To the Women of the Wall, I present an excerpt from one of Abie Rotenberg’s
cherished children’s tunes: Do you want to know what’s wrong with that? Chorus
of Children: Please tell us.
You’re not happy with your share, you’re
Shall I tell you what the Torah says? Chorus of Children:
Yes we wanna know.Aizeh hu ashir hasameach b’chelko.
To be rich
this is what you gotta do-oo, Be happy with the share Hashem has given
The sects of Americanized Judaism have a male standard. Consider:
Traditionally girls have a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years old and a boy has a bar
mitzvah at 13. The age difference recognizes that normally girls mature at an
earlier age than boys. But in Americanized Judaism, the girls have their bat
mitzvah at 13. It’s a male standard. If the sects wanted to erase the uniqueness
of the genders, and do so on an equal basis, the age would have been set at 12
and a half. But no, the benchmark goes according to the male.
traditional Judaism, women have led the way in prayer. According to tradition it
is our mother Rachel’s prayers that will stir Hashem to bring the Jews home from
exile. It is Chana, mother of the prophet Samuel, who set the example for proper
protocol in prayer.
There is no reason to be ashamed of women’s prayers.
No reason to be jealous of the prayer rituals that the men have instituted for
Men have an obligation to pray with a minyan, in tallit and
tefillin. The obligations include a separation from women and being out of
earshot of women’s voices, especially women singing. Some of the obligations are
halacha. Some are tradition.
In observing their obligations, customs and
traditions have developed over the years and have been meticulously observed
over time and are found the globe. You might even say that some of the rituals
are more like a men’s club than a religious obligation. But this is how they did
it. They did not develop the traditions to be hostile to women. They were making
their obligations pleasant and meaningful.
I definitely think that women
have a right to their own associations and, more simply put, to have their own
space. I respect a man’s right to do the same. But in Americanized Judaism,
where the women have to be like the men in order to have meaning in their life,
women are driven to encroach on the world of men, or the women feel
I am making two points here. One, that men’s space is not
being respected. And two, that some women feel that in order to have a spiritual
experience they need to be like men.
At the Kotel, the Women of the Wall
have not tried to hold their ceremonies on the men’s side. However, they do pose
a problem with loud singing, which men are not allowed to hear.
read that when the Women of the Wall performed their ceremonies at a different
place, there were men together with them. This is worrisome, because if the
Women of the Wall were given space by the Kotel, would they then argue for the
right to have men together with them? And it might even be allowed in halacha
because the women are allowed to see and hear the men during prayer. But it’s
I like to pray on the women’s side and I get extremely annoyed
when men invade my space. I am trying to communicate with Hashem and I find men
on the women’s side distracting. They just don’t fit in.
way of praying has also been adopted by women. Traditional women have expressed
their concern – outrage and fury, in fact – about changes the Women of the Wall
want to institute on the women’s side of the partition. Although the media
predominately confers victim status on the Women of the Wall and the status of
aggressor on the angry mob, I disagree.
I think the angry mob are victims
fighting back. When a women is a victim, she screams, kicks and bites. The angry
women believe in the sanctity of the Kotel as a site where Jewish women have
prayed and cried for thousands of years. They cannot tolerate blatant disrespect
for that sanctity. They are in pain. They feel they are being
They are victims fighting back and being labeled
Getting back to my second point, about women wanting to be
like men. This has been reinforced by Americanized Judaism and I think it is
tragic, because it is a sign of unfulfilled women being jealous of their
brothers. By stripping women of their unique identity, Americanized Judaism has
robbed them of a rich heritage. Keeping a kosher home, keeping the laws of
family purity, organizing Shabbat and living modestly.
appropriately and studying the vast wisdom of our sages. Mentoring and
nurturing. A traditional life is full of feminine roles.
Six mornings a
week I join a local minyan.
My day goes better if I start by davening and
saying chitas. (Praying and saying the daily portion of the Torah, Psalms, Tanya
and Hayom Yom.) My favorite part of the services is Zos Hatorah, when someone
lifts up the Torah for all to see. I love how each person who lifts the Torah
does it in their own way.
But I have never felt jealous of the
I would be appalled if men started to demand a share in one of the
women’s mitzvot... like if they demanded the right to share in the mitzvah of
being mikveh lady.
Okay, I’m joking. (But I am sure I could find
candidates.) And what about Hashem? In our prayers, especially on Rosh Chodesh,
we praise Hashem and thank Hashem. To go to the bother of getting to the Kotel –
where there is no parking – and then praise Hashem in a way that negates the
values of generations of faithful Jews... I don’t get it.What are you saying? We
do it our way whether Hashem likes it or not? One of my favorite experiences is
when I attend a program at the resting place of Rebbitzen Menucha Rochel. A
group of women go there on a regular basis. We daven together outdoors, while
one of the women plays the flute. Then we go into a rustic building that is
reconstructed from an ancient structure with huge stones. We enjoy pita, soup,
salad and chocolate chip cookies. All homemade.
We study together, laugh
together, sing together with keyboard and harp accompaniment, and we join hands
and dance together. It is one of those times that makes it easy to be sameach
. Boruch Hashem
. Thank you for not making me a man... or a woman who
wants to act like one.
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