Monday, May 27, 2013

Women of the Wall (part 1)

The recent debacle that has made international news is about feminists who have come to the Kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem to “liberate the wall (as they put it).”  What they wish to accomplish is not so evident since they have a very hidden agenda.  What the absolute truth is about what they are doing, what it will mean to them, to Israel and to all women around the world, needs discussion.  The one question that I always like to ask is “what is Hashem’s opinion?”

To begin, I would like to repost an essay (with changes) that I did 1 May 2012, that should give insight into Hashem’s opinion.  The essay was entitled:

Sexism in Scriptures and in Life

One subject that I have found to be a big myth is the stigma of women in the observant community.  The secular world is convinced that women are treated as subservient citizens, and it is all because the Bible (which most people believe was written by men) treats them as such.  I had the exact same belief before I became observant since I had only lived in secular communities (about 48 years worth) which perpetuated that stereotype.  I didn’t know any observant Jews and could only believe what I had heard about them.  Then three things happened in my life.  One was discovering the truth about who wrote scriptures; second, was a deeper analysis of what scriptures really says; and third, was moving into an observant Torah community, meeting these wonderful people and experiencing the exact opposite of what I was led to believe. 

First of all, let us review what it says in scriptures.  The most amazing thing that I discovered was it is very one sided, but against men not women.  “Women are at a higher spiritual level than men could ever be.”  What is the basis for that statement?  Because women can experience life in them and men can’t.  It is the primary reason that women are not obligated to fulfill many of the commandments.  Women are above the need for many commandments.  We see throughout scriptures that the women are more righteous than the men.  The original sin, as I had discussed earlier, was mostly due to Adam not repenting his mistake.  We have additional insight into how a wife should assist her husband.  Hashem separated Adam and Eve and said that she should be “ezer kenegdo,” a helper parallel to him (Genesis 2:18).  This has an interesting connotation that in English we stress the first word a “helper” almost making her sound like a servant to him.  More accurately, the second word “parallel” or, I have even seen it translated as “against” him.  This makes her totally equal a partner who should even keep him straight when he makes mistakes.  She is there, not to serve him, but to work together on an equal basis and maybe even keep him out of trouble.  Observant men study and work hard all their lives to try to reach a spiritual level that women have already.  The man will never achieve that level, but should always be grateful to the women in his life who help him with the effort.  Maybe, because men and women are not equal is why we call our wives “our better half (literally).” 

We are told that Sarah was more of a prophetess than Abraham being a prophet.   Isaac was not aware of the deception of his son Esau but Rivka was able to help Jacob achieve the birthright and perpetuate the will of Hashem.  Both Rachel and Leah were very wise and of great help to Jacob.  When the father of Moses, Amram, a leader in the community, decided to prevent further killings of the Jewish male babies, he required the men to divorce their wives.  It was the wisdom and foresight of his daughter Miriam that changed his mind.  As a result of the prophecy that Miriam experienced, her brother, Moses was born -- the deliverer of the Jew people.  Shifra and Puah (who were really Yocheved and Miriam) acted as midwives and saved many Jewish babies.  The greatness of Queen Esther in her role that saved the Jews in Persia (the celebration of Purim) or Jehudit the one whose bravery helped save the Jews (the celebration of Chanukah) or the greatness of Chanah, Chulda, Ruth, Michal, etc (I know the list is far more extensive, I apologize if I left out your favorite).  The fact that the women were not in favor of building the Golden Calf or that they did not believe the negative reports of the spies are very indicative of the much higher spiritual level that women have throughout history.  Many are not aware that because ten of the spies did come back with a negative report and the fact that the men didn't have the high level of faith and trust in Hashem as the women did, there were two punishments that resulted.  One is that the Israelites would have to remain in the desert for 40 years, one year for each day that the spies were away; the other is that from that time on when men pray they will require a quorum of ten men in order to bring down the Shechinah, the divine presence of Hashem, one man for each negative spy.  Never think that women cannot be counted as part of a minion is a sexist or prejudicial act.  It is that women are at the higher level and don’t require this punishment of ten in order to pray to Hashem.  Women should never lower themselves to the level of men by wanting to be counted in the minion.   (It’s interesting that this spirit of Hashem, Shechinah, is a feminine word, which negates the poor English translation of Hashem as He.  Hashem is neither a He nor She.  But, the different qualities of His essence are considered masculine or feminine and the words demonstrate those qualities for which men and women are individually blessed).

