A Call for Peace and Quiet

Our sages tell us, “Lev melachim v’sarim b’yad Hashem.” God has the ability to change the minds of political leaders.

For the past few months, I’ve found myself praying with a degree of fervor normally reserved for wars and illnesses, in the days leading up to Rosh Chodesh. I’ve been praying that the leaders of Women of/for the Wall fall under the category of political figures for whom God removes a degree of free will, in order to orchestrate His master plan. If that is the case, I can pray that He directly intervene. Please God, just make it stop. Make them change their minds. My heart cannot take it anymore.

My feelings on this topic are no more nuanced than the simple desire for this insanity to just…no longer be. I’m tired—so very, very tired—of hearing about it, worrying about it, crying about it, being furious about it. Rosh Chodesh has suddenly been transformed from a celebration of and for women, to a deadlocked battle of wills for the “rights” to Judaism, by the Women of and for the Wall.

And it hurts. Oh God, it is so painful. I’m not even going to bother attempting to argue this logically, as reason has proven to fall upon deaf ears. All I want to add to the back-and-forth of this dispute is my very own agmas nefesh, the suffering of the soul, that all this infighting has caused. And I’m sure there are many who share in my pathos.

With each passing month, the chasm between these two factions is growing deeper and wider, and I am so afraid that it will soon be unbridgeable. I’ve begged God, and now I’m begging you, the leaders and supporters of these organizations—please stop! Don’t spend another Rosh Chodesh using prayer as a weapon against your own people.

I’m not going to lie and say I see both sides of the issue, because I don’t. I can tell you exactly how I envision prayer at the Kotel in years from now, and it involves copious amounts of tzitzit strings, on both sides of the mechitza. But whether you share my vision, or imagine a different scenario, does not really matter anymore. The issue of freedom of religion needs to be sidelined briefly so we can tackle the issue of Jewish unity head-on. And contrary to popular belief, we’re not going to solve that problem by praying at each other.

I know this will not be a popular post. I know people like to rile each other up over controversial issues, and a call for peace and quiet is not as exciting as a call to arms. So be it. I hope I reach someone. If I can get one woman to skip the bus to the Kotel and pray for unity in her own living room or her own synagogue, whether she’s wearing a tallit and tefillin, or a sheitel and bulletproof stockings, I will feel I have made a difference.

About the Author
Bahtya Minkin is a full-time mother of four, originally from Lakewood, NJ, now living in Beit El. In her ample spare time she enjoys crocheting, reading, and arguing with strangers on Facebook.