Readers weigh in – once more – on the Women of the Wall
Sir, – With regard to “Women detained at Western Wall again, as more details of
Sharansky’s proposal emerge” (April 12), isn’t the women’s section of the Kotel
designated for women? Why can’t women congregate there monthly, don tallitot
(prayer shawls), sing the Hallel prayer and chant from the Torah? After all,
they are behind a huge mehitza (gender barrier) where they cannot be seen by
They certainly can’t be heard over the din of all that noise in the
men’s section. Besides, any man with X-ray vision or supersonic hearing who
finds the women’s presence distracting can certainly take himself over to the
opposite end of the expansive men’s section or enter the tunnel, where he can
pray totally undisturbed.
The so-called Women of the Wall don tallitot,
not bathing suits. They are dressed modestly.
As an observant woman, I
think it is admirable that so many women of whatever persuasion take the time
and trouble to daven at the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh mornings. They should be
welcomed with loving-kindness, flowers and perhaps a kiddush.
they are greeted with insults and subject to arrest.
Creating a special
space for them out of Robinson’s Arch is to set them apart from all the other
women praying at the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh. That is intolerant and
Let us not forget the teachings of the rabbis. The Second Temple
was destroyed not because of a lack of observance of mitzvot – it was destroyed
because of baseless hatred.
It is time for all women who pray at the
Western Wall to practice Tikkun Olam – embrace their sisters, welcome them, wish
them a good month and pray together for the rebuilding of the Third
SARAH PEARL Jerusalem
Sir, – I am very puzzled about the uproar
over women wearing tallitot when they pray at the holy Western Wall.
it halachically forbidden for them to don tallitot? From my limited
understanding, women are free from any positive commandment that is
Since donning a prayer shawl is a day-time mitzva, women do
not have to wear them. Similarly, women are not commanded to eat in a succa or
pray within a certain hour, although they are allowed and even encouraged to.
Why is a tallit different? Even more puzzling is the reaction of the men at the
Western Wall. If these very sincere and pious men are offended by women wearing
tallitot, how in the world do they know what the women are wearing? If they are
praying with intention and depth, how can they peer over and through the
mehitza? Further, what constitutes a “female” tallit? If a man has a tallit with
light colors and perhaps a border of flowers or plants, or an embroidery of
Jerusalem or other lovely scenes, should he be arrested for wearing a female
tallit? I don’t think so.
I do to some extent understand the possible
challenge to men to concentrate on their prayers while hearing the beautiful
voices of women singing.
There might even be some who are not only
distracted, but very sexually aroused. I believe that women should be protective
of them to not cause them shame.
TZILIA SACHAROW Jerusalem
Sir, – One
must marvel at the insistence of some Orthodox circles to alienate the rest of
Israel, even when no halachic principle is really involved.
12th-Century ascetic Hasidei Ashkenaz, contrary to Halacha, objected to
menstruating women even entering the synagogue. Nevertheless, a woman can wear a
tallit and tefillin (phylacteries), even if she is exempted from commandments
that are time-related.
Tradition claims that Princess Michal, daughter of
King Saul, wore a tallit (See B. Erubin 96a).
Rashi’s daughters almost
certainly wore tallitot, and down through the ages there have been pious women
who wore tallitot, and even tefillin.
The general attitude seems to have
been that such unusual practices were not to be encouraged, but if a woman was
moved to do so, the rabbis did not make it an issue and even felt she was
rewarded for performing the mitzva voluntarily.
For example, see Sefer
Hahinuch, Commandment 426.
I admit that I would feel better if the Women
of the Wall were moved more by piety than by a feminist effort to “stick it to
the rabbis.” As an observant Jew I wish that all those ladies from Meretz would
really be there to daven. However, as our sages felt, let us wish that their
performing a mitzva for some ulterior purpose leads to their performing mitzvot
for their own sake.
Let them wear the garb of haredim, if it pleases
them. It should not be anyone’s business, as long as they are appropriately
dressed for a holy site.
The objections are just more stringencies that
are superfluous in light of the black eye inflicted on the image of Torah
HAYIM GRANOT Petah Tikva
Sir, – How ironic that The Jerusalem
Post uses “Solomonic solution” as the headline for its April 12 editorial, in
which it decries the political machinations of the rabbinic authorities who are
the custodians of the Western Wall, and then describes the Kotel as “the holiest
site to the Jewish people.”
What utter rubbish! It was Solomon himself
who wrote: “Mavet ve’haim be’yad lashon“ (Death and life is in the power of our
tongue; Proverbs 18:21). By calling the remnant of a retaining wall built in 20
BCE by an Idumean murderer “the holiest site to the Jewish people,” the Post –
and regrettably many others – gives the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people
the very tool to deny us the Temple Mount, the true holiest site in
The primacy of the Temple Mount’s importance must be vigilantly
ALEX HORNSTEIN Allentown, Pennsylvania
Sir, – Shortly after
his release from imprisonment in the Soviet Union, our synagogue in London
hosted Natan Sharansky, and we all expressed our admiration of his fight for
freedom against unfair discrimination. But now he wants an “egalitarian” area at
the Kotel (“Sharansky proposes adding egalitarian section at Western Wall,”
Some years before my aliya I was dining with friends at a
restaurant in central Jerusalem and we noticed the smell of tobacco smoke in a
non-smoking establishment. It was coming from a smartly-dressed man leaning
against the bar – whom our waiter informed us was the proprietor.
the waiter to ask the man if he wouldn’t mind my swimming in his pool at home
and peeing just in one corner. The man stubbed out his
Sharansky doesn’t get it, or next he’ll be proposing a nudist
section in the name of egalitarianism.
STANLEY COHEN Jerusalem
Collins English Dictionary explains the word stupid as “lacking in common sense,
perception, or normal intelligence.”
Let us therefore consider: The Women
of the Wall wish to wear tallitot but cannot articulate why.
The men at
the wall do not want these women to wear prayer shawls at the site and cannot
articulate why not. The government instructs the police to arrest the women (as
though the police have nothing better to do) and cannot explain what
The rest of us are writing or thinking about this matter! Are we all
stupid – lacking in common sense, perception, or normal intelligence – or what?
Hopefully, the Sharansky solution will be adopted and turn us from stupid to
smart persons of common sense, perception and normal intelligence.
CLARIFICATION The photo accompanying “Aliya and activism” (Comment &
Features, April 14) was taken by Gloria Deutsch.