You get the idea.  The roles that women played and tremendous sacrifice that we see throughout scriptures is very much in favor of the Jewish woman and not men.  One incident in Torah that shows the weakness of men is when the righteous Joseph was confronted by the wife of Potifar.  Joseph was said to be a very handsome man that the women swooned over.  When he was made a servant in the house of Potifar, the captain of the palace guards, Potifar’s wife made a play for the handsome Joseph.  Joseph knew that men, including him, were not strong and could give into temptation which caused him to run from the house.  Sometimes one passes a test by running from the situation.    

One of the most important roles of the married Jewish couple is to “be fruitful and multiply.”  Bringing new Jewish souls into the world is a very prominent factor in the process of perfecting the world.  The world will not be perfected until all the Jewish souls in Heaven have come to Earth and have been rectified individually (this is much more involved than what I am saying here).  The woman takes on the very important role of teacher of life within a household.  Her nurturing of the children is the greatest element for the success of the family and in turn the entire Jewish community.  The training of Jewish children to become righteous adults can be attributed to the high level of righteousness of the Jewish woman.  What I have experienced is that Jewish men hold their wives in high regard since most households are very successful in bringing to fruition the will of Hashem (mostly due to the women).

There is another great misunderstanding in the customs of the observant community -- the separation of men and women in prayer service.  As demonstrated in the story of Joseph, men are weak.  When you have a situation such a prayer that requires complete concentration, and not lip service to perform it properly, no man could ever convince me that he can handle the great spiritual involvement with a woman in his site.  I’ve said it before; any man that tells me he can handle it is either a liar or a homosexual.  There are other hidden factors in the separation of men and women.  One is Hashem wishes no individual to be embarrassed.  When men and women sit together it becomes obvious if you see a single man or a single women sitting alone.  People gossip.  They look at the individual, especially if the person is older and wonder why that person doesn’t have a spouse.  We eliminate any possibility of embarrassment by having men sit with men and women sitting with women.   Another embarrassment is that no individual should touch a Torah if he or she is ritually impure (this would require much explanation as to what impurity means – but whatever you think it is, is probably incorrect since it is a spiritual matter not physical).  The time of the monthly cycle renders a woman impure.  If a woman was in seat in the synagogue that she could reach the Torah or could be asked, as the men are, to take the Torah out of the Ark, it would be an embarrassment if the woman declined or shied away from the Torah and everyone suspected the reason.  There are many things within Jewish ritual that occur to avoid embarrassment; but, unfortunately, they are very unknown and subtle concepts that are misinterpreted as sexist (men made it up, not Hashem is the going thought).
It is fascinating to know that for thousands of years men and women were always separated in prayer service even in the church.  When the enlightenment came in the mid 1800s the church so-called modernized and combined the sexes.  The Jewish Reform movement, which mimicked the church in most of its customs, decided to join in and modernize – completely ignoring Hashem’s detailed instructions about men and women being separate.  This is the only reason the so-called modern Jewish movements have combined seating.  It is not the will of Hashem.

From the book “Tefillin” by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”tl
Tefillin are a most wonderful way to bind oneself to Hashem.  But, it is only for men.  Where do women come in?  On a most simple level, the reason for the commandments is to establish a link with Hashem. The most profound way to do this is to resemble Him.  There is one unique way that women resemble Hashem in a way that no man could ever hope to.  Only a woman can create within her body.  Only a woman can bear a child.  In this sense, a woman partakes of Hashem’s attributes more intimately than any man.  The Kabbalists teach us that the hand Tefillin represent the feminine element.  The single hollow can be said to represent the womb, and the coils, the umbilical cord.  What man partakes of with an object, woman partakes of with her very body.  The box of Tefillin is called a Bayis – literally a house.  The woman also has her Bayis – the home in which she raises a family.  One could say that a woman's home is her Tefillin.

