I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

27 December 2012

The Girl Effect, part 26 - Women of the Wall update

Women of the Wall logo

So here I am tonight, reading the news, minding my own business when I find another update on the story about the Women of the Wall at Arutz Sheva that has me really scratching my head here.

The issue of women wearing a prayer shawl and reading from the Torah at the Western Wall appears on the surface to be harmless, so it has been adopted as a cause célèbre as part of the Reform and Conservative movements' decades-old attempt to destroy the Orthodox Jewish authority that dates back to the time of Moses.
The issue of confronting halakhic authority is not new in the Jewish world. The Bible describes attempts by Korach to usurp Moses’ authority because “all of the Jewish people are holy.”
Similarly, the catchy, fashionable slogan of “equality,” with a push from Rudoren, has kept the Women of the Wall’s demands on the front pages in the United States.
Arutz Sheva: US Liberal Jews’ War on Orthodoxy at Kotel

 What the what? Did you see what they just did there? No really, did you just see what I saw?

Arutz Sheva, for the most part, I love you... but seriously, this is just.. it's.. Yeah, that's just special.

Pardon me while I deconstruct these two comments for you.  If you're unfamiliar with the usual spiritual and verbal attacks on women who wish to take on commandments of Torah that are time-bound, and as such generally unable for us to take on at a regular basis like men (not forbidden!!) - allow me to soften the blow of these horrible words with a little more information and education.

This statement, is exactly, I kid you not, like the typical spiritually abusive statements leveled by any spiritual leader who has had enough of whatever "shenanigans"  they don't want going on in their own backyard. And frankly, this is what really twerks me off about the whole issue.

No one wants to come to the table amicably and deal with it from the Orthodox side. No, that'd be breaking with thousands of years of tradition!

Pardon me while I sidebar for a few minutes to sing along with Reb. Tevye.

However, the Reform and Conservative groups ARE trying to come to terms with the issue and meet amicably, and instead of doing so - they are having chairs, rocks, words and spit thrown at them. Instead of a hand of fellowship and some time out to examine halachah - they're getting the left foot of fellowship.


In their book, Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, The: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church, David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen describe this exact situation down to a "T" in chapters 4-7.

In chapter four, the set up is described as a shame-based system. We read; "Shame-based relationships build on an emotional foundation that undermines relational honesty; hinders a maturing individual relationship with God; and fosters dependence upon another, who grows in power as a false leader, building an unhealthy system in which appearance is more important than reality. These systems victimize people and set them up to be trapped in future abusive relationships."(p. 59 - you can read more here)

In chapter five, it's described as power posturing, performance preoccupation,  unspoken rules, and lack of balance. The authors said "If noticing problems is labeled disloyalty, lack of submission, divisiveness, and a challenge to authority, then there is only a facade of peace and unity. (p. 69 - you can read more here)"

 In chapter six, you find out that abusive systems generally will have a “ perception of a lot of evil on the outside, to keep people in, and there will be a lot of power postured on the inside to compel you to perform.” (p. 79 - you can read more here)  Generally speaking, what will happen at this point, is a lot of paranoia about the "outside" and a lot of security and learned helplessness and co-dependency on the inside of the group. Without the group, you won't survive. You'll be thrown to the lions!! You'll be leaving security for damnation.

In chapter seven, the authors discuss how there is a "don't talk rule" about issues that are considered incorrect in the spiritually abusive community. " is a false peace that is maintained by keeping a “can’t-talk” rule and sweeping all the problems under the rug. A true peace-maker is one who is able to help make peace where there is no peace, not one who helps cover up problems and keep them out of view. (read more here)"

Here's the thing. The author is basically not only implying that the women are sinful little Jezebels for doing what they are doing, but he also invalidated the practice of Mazorti/Conservative and Reform Judaism.

So, to the author that wrote this article, I'd simply like to say you're not even close to the mark on this article as to the realities of this issue, and you'd have done a whole heckuvalot better by just contacting Women of the Wall and officials from both the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements to get their take and understanding on halacha than this crazy piece today.

Grace, Peace and Understanding... It's for other sects of Judaism too.

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