OPINION: A Provocative Ruling for Provocative Women

The Kosel Hamaaravi (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Who needs enemies abroad, when you have enemies within?

Like those who despise anything that has a trace of Judaism, and who are ready at any time to create a scandal and to issue decrees, even when they know the decrees have no chance of implementation.

For all those who thought, just two months ago, that only the United Nations adopts resolutions according to which Israel must forego its rights to the Kosel, the justices of the High Court of Israel joined them on Wednesday with a ruling which hints that it is moving in the direction of ordering the state of Israel to open the Kosel to women dancing with sifrei Torah. In other words, to allow them to do whatever they want there.

Just a few hours after the weekly Hamodia went to press, with a long article on the female provocateurs who seek confrontations on behalf of foreign entities, the High Court has placed a “smoking gun” on the table in front of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers, a “show cause” order to be answered in 30 days as to why Rabbi of the Kosel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz does not permit the Women of the Wall to take out a sefer Torah from an aron kodesh at the site and dance with it on the way to reading from it at the traditional plaza.

This is a clear indication of what the Court intends to decide on the petition by several women’s groups, with financial backing from the New Israel Fund and other foreign groups who would like to see a revolution at the Kosel in the spirit of the Reform movement.

The judges, for many years alienated from Jewish tradition, who have sought time after time to bash Orthodox Judaism in Israel, have this time climbed a high limb, from which it is not clear even to themselves how they will be able to climb down from it.

For they know, just as Israeli security officials know, that the vast majority of mispallelim who visit the Kosel will never accept the imposition of such ceremonies. The court decision translates into an invitation to violent confrontation, chalilah, that the Israeli police will not be able to contain. How foolish to provoke among Jews a conflict whose outcome no one can foretell.

In the final analysis, it is clear that the government will block the intervention of the High Court in this matter. The law that Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri has proposed is already drafted and ready. No Israeli government coalition would be able to survive in the face of a High Court ruling such as this, without recourse to a law that will circumvent the Court and put it in its place.

It is worth noting, as well, that the interim injunction issued by the Court on Wednesday morning notified the Rabbi of the Kosel that security guards at the site must desist from searches of women who might be smuggling sifrei Torah into the plaza, as they have done several times in the past. Security checks must not deviate from the norm, they said.

One must also read between the concluding lines of the injunction: Not only may the state not prevent these women from desecrating the Kosel, it must enable them to carry out their provocations in the main Kosel plaza, disturbing the tefillos of those who come to the holy site every day, from morning to night, for the sake of those who arrive there once a month.

All this is because the judges have decided that the area thus far set aside for these women on the southern end of the Kosel, at Robinson’s Arch, is “not suitable” and does not “provide a solution such as the traditional plaza does.”

The Reform and Conservative groups in Israel, which have always sought to insinuate themselves in the official life of the state from its inception, celebrated the Court’s decision on Wednesday.

They issued a statement saying: “The High Court decision is great news for all women! Even though it seems there is no limit to the power of the Rabbinate and the Rabbi of the Kosel, the High Court has come with a decision that demonstrates both power and wisdom. Once again, it is clear that the Court is a place of strength opposite the cowardliness of the Knesset and the government.”

So, the government of Israel will soon face this test of fear and strength. It will have to decide whether it will continue with its chareidi partners, without whom it cannot survive for a single day—or choose to go with a few dozen provocative women.

But as for the holiness of the Kosel, no one will compromise.