Esor Ben-Sorek

The Knesset Has Orthodox Doors

Today, two new Hebrew words entered the dictionary, thanks to the Academy of the Hebrew Language.

In our national politics, the Knesset  will now have two segregated entrance doors. The former “oppozitsia” will enter Parliament through the new “Negda” doors while the former “koalitsia” will now enter through the new “Yachda” doors.

Jewish Orthodoxy has now made its entrance into national government institutions. It seems to be following the disgusting segregated streets where men are permitted to walk on one side and women on the opposite side. God forbid that husbands and wives should walk together. Instead they will have to wave to one another from opposite sides of the street.

B’nai Brak-ism is infecting our daily lives with its hateful policies of gender segregation.

In Jewish religious law there are two factions which determine all laws. The first is “d’oraita’… LAWS SPECIFICALLY GIVEN BY GOD as written in the Torah and all our sacred texts.

The second are those laws which have been adapted, interpreted and written by the rabbis and sages throughout history and are known as “d’rabbanan”… LAWS GIVEN BY RABBIS.

Nowhere is the segregation of the sexes determined as law. It became customary over centuries by Orthodox rabbis who feared the familiarity of the two sexes if they sat together. Thus, the “mechitza,” the womens’ gallery separate from the men’s praying area.

In extremely Orthodox synagogues women sit behind veiled curtains where they cannot be seen by men. In modern Orthodox synagogues women sit in seats slightly separated from the main sanctuary where they are fully visible to the men. God forbid that a man should become aroused at the sight of a beautiful woman while he is reciting his prayers!

As a “punishment” for seduction she might be turned into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife!

Do ultra-Orthodox men and women have to enter and exit their homes by separate doors? Do those who live in high-rise buildings have to take separate elevators? Where does the nonsense end?

It is delightful that after 70 years the Academy of the Hebrew language saw fit to create two Hebrew words, replacing the Latinized terms for coalition and opposition. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, father of modern Hebrew, would be very happy. But not so happy with the segregated doors. The new Orthodox doors.

Religion and secularism have been at “war” since the days of emancipation, thanks to the efforts of the Emperor Napoleon of France who opened the ghettos of eastern Europe on his sorrowful march on Russia.

Once the ghetto-Jew was freed from the confinements and breathed the fresh air of renaissance and liberation, there was no turning back. Secularism (not equated with assimilation) had been born.

The pity is that many of the ghetto Jews of eastern Europe brought back ghetto mentality and ghetto practices when they arrived in Eretz Yisrael. Their ways are not the ways of the majority Jewish population. It is said that only 20% of Israeli Jews observe Orthodox practices. The remaining 80% are known as secular Jews.

Therefore I propose a change in the matter of the Knesset doors. Instead of labeling one for the coalition and one for the opposition, it might be better to label them as one for the Orthodox and one for the Secular.

Peace at last!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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