An Open Letter To A Dear Friend

Dear Yochi,

I decided to contact you through this respectable media, given the fact that you informed me at the last Rosh Chodesh that you send my emails to Trash.

But it’s hard for me to write you, given all that happened over the past year. However, this is not the place to talk about it.

And then I thought: I will try to connect to you when you were six years old. A sweet little girl, a good girl from Tzfat, who is frightened by a protest held on Simchat Torah, and promises herself that she will change the world. By hook or by crook.

And I’ll try to talk to you, six-year-old girl. Maybe you will be able to hear. Maybe you will be willing to listen. Maybe through you I will succeed in reaching who you are today: A woman of thirty, with a loving husband and with a daughter who needs you so much. G-d gave you everything you need – and you repeatedly scorn it all.

So please listen to me, cute friend. Today is Simchat Torah, a day of joy and dancing, and instead of dancing, your heart hurts. You feel the pain of misunderstanding. Why are you, dear six-year-old girl, not allowed to hold the Torah scroll? Why do these protestors criticize the way of your parents? And what is all this noise?

And then you promise yourself that one day you will change all that. A day will come and you will be able to do exactly what was forbidden to these protestors, and the whole world will see. And you will be stronger than them all, and no one will protest against what you do anymore.

And then your heart froze. You grew up, went to high school, served in the army, studied at university – but the six-year-old girl still remained inside you, trying to fight the laws. And if anyone tells you otherwise, you feel just as if they are one of those protestors in Tzfat. And your ears are closed, and your smile is frozen, and you do not actually hear us. You do not hear our voice.

And I want to talk to you, dear friend, as if we were both six-year-old girls deciding what to do in the face of the trauma you experienced.

There’s a problem, that’s right. But the problem is not whether a woman should or should not lay tefillin, can or cannot hold the Torah scroll, nor even whether a woman should or should not speak in public, pursue a career, may or may not join a minyan…

The question is: how to solve problems.

Violence, bullying, and breaking sacred laws, are not the way to solve problems. These are just how to create new ones.

And this lesson, which we should have learned two thousand years ago, we have not yet learned to this day.

There are ways to solve problems. There are ways to talk. To ask. To explain. To resolve conflicts. Do you think that the status of women needs improvement? So you are invited to set a personal example, and to learn from the great women of our nation, those who created, those who built, those who influenced our nation.

They never used violence.

They never broke the laws.

They never fought against the sacred.

Look at Miriam the prophetess, how she gently approached her father, Amram, and asked him to return to her mother, Yocheved.

Look at the daughters of Tzelaphchad – Machla, Noa, Chogla, Milka and Tirtza – how they approached Moshe Rabbeinu, and asked for a share and an inheritance in the Holy Land, something revolutionary in those ancient times.

Look at Devora the prophetess, who led the Israeli nation when they needed her, and led battles when she was asked to, and composed an amazing Shira – a song of thanks – and all her actions were with modesty, with love, based on an inner truth.

Look at the prophetess Chulda, a relative of the prophet Yirmiyahu, who had a room near the seat of the Sanhedrin, which was open to the outside and closed to the Sanhedrin, to ensure modesty.

Look at all of these great, holy, revolutionary women. None of them desecrated the sanctuary. None violated practices of modesty. None disobeyed the Ten Commandments. None rebelled against G-d because they thought their status was not high enough.

They were all women. And they were all women who achieved huge goals. And they all were faithful to G-d and faithful to His holy laws.

Please, dear friend, please try to listen to these voices of the great women of our nation. Please try to learn from them how to reach goals.

Positive goals are not achieved through violence. By fighting against G-d. By contempt of the Torah and by transgressing the holy Jewish lawsin the remnant of the holy Temple.

Positive goals cannot be reached by mocking other people.

Positive goals are not achieved by coming to what remains of our holy Temple with a cult that mocks the sacred service and actually delays its reconstruction that we are so looking forward to. Positive goals are not achieved through exiling G-d again and again from His house.

This is not how goals are achieved! This can just bring about “global destruction” instead of “global repair”. This just ignites a new fire in the holy Temple every single Rosh Chodesh. And we can term this “spiritual violence”.

Our holy prayers were composed by the “Anshei Knesset Hagdola” who were prophets – and the texts your friends use at the holy Western Wall violate these holy words, contradict the Jewish faith and Jewish law, and are forbidden according to “Thou shalt not bear the name of the Lord, your G-d in vain” from the Ten Commandments! And how can you come to the holiest place in Judaism to violate the Ten Commandments????

The Western Wall is the remnant of the Temple and it is a place of great hope – the hope for the third Temple to be built soon in our days, Amen. How can one come to it and recite offensive texts against the Temple service, instead of the original prayers written by the prophet? And perhaps you never noticed, but compare the texts in your booklets with the wording composed by the prophets – and the differences are offensive!

I have repeatedly tried to talk with you – but you have ignored my words and trashed my mails. I have received no response. No answers. Zero willingness to understand. To talk.

We cried out in pain – and you stood in front of us and burst out laughing. Mocking our cries. Mocking our faith. Mocking our religion.

Why? Why? Why?

But, dear Yochi, maybe you should try to listen us, please: A person who wants to renovate their home will not destroy its foundations. It is impossible to “improve the status of women” by overturning Judaism. Through violating basic Jewish Law. By transgressing the Jewish laws in the holiest place on earth. It is impossible to bring the Torah scroll closer to women by taking it into the toilets. You cannot drive a car by crashing it. Do not pretend to “repair the world” by destroying it. That does not work.

Wake up, dear friend, go back to age six, return to that age of innocence. Do you want to achieve positive goals? Please try to think about how you can really attain them. Positive goals cannot be achieved by trampling, by rebellion, by disregarding our lives, all that is holy and dear to us, and by trampling on the feelings of millions of other Jewish women, mocking our belief in the sanctity of this holy place. Real positive goals cannot be brought about through violence.

Goals are be achieved only from a place of respect, of dialogue, of understanding, of love.

If you truly want to advance the status of women, first try to advance your own personal status. Try to be satisfied with your own life, to start each day with a “Modah Ani” – thanking G-d Who gave you a soul, Who gave you a loving husband, Who gave you a daughter who needs you so much. Try to thank Him for all the gifts you received, and then ask Him for the positive goals you want to achieve –

And then, dear friend, you will be able leave this all-consuming preoccupation, that black hole that has brought you to dark incidents of cursing. And then you will be able to take yourself to positive places, productive places, places that benefit, rather than harm, women. Places that spread light to the world and not chaos.

Start thinking positively. Start doing good. And lead yourself and the whole world to better places. And only through love.

I wish you all the best,

Rina.

P.S.: The descriptions in this letter are symbolic and represent ideas and feelings, and do not pretend to describe physical situations.

About the Author
Dr. Rina Azoulay (B.A. in Economics and Computer Science, Bar Ilan University; M.Sc. in Computer Science, Bar Ilan University; Ph.D. in Computer Science, Bar Ilan University, 2001) is a senior lecturer in the Computer Science Department at the Jerusalem College of Technology, Israel. Her main research interests are protocols for reaching agreements, applications of machine learning methods, and intelligent tutoring systems.
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