Wednesday, October 02, 2013

So, The Mechitza Is At Fault

I left this comment here, at Sh'ma:

An admirable treatment but, nevertheless, lacking.

a) to write 'The Western Wall is widely held to be the “most sacred place in the world to the Jewish people,”' without attempting to correct that is odd.  It might be so "held" but the least could have been a notation that the Wall has no intrinsic sanctity in and of itself except by virtue of it being s a retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

And that is relevant to the Women of the Wall issue for if the Wall was truly sacred, what difference would it make to the ladies to be a 100 meters south of the Plaza?  There is the "Little Wall" to the north, next to the Iron Gate, where prayers are conducted.  If the ladies are seeking closeness, is the Plaza the venue or the Wall?  They want to be in the "synagogue" or talk to God?

b) to award the element of "centrality" of the Kotel to Christian visitors when, at least from 14th century, and perhaps earlier, Jews had been praying there and prior to that, during the Geonic and Karaite era, when the Western Wall was off-limits, the Eastern Wall was the location for supplications and circumventing the gates, is odd.  But, still, the Temple Mount is central.  Jews attempted to ascend to the Temple Mount after the Temple's destruction (as Akiba's story attests; Makkot 24B and other external to Jewish sources, including Maimonides visit in 1166), and in the 19th century, the Hatam Sofer, Akiva Eiger, Yehudah Alkalai and Zvi Kalischer discussed the matter of renewing at least the Paschal Sacrifice and Montefiore and later Baron Rothschild visited the Temple Mount, after the Kotel, in the second half of the 19th century.   Oh, and check Herzl's Altneuland where the rebuilt Temple is mentioned.

c)  Correctly, it is noted that "The Wall had not merely been adopted; it had been transformed into an entirely new symbol, redolent with new meanings and a new sacredness" after World War I.  That, of course, was mainly due to the inability of Jews to develop the sacredness of the Temple, due to Halachic restrictions but also to Ottoman practice of disallowing entrance of any non-Muslim.  Look what has happened after 1967 when freedom of access, relatively speaking, was resumed.  But worthy of mention should have been the fact that the event that sent all spiraling was in 1928 when on  September 24, 1928, on Yom Kippur, the mechitza, which had been temporarily up for the two days of the previous Rosh Hashana and had been removed during the midweek, was put up for the fast day by the Admor of Radziman, Aharon Menachem Mendel Gutterman.  The mechitza - then the "culprit" and today as well?


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