Rabbanit Tzviya Eliyahu, widow of the venerated Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ztz”l, hit hard Thursday at the Women of the Wall and vowed that they would not be allowed to “desecrate” the Kotel in a provocative prayer session planned for Sunday.
"This is a very serious matter,” she told Arutz Sheva, regarding the idea of women's praying with tallit and tefillin, which are traditionally only worn by men. The Women of the Wall make a point of praying with these accessories, in a group prayer that flies in the face of the traditional customs in force at the Kotel and is offensive to most of the women who pray there all the time. Women do not form a quorum in Jewish law and pray individually or join the prayers of a men's quorum from their side of a divider.
"They have gone completely mad,” she said. “They want to enter through the back door, but it won't happen. They cannot come with tallit and tefillin, it's as simple as that. We will not let them do it; they will not defile the place. It is very bad that the police and courts are defending them. The public does not agree to this. It is not democracy, it is democtatorship.”
"If they are Jewish women and not an erev rav of all stripes and colors, then let them come and pray like everyone, but without tallit and tefillin,” she said. The expression 'erev rav' refers to Egyptians and other non-Jews who, according to tradition, joined the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, and later exerted a negative influence on the nation.
Rabbanit Eliyahu does not accept the claims that the Women of the Wall are not Reform Jews. “Today they have one foot here and tomorrow they have the other foot there. If they come with tallit and tefillin and this kind of nonsense, it is just a provocation. We do not accept this. The Kotel is a holy place and there is no room in it for Reformism or Reformists.”
She repeated that the Women of the Wall must be prevented from praying at the Kotel with tallit and tefillin.
Blessings on the Torah are forbidden to women halakhically, but a woman whose synagogue does not object may don a prayer shawl and tefillin if she wishes to do so on an individual basis. It is a rare occurrence and not allowed at the Kotel which has rules that were chosen to reflect that its holiness stems from ancient times