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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Soon they'll ask to pray naked

The day when some progressive Women of the Wall-style organization petitions the Supreme Court, demanding recognition for women's right to pray at the Western Wall uncovered, is likely not far off. They will argue that it should be seen as the only proper expression for the direct connection between man and God, through a prayer emerging without any barriers.

As a precedent, the women of this organization will note the Creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden, where our ancestors were naked without being ashamed of it. Adam and Eve served God that way, in the highest place and time in the history of mankind, and would have continued to pray that way if it were not for the sin and expulsion.

Therefore, spiritual expression – by exposing oneself – should be recognized as the ultimate expression in the relationship between man and his Creator. After all, that is how the Creation happened, and that is how the first and complete religious encounter was created.

Rejecting their demand, these Women of the Wall will argue, will reflect a complete misunderstanding of the halachic tradition and Jewish philosophy, which was conceived in the initial Creation, and will badly damage the ethos opening and establishing the Torah and religion in general.

In the liberal and feminist atmosphere prevailing after the last Knesset elections, many in the public will support their approach, assuming that every person's autonomous desire for a religious, personal and unique expression must be respected. Many others will even support their stand in principle, by virtue of the liberal perception and Jewish ethics.

Offending public sentiments

The legal precedent allowing the Women of the Wall to pray at the Western Wall adorned with tefillin and covered with a tallit expresses the new trend which rejects the importance of the value of Jewish tradition, as the value of self-expression takes precedence over offending public sentiments.

I don't see any possible justification for rejection the demand of the women's organization to pray at the Western Wall uncovered. On the contrary, self-expression in this case is even more impressive, as this is the way the world was created.

Don't see this as a parody or – God forbid – as malicious joy, but as a possible and actual forecast. With the significant growth in the representation of feminist female Knesset members, the Jewish people are in for deep trouble on their part in this area as well. The foundation of secularism as a new religion by them (and by others) will place the entire nation on an unrestrained and boundless slope, which post-modern and post-Orthodox Zionist secularism is being swept to.

As it is safe to assume that the liberal trend will only grow stronger, we are in for a new and unsurprising precedent very soon, and following the ruling in favor of the covered Women of the Wall – the uncovered women's petition will be accepted as well.

Dov Halbertal is a Jewish law lecturer and former head of the chief rabbi's bureau

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