The decision by the Israeli government to establish a mixed-gender, “pluralistic” prayer space at the Kosel handed an unprecedented victory to the Reform and Conservative movements, and dealt Torah Jewry a devastating blow.
Let us not delude ourselves. This battle was never about individuals, but about the sanctity of the holiest place on earth, and by extension about the very soul of our people.
Every individual born of a Jewish mother, or who underwent a halachic conversion, is a bona-fide Jew, and every effort must be made to bring all Jews closer to Hashem and His Torah. But at the same time, it is imperative that it is recognized that the practices and beliefs of the Reform and Conservatives movements are the antithesis of Torah Judaism.
We adhere to a Torah given to us by our Creator on Har Sinai, and therefore the precepts we live by are non-negotiable. Their religion, l’havdil, is a set of beliefs drafted by mortals and continually adapted to suit their comfort level.
The distaste these movements exhibit towards all things halachic can be traced to generations of total ignorance and a total disconnect from all that is sacred. They want to read aloud from a sefer Torah, but have no interest in keeping the commandments that are written in the Torah. Allowing them to have a dedicated area so near to the mekom haMikdash is a profound and blatant desecration of this most sacred site and is a terrible chillul Hashem. It will also legitimize their actions in the eyes of visitors and tourists who are so ignorant of their glorious heritage that they will be easily fooled into thinking that the individuals using this area are practicing Judaism.
Over the decades, countless estranged Jews sensed that a spark was kindled in their hearts during a visit to the Kosel, and for many this led them to learn the truth about their heritage and begin living a life of Torah and mitzvos. Now, with equal access to this new pluralistic services area, many wayward souls will choose to go there instead, cutting them off from a powerful source of inspiration.
Equally disturbing is the fact that this victory is only a stepping stone for the Reform and Conservative activists. Though they represent a tiny minority in Israel, they are backed by powerful interests in the United States, and they are determined to demolish whatever is left of the status quo. Their agenda is broad and extremely frightening. They will not rest until they have dug their claws into and totally distort every facet of religious life in Israel, including conversion, marriage, divorce and kashrus.
What is currently transpiring in Eretz Yisrael is a new chapter in a long-running war, the very same battle that was so courageously fought by the Chasam Sofer, Harav Samson Raphael Hirsch and many other Torah giants.
This is a time that calls for fortitude, bravery and moral courage.
In an age of political correctness, it is tempting for American Jewry to look the other way. But as Torah Jews we are obligated to do whatever we possibly can, both in terms of expressing our deep anguish and taking tangible steps to come to the aid of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael.