Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Right to "Wail" at the "Wall"


Much has been made of late, regarding the desire of those who are opposed to the "Disengagement" plan to "exploit" the Kotel (Wailing / Western Wall) by holding prayer vigils there.
The Western Wall plaza, the unifying symbol of Jewish rootedness, is never the right place to hold demonstrations... It is clear why the leadership of the anti-disengagement struggle wants to gather at Judaism's central site; there is indeed no place more appropriate to invoke divine assistance for the Jewish nation. But plans to hold a series of anti-disengagement "prayer vigils" at the Western Wall, culminating on Tisha Be'av - the day before the withdrawal is set to start - are divisive (this is no consensual Jewish struggle against a common outside enemy) and pose a genuine risk of violence.

I am curious as to why it is never right to gather in mass prayer at the Kotel? I agree that the Kotel is not the property of those who are against the "Disengagement" plan, but instead of opposing the desire of this camp to gather together and pour their hearts out in prayer to G-d (which is the epitome of non-violence) why not have those who are in favor have their own prayer vigil at the Kotel? The Kotel, so long as Jews are forbidden from praying on Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), is the closest that a Jew can come to the divine presence, and as such, it is only natural that during times of distress that the Jewish People will gather there in prayer. Let any who wish to pray to G-d, whether for or against "Disengagement" or for any other reason come and pray (so long as they are willing to follow the accepted rules and customs of the site) - there's plenty of room.

It is bad enough that the State has tried to stifle any form of meaningful protest by those opposed to the "Disengagement" plan. Will they now also act to forbid prayer to G-d as well?
The Talmud, in Tractate Yoma 9b, teaches that the destruction of the Second Temple, which led to two millennia of exile from the Land of Israel, was caused by unfounded hatred of brother against brother... Organizing "prayer vigils" at the Wall against disengagement suggests an erroneous parallel between it and the destruction of the temples... This cannot but lead to unfounded hatred between brothers.

Let us be clear. 1st, Praying at the Kotel is not what will lead to a rift within the Jewish People, rather it is the "Disengagement" plan that creates the potential for a rift. 2nd, should the destruction of the Jewish communities of Gush Katif and the Shomron be carried through C"V, it will represent a churban, no question about it. Will it be on the scale of the destruction of the Holy Temples or the Shoah? No, I think not. Let us not be confused. The "Disengagement" plan may be "legal", and those who are implementing it might be following the "rule of law", but it is not just, it is not moral, and it is a crime against the Jewish People (especially towards the thousands who are about to be expelled from their homes). 3rd, let me make it clear that I am not in favor of Jews hating each other for any reason, but let us not beleive that should such a rift occur that it be viewed as "baseless hatred". Sadly, there are many things to base such a hatred on, as a result of the "Disengagement" plan (heaven forbid).

The entire point of the prayer vigils at the Kotel is to pray for the peace and well being of the People of Israel, State of Israel and Land of Israel. The essence of prayer is the unity of the Jewish People, not divisivenss. If only those who are busying themselves with the impending destruction and expulsion of Jews from their homes would stop for a moment and open their hearts in prayer to G-d when considering ways to overcome the challenges facing the Jewish People today, then perhaps we wouldn't find ourselves in our current state of affairs.

Regardless of how one feels about "Disengagement", there is no doubt that we could all use more than a little help and love from Above these days, and I can think of few better places than the Kotel to go and ask for it.

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