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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Times of Israel has a fairly decent overview of the history of prayer at the Western Wall. But it has an unfortunate headline:


One has to read the article carefully to find out the reason why:

Under the Ottoman Empire, restrictions were again imposed on the Jews by 1705, including the inability to create permanent fixtures such as partitions — or even tables and benches — at the Western Wall, though they were still able to worship there. In 1840 Ibrahim Pasha wrote an edict forbidding Jews from paving a path to the Western Wall. The firman, or decree, also told Jews not to speak or pray loudly or keep books in the area.
Every synagogue on the planet included a partition between men and women until the 19th century. It is disingenuous to point to the history of the Kotel as evidence in the current controversy over non-Orthodox prayer there.

However, for those who want egalitarian prayer who are are nostalgic for the old days when the Kotel had no partition, there is a simple solution.

Today, at this very moment, there is a Kotel that is spiritually superior to the current Kotel - and which has no partition

The "Little Western Wall" (Kotel HaKatan)  is situated north of the Kotel, much closer to the spot of the "Holy of Holies" in the original Temple.

Israeli authorities, like the Ottomans and British before them with the more famous Kotel, do not allow a partition to be placed there. No chairs or prayer books are there either.

If the non-Orthodox are burning in their desire to pray at the Kotel with men and women together, they can do it today, under protection of Israeli police who have a strong presence there.

Jews who feel like they are being disenfranchised by the political controversy over the Kotel plaza - those who feel that they cannot properly pray without men and women being together, or without their families with them - can, with a small amount of effort, go to a spiritually superior place and pray to God in whatever language and with whatever type of service they want. They can organize men's and women's prayer groups three times a day.  They can effectively take over a holier spot than the Kotel.

But if they are more interested in making noise than actually praying - if they want to rile up the non-Orthodox and split the Jewish community - if they don't give a damn about the actual point of prayer to God and instead want to pit American liberal Jews against the Orthodox....

They can choose to do exactly what they are doing today.





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