Not Orthodox and not Reform
It was not the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem, our sages taught us, but the baseless hatred that spread within it.
Western Wall Photo: www.goisrael.com
Recently, worshipers at the Western Wall were again caught, and not to their
advantage, in the struggle among various streams of Judaism over recognition and
influence. The prayer of thousands of people who came to the Western Wall from
afar was disturbed by illegal demonstrations, provocation, and arrests that were
meant as a show for the media.
It is difficult to see a group who, in the
name of its values and principles, renounces the verdict of the High Court of
Justice. Please let it be clear – the organization of the Women of the Wall and
the entire Reform movement are the only Jewish stream to receive from the State
of Israel its own private area for prayers at the Western Wall, at an investment
of $2 million of taxpayers’ money. All the other tens of streams and sub-streams
in the Jewish nation crowd together in the Western Wall Plaza in peace and
brotherhood, with mutual respect, and not one of them complains that “this place
is too small.”
It is even more difficult to see, in front of the Western
Wall stones, scenes of Jews fighting each other and slandering one another. The
stones of the Wall still remember the Jewish wars of 2,000 years ago; the libel,
the wars of the righteous, the knives drawn on brothers inside the
It was not the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem, our sages taught
us, but the baseless hatred that spread within it.
I have written this
before and will write it again – the Western Wall is not Orthodox, just as it is
not Reform. The Western Wall was there many years before we sadly split into
streams and camps, and will continue to stand strong, God willing, until the
Mashiach comes. The Western Wall is the place of prayer for every individual in
the nation, and as such it must carefully safeguard the individual’s right to
privacy and respect during the precious moments of prayer. The secret of the
Western Wall is the secret of diminution, which demands that each one of us
minimize the traditions in which we differ and focus on what is common and which
For this reason, and this reason alone, there will not be at
the Western Wall a demonstration quorum of Women of the Wall, just as there will
not be at the Western Wall a “gathering” of a hassidic leader.
the one place, perhaps the last, where we are all united as Jews. It would be
terrible if here, too, we emphasize the differences among us.
rabbi of the Western Wall, it is my job and my obligation to make sure this does
The first chief rabbi of the Land of Israel, Rabbi Avraham
Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, of blessed memory, said, “The pure righteous do not
complain about evil but add righteousness, do not complain about heresy but add
faith, do not complain about ignorance but add wisdom.”
While facing the
repeated attempts to turn the Western Wall, the unifying heart of the Jewish
nation, into an arena of public dispute, we will continue to work toward
bringing millions of students, soldiers, tourists and worshipers to the Western
Wall every year, out of respect and love for each one of them.
the observant and the secular, both Jews and non-Jews, will continue to pray at
the Western Wall Plaza side by side with mutual respect and brotherhood, as is
written: “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all
And with God’s help, when the fire of dispute and baseless
hatred die out, all will find their place here.
The writer is the rabbi
of the Western Wall and the holy sites.