Kotel Wars

As a woman I used to look forward to Rosh Chodesh. It is a time that is special for women. We are told to enjoy and celebrate and I took that seriously. I felt a sense of elation at the dawn of opportunity and looked forward to the upcoming month’s potential.

As of the past few months all that has changed. When Rosh Chodesh draws near my heart sinks in dreadful anticipation. Rosh Chodesh now means a war between our women in one of our holiest places. The inherent beauty of Rosh Chodesh is disgraced by my people. The opportunity to start our month fresh and pure has been mocked by those who rise early in the morning to bring words of prayer to G-d whilst disrespecting other members of Klal Yisroel. This is despicable. Our religion was started by Avraham Avinu from whom we are taught the proper way.Three days after his brit mila he was conversing with G-d. He saw three men approaching from afar – mind you he believed them to be idol worshipers –  he put his prayer to G-d on hold and went to serve these men. This is no surprise if one ponders the rationale . Each person is created B’tzelem Elokim and when you tend to the needs of man you are truly serving G-d.The service that one does in prayer to G-d is indeed uplifting and wonderful, but it it is selfish if done at the disregard of others.

The kotel wars are a prime example of each Jew caring only for her needs while trampling on others in an effort to fulfill them. I am reminded of the times of old when the Kohanim would race up the ramp to the altar to see who would perform the sacrificial service of the day. It happened once as one kohen gained in the lead the other drew a knife and stabbed his fellow in the heart. In a poignant speech given by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein following the murder of Rabin, he made the following points with regard to the above story and our collective guilt:

  • At times we prioritize the service to G-d at the expense of our brothers “the importance of competitiveness, of devotion, of striving and commitment of zeal and ardor, without sufficiently emphasizing the corresponding importance of brotherhood, love, and respect, which must accompany the honest, pure, good, holy and exalted desire to serve G-d.”
  • There is a self confidence that arises from commitment to a world of values and eternal truths that has “sometimes led to frightening levels of self certainty and ultimately to arrogance.” This arrogance has in turn “led us to act without sufficient responsibility towards other people and other values. We are good, we have values, and they are worthless.”
  • The promotion of simplicity and shallowness – “Uncomplicated directives excite more passion than a balanced and complex approach which confronts questions of competing spiritual values and competing national interests.”
  • We are taught to belittle and suspect others – “one who doesn’t agree with us is criminal, not merely mistaken.”

Here we are again. WFW vs WOW is akin to the 2 Kohanim racing to do the sacrificial service. Zealousness to serve G-d in a particular way with disregard to others, arrogance, simplicity, and belittlement of those with differing views.

This is a battle between groups that are “racing up the altar” to serve G-d with total disregard for the other. These harmful repetitive activities month after month in one of our holiest places is causing untold harm to our people.

We must understand that one cannot sacrifice his fellow man in order to “sacrifice” to G-d. Each individual should be able to pray freely without getting metaphorically pushed off the ramp.

It saddens me greatly that month after month, with time to reflect in between, neither side can find a place in their hearts or good consciousness to step aside for the sake of a true Kiddush Hashem. How they sing with their lips “oseh shalom bimromav”, asking G-d to do what they not only refuse to take part in, but work actively to destroy, is a disgrace.

So for now it seems the battle will continue to be waged at the Kotel. Our last existing wall  that has witnessed hate and dissension for hundreds of years shall continue to wail as she watches our people lash out in “prayer” that is being used as a tool of war “in service to G-d”.

If only we would work together and respect one another we could accomplish so much, dare I say we might even merit the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash. It’s not impossible if we put our egos aside and work together. I pray that from now on people will open their hearts and minds, work respectfully with one another and thereby merit praying  with all of Am Yisroel together in the third and final Bet Hamikdash.

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. She moved from the land of the free (America) to the home of the brave (Israel) 10 years ago and now resides with her family in Maaleh Adumim.
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