by Reb Gutman Locks @ path of the mystical the
Once again, a group of Jewish women came to the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) wanting to put on their tefillin and read from their sefer Torah (Torah scroll), and once again, a group of religious men went nuts and started screaming, and once again, the police made the women go to an area away from the more northerly part of the Kotel where we daven (pray) to a more southerly part of the same wall that has been set aside for such gatherings.
But is this fair? Isn’t G-d’s Temple supposed to be a “House of Prayer for all people?” Shouldn’t people be allowed to pray the way they want? After all, these women ask, “Why have the Orthodox been given exclusive rights to that part of the Kotel, while the other styles of Judaism (Reform and Conservative) have been pushed away to a less prominent area of the wall?”
Of course, these people are not pushed away from the area where we daven, but are merely asked to behave in a manner that is compatible with traditional standards when they come to this area of the Kotel. Basically, this means that men wear head coverings, and women go to the women’s side of the dividing screen. Although it has never been a problem before, today, it also means that women do not put on tefillin, nor read from Torah scrolls, both of which are religious acts that have traditionally been performed by men only.
What do you think?
Oh, I can hear you screaming now. Some of you are screaming, “YES, OF COURSE, LET THEM DO WHAT THEY WANT!” And some of you are screaming even louder, “WHAT, ARE YOU CRAZY? THROW THEM OUT!”
What’s wrong with letting everyone pray as they please?
Obviously, there is (to my knowledge) no sane, organized synagogue, temple, church, or other house of worship that allows everyone to do as they please. The Kotel administration is amazingly tolerant (or ignorant) when it comes to allowing non-Jews to do what they want. It is terribly annoying (an understatement) to be putting all of your concentration on prayer, surrounded by hundreds of Jews doing the same, only to have a group of some 20 Russian, non-Jewish tourists walk in and start taking your picture.
Then there are the x-ians who fall to their knees in front of the Kotel right in the middle of us, or the ones who start mumbling loudly, “ungabonga slickatome atstalak!!” with great feeling. Shabbos morning, right after sunrise, one these guys was just a few yards from the reading of the Torah, drowning it out! It is called “talking in tongues,” and it resembles someone on acid yelling at aliens that only he can see. I walked over and yelled at him to be quiet. He got insulted and stormed away.
So, should we allow everyone to do as they please at the Kotel? My opinion, let’s keep it the way our Torah-observant fathers and mothers prayed. At least until the Moshiach comes, which won’t be long. Then, he will decide which way is best.
A House of Prayer for All People - Isaiah 56:7