I was on edge as the three weeks drew near. Historically this has been a tumultuous time for our people. I couldn’t help but hold my breath hoping and praying that we do not suffer any additional catastrophic events this year. I started to lighten up a bit as I sang the familiar, soothing tunes of Hallel on Friday, Rosh Chodesh Av. Ironically, the thought that entered my mind as I prayed was how relieved I felt that the Kotel drama regarding the Woman of the Wall seemed to have died down in recent months. Then much to my dismay, a short time later, I learned that I was very wrong. I read how a member of WoW, was arrested for attempting to bring a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Kotel. I saw the video of those protesting WoW as they hurled loud whaling chants of psalms in opposition to their activity. I watched the media warfare conducted by disgruntled individuals on both sides of the issue bemoaning the others’ perceived wrongdoings and I felt overcome with grief.
Come on!! I wanted to scream and shake these people – ALL OF THEM – what the Hell are you thinking??
For the love of G-d (literally) and the well-being of our people couldn’t you have put aside your own personal religious indignations for just three weeks of your lives? Aren’t you aware of our history, that Sinat Chinam is why you are standing at a mere remnant of what used to be while perpetuating hateful activities that only make it worse?? Don’t you know the damage you are causing??
Stop what you are doing and think. The tactics on both sides have been ineffective and harmful. They have only served to fan the flames of hate.
We are taught in Sefer Yetzira that the month of Av is connected to the sense of hearing. When we don’t listen to the other we suffer destruction and devastation as we see from the first half of Av. But if we do listen, absorb, understand the other it can lead to beautiful long lasting relationships as displayed by Tub’Av and the second half of the month.
We are living in a time where exterior threats are frightening. Iran (among others) want to wipe us off the map. The parallels to Shushan and Haman could not be more obvious. Megillat Ester tells us that the antidote was that we changed from an “Am Mifuzar Umiforad”, to one that came together. If we refuse to do that we have no hope.
We need to listen to one another.
We need to seriously and respectfully consider the thoughts and feelings of the other side. It is a fundamental principle of ours to treat others as we want to be treated. It isn’t easy and requires a lot of inner strength. Life is a series of challenges sent our way and we are judged based on how we deal with them. It is incumbent upon us to hear the other out and to do the best we can to find a solution that works.
On one side we have women who want very badly (and it is key not to judge their motives) to pray as they see fit and feel sorely lacking that they can’t.
The other side feels the future of their religion that they know and love is being threatened (and again – no judging).
Ideally both should consider the other side.
Both sides claim to love G-d and desire Him and yet we know that strife drives the presence of G-d away.
It is ironic that in their passion to get close to G-d they have done just the opposite.
I beg of both sides please stop what you are doing. You have ruined Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel for many people.
Before you incur immeasurable damage ask yourself, what is more important; your personal truth or peace.
We know many instances where G-d has overlooked truth for the sake of compassion or peace.
If G-d thinks peace should win out, why don’t you?
If you can’t listen to each other and find an effective solution than the only option left is for the more noble party to stand down. No more shameful displays of disrespect for each other at our holiest prayer site.
It is my firm belief that successful relationships are had, not necessarily when everyone gets what they want, but when parties involved are willing to forego for the sake of peace. As a wife and mother I’ve seen this formula as the most beneficial to the family as a whole. It shows great strength of character when sacrificing by standing down at an impasse, especially when otherwise everyone stands to lose.