Sunday, December 22, 2013

Azarath Yisra'el: The New Prayer Space at the Kotel

כ' לחודש העשירי תשע"ד 
Anniversary of the Passing of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon 

Life In Israel: Interesting Psak: Davening in the Azarat Yisrael
Here is an interesting halachic discussion that one could say is fairly new...

The Israeli government created a new section along the Kotel for egalitarian prayer. Some people have found that this is a nice quiet place to pray, and much of the time it is fairly empty. Some people have held family get-togethers and simchas in this "azarat yisrael" section, others just go there to pray privately and on their own, while occasionally a small group might form a minyan in this quiet section.

Someone sent a question to Rav Asher Weiss asking if a religious person is allowed to pray there, since it is designated for prayer services to be held by Women of the Wall..

"Azarath Yisra'el"

Rav Weiss's answer is to consider this place like any other Reform synagogue. Rav Weiss said that the gedolei hador have already prohibited, for a few reasons, for a frum Jew to go and pray in shuls of those organizations. One must stay far away from them, as they are disbelievers, and one is not even allowed to rent a room in their buildings to be used for making a minyan.

Even, Rav Weiss continues, if there is no issue of "maris ayin" - if it becomes public knowledge all around town that there is a private haredi minyan there, it would still not be allowed.

After trying to suggest possible justifications, Rav Weiss concludes by sticking to his guns that it is prohibited for a frum Jew to pray in the azarat yisrael. One must stay away from that area, as it is clear that they will use it in their propaganda showing how many people use the area under their control. One cannot do anything that can be used in a way that will strengthen them.

Rav Weiss concludes by adding that one should do everything in his power to put an end to this program of them controlling this area, as it is a desecration of the holiness of the place from where the shchina never left. (Source: Kikar)

Esser Agaroth (2¢):
Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home)
Minister of Religious Affairs
After reading and hearing about the Azarath Yisra'el, I finally saw it, when the photo above was sent to me by Tomer Devorah.

The Azarath Yisra'el was built rather quickly, as Naftali Bennett's so-called "compromise solution" to the Women Of The Wall problem.

Oh, I am sure that it might be a nice place to pray, away from the crowds. Still, when I saw the Azarath Yisra'el, I was hoping that it would buckle under the weight of the snowfall, or that the mouth of the earth would open, and swallow it up like Korah and his minyons, and that would be that,...without anyone on it or underneath it getting hurt, of course. But, no such luck.

Rav Asher Weiss's p'saq din (ruling) should certainly not come as a surprise to anyone. As he himself said, the gedolim have, in a way, already ruled on this matter.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l, Chief Sepharadi Rabbi during the 1980's, said that one should not even pass in front of a [so-called] Reform Synagogue, its doors being the mouth of Gehino'am. He was even said to have avoided the entrance to where such a group was praying, by entering the building where he was to speak at a kosher minyan, by the backdoor and through its kitchen.


Shy Guy said...

Ask a rabbi whether minnim and apikorsim can treif up any area of the kotel.

I'll give you an example: if you a Jew own a tree and some idolatrous tree worshiper declares your tree a deity and worships it, your tree is not forbidden for you.

The Kotel and the grounds around it belong to the tzibur. I do not think this is a simple matter. Don't give away our land so fast!

Esser Agaroth said...

My thoughts were that something else could built there instead, davqa.

Your example of the tree makes sense.

But, I believe that the public area being designated for "them" was the basis for R' Asher's p'saq, no?