There are two basic elements in Judaism, the home and the synagogue.  Judaism treats the home and synagogue as being co-equal.  Some of our most important rituals belong exclusively to the home, such as the Seder, the Succah, the Sabbath table, the Sabbath candles, the Chanukah lamp, etc.  The continuity of Judaism rests on the home more than anything else.  This Bayis, the home, is a woman's Tefillin.  It is her contribution to the overall picture of Hashem’s purpose.  It is interesting to note that Hashem told all, from Moses to Jacob, and teach the sons of Israel: “If the Torah does not enter the Jewish home first, there can be no continuity of Judaism.  This spirit of Torah in the Jewish home (Bayis) is the same as the parchments of Torah in the Tefillin box (Bayis).  But this is the domain of the woman.

Additionally, the Tallit or prayer shawl is a reminder to men to perform the 613 commandments of the Torah.  Women do not need this reminder and are therefore not obligated to wear a Tallit.  Woman who would like to wear either a Tallit or Tefillin are lowering themselves to the level and weaknesses of a man.  Let us do things the way Hashem commanded and not attribute any custom to the arrogance of men or the misconception of prejudice to women

I probably could never fully articulate the true aspects of the high attributes of Jewish women – after all, I’m a man, what do I know.  But having had a very extensive comparison of the way women are treated in the secular world to the pedestal treatment they receive in the Jewish observant world, I can say without reservation that they are not even close.  I have observed such prejudicial treatment of women in secular life, at school, in the military and at the workplace.  This behavior would be considered appalling to the observant Jewish community.  When people believe that it is the flawed rules and customs made up by men that we follow instead of the perfect guidance of Hashem, they are greatly deceived.  When they realize that Hashem’s system is perfect, only then can they also enjoy the happiness that the system of this world has to offer.  The observant Jewish community has the happiest people in the world with the best behaved children, the lowest divorce rate, the most successful marriages and by far the greatest peace of mind.  When you follow and trust Hashem, it is easy.  Are we perfect in following Hashem’s system?  Definitely not, but that is what life is all about – perfecting ourselves so that our eternal life can be the best.  “Be all that you can be” is not just for the US Army.  The truest accomplishment of that motto in the world is with the observant Jewish community.  Don’t argue with success.

What is sad is that a lack of education of the subject causes one to hinder one’s growth and the important concept of bringing oneself closer to Hashem.  A woman trying to lower herself to the lever of a man is totally counterproductive and even harmful in the quest for happiness and a wonderful eternity.  Passing that message onto one's children is extremely sinful, and will cause great damage to that child’s well-being.

With that said we can more intelligently look at what it means to these women, to Israel and to the women of the world.  That will be in part 2, tomorrow, B”N


  1. Hashem’s system is perfect! Thank you.

    1. You are correct. Include hashem in your thanks, that is truly where the credit goes.

  2. I received a comment from PMEM that contains some very incorrect information that I would not post. I mention it since I would prefer that PMEM personally Email me and allow me to respond to his comment.

    Since I am trying to save the world by not letting misguided individuals damage Eretz Yisroel, Yiddishkeit, themselves, their families and the rest of the world, I don't need your misinformation posted that would confuse the issue. Who's side are you on? Since I have many references to support everything that I said, any counterproductive information is not appreciated. Please contact me by Email at and we can sort it all out. Thank you.

  3. PMEM, I said a personal Email with your return Email address. I have already written you an answer, I am just waiting to find out where to send it.

  4. I recently began studying Aggadah with my rabbi. In more than one of the stories the wife is referred to as 'Beiti' -- my house. Why does a man refer to his wife as literally my house?. For reasons that dovetail with what you described above and due to the fact she creates a place not unlike a womb where she nurtures and assists her children and husband in everyday yiddishkeit. She is the center of the home. When she is not there it is not the same.

    Also I would like to remember Devorah the prophetess and Yael, the daughters of Lot, Tamar and Ruth for their pivotal place within the Jewish people. Greatness and majesty is not always apparent at first glance. And as we learn in Tanya holiness is often found in the depth of tumah.

    The Woman of the Wall see men as if their role were more important because they are front and center with Talis and T'fillin but completely miss the point in the tznius, internal beauty("Sarah's in the tent") of the Jewish woman.

    1. Excellent comment. I prefer to wait until tomorrow's post before commenting on the mission and agenda of the Women of the Wall since it is not what it seems.

  5. To me their mission is clear. To destroy from inside out. They are the Golden calf. Until their place is clear, many daughters of Rachel avoid Kotel during their presence. So too Dvora.
    I am proud of the many women that took stand by showing up and letting see, that the Kotel is the place, where we come with respect and know the place of the woman and the man.

    May Hashem protect us against assimilation, homosexuality, cannibalism and the wow.

  6. There is a group of Jewish women call Women 'for' the Wall. They are righteous sisters who love Torah and Hashem. They have a website:

  7. In reference to Anonymous # 2: If you have the time, this is awesome.

    1. Moriah,
      I find myself always thanking you. Sometimes I think you should write this blog, you always find excellent material to support Yiddishkeit. I know Hashem pays much attention to you and your family and has wonderful plans for your eternity. Keep up the good work, you definitely make my job easier.

      I highly encourage everyone to review the two suggested websites from Moriah. They are excellent.

  8. Mainly right, but not about touching a Sefer Torah. Tumah cannot attach to a Sefer Torah on the one hand, and on the other hand these days, without the Temple, nearly everyone is tamei, including most men.

    Also whilst it is true that women are considered to be on a higher spiritual level in some respects, men have more mitzvot which elevate them. I think the focus should be on complementary spiritual roles.

    A big part of the problem is because throughout history, the position of women has been inferior to that of men, these days in any area where there is a difference between genders, it is automatically interpreted as the female role as being inferior.

    1. What it says in Tractate Niddah that causes the practice of a wife not even handing something to her husband during Niddah, holds true for even touching the Torah. You are correct about everyone being tamei including "all men," but we are encouraged to learn and practice proper procedures (such as using the Mikvah, interacting with others, etc) in preparation for the Geula and the Bais Hamikdash, which I believe is sooner than we think.

      The level of the women as hinted to throughout Tenach with almost every incident (I just touched upon it with several examples in my part 1 post) is a fairly well known concept. The explanation in Aryeh Kaplan's book about why women are not obligated to wear Tefillin, is probably one of the best write ups that I've seen. I don't know of a Rabbi of today that would disagree. As I explained to an individual who wrote to me with references saying the contrary, you can always find from thousands of years of commentary opposing positions, even the Talmud brings out the truth by showing all sides, all opposing arguments. The more important thing here is that the Women of the Wall should know that they are not obligated to wear Tallit nor Tefillin and they are wearing them is total disrespect to Hashem's will.

      I have lived in completely 100% Frum communities for the past 18 years and find a very positive attitude and high regard for the women. It is the secular community that has the stigma of inferiority since most secular people have never really known true observant Jews. If they did, they would have a completely different attitude. I guess it is like every stereotype that exists, the less you know about the truth, the more you have a distorted opinion. That will all change soon with Moshiach. B"H

  9. Tumah may not attach itself to a Sefer Torah but it is a logical perception that a woman who does not reach out to touch a Sefer Torah is niddah This is not tznius and a terrible embarrassment for a woman. Sometimes I am moved to tears when I daven or read the parshah or Haftarah. I thank G-d I am on the other side of the mechitza. I wouldn't dream of sitting on the men's side..

    1. Correct. Another aspect that I noticed in Conservative and Reform places of worship was a tremendous amount of socializing. It was very difficult to find a davener who really had the fear of standing in front of Hashem. There was such an atmosphere of let's get this over with so we can get to the refreshments and continue to socialize. If we were standing in front of a King of flesh and blood or a leader of a country, we would be petrified and definitely on our best behavior -- for fear of punishment. But, in front of the King of Kings, the owner of the universe who does have a system of reward and punishment -- guaranteed -- we do everything but pray (or at best give prayer lip service, and then get to the refreshments). Proper prayer works -- what a golden opportunity lost. Weak men watching women is a total loss -- sincere prayer isn't even a thought and just doesn't happen (I know I just happen to be a member of the weak gender and have lots of experience with a straying mind).