Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”
Yesterday morning I was flooded with messages via WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram: “Attention friends! New rules at the Western Wall and anyone who breaks them could face a six-month prison sentence.” The ultra-Orthodox Shas Party wants to present a new bill next week: anyone who plays music at the Western Wall or is not dressed appropriately can be jailed for up to half a year. Guitars, violins, trumpets and drums will be banned from the Jewish holy site. The controversial party leader Aryeh Deri wants to get this and much more through in the Israeli parliament as quickly as possible. Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court in Israel ruled that Deri could not remain in his post as Minister of the Interior and Health. The judges ruled that the appointment was inappropriate based on Deri’s conviction for tax offenses last year.
Within hours the popular outrage was overwhelming, with people across the political spectrum urging Shas to shelf the proposal. Even Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was surprised by the initiative of his Orthodox allies. A Shas spokesman later announce that the prison sentences would be removed from the draft law. Still, Netanyahu had to reassure the people personally and directly in a video: “Don’t be afraid, the Kotel (Western Wall) will remain as it is. No one touches the status quo of the Western Wall. And should a bill ever be presented, then without prison terms.” That means whoever wants can continue to glorify God with a guitar at the Western Wall. So far this has always been possible.
An official statement by ultra-Orthodox officials said the proposed law was aimed at showing “respect to the Holy Place.” The Rabbinate has long sought to prevent mixed prayers of men and women, as well as women using prayer shawls, phylacteries and Torah scrolls at Judaism’s holy site. The Shas statement noted that “most Jews respect the sanctity of the place, with the exception of the Women of Provocation, who, under the auspices of the Supreme Court, keep turning it into a political battleground.” Women are not allowed to pray and sing like men at the Kotel.
All three of my boys did their bar mitzvah celebrations at the Western Wall, where they publicly read from the Torah scroll. With music, guitar and drums. No problem, this has always been normal and will probably remain so. One of Israel’s leading journalists, Amit Segal, who is himself a religious Jew, reminded his readers of Psalm 150:
“Hallelujah! Praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in the stronghold of his power! Praise him for his mighty deeds, praise him for his great majesty! Praise him with trumpets, praise him with psaltery and harp! Praise him with drums and dancing, praise him with strings and flute! Praise him with bright cymbals, praise him with loud cymbals! Everything that breathes praise the LORD! Hallelujah!”
What was permitted in King David’s day some in the government now want to forbid. Tempers in the country were raging. The absurd draft law was criticized by all sectors of the population on social networks. “The Western Wall is a sacred place for all of the Jewish people and does not belong to Jewish orthodoxy.” Even the Likud party was angered by the proposal. But this incident shows that Netanyahu must be vigilant and keep a close eye on his Orthodox allies. Others stressed that he is likely to be putting out many fires started by his allies during this tenure. Fireman Bibi.
The remains of the retaining wall of the Jewish Temple must not divide the people. Otherwise we are playing directly into the hands of our enemies. