbi Soloveitchik's point was that an emphasis on the subjective emotional experience reflects a pagan, not Jewish, approach to prayer. Jewish prayer takes place only within the context of the Divine command”.
In other words, all this so-called inspiration is a complete canard and has nothing to do with serving G-d.
Thank you, Anat. You and your friends have done a great job. You have succeeded in getting publicity and having the Kotel barred to religious worshipers on the first day of the New Month.
But a five year old, praying quietly at the Kotel with her religious Zionist mother on the first day of the Hebrew month, said it best. She took one look at the self-titled Women of the Wall and asked innocently, as chldren do: "Why are they dressing up as men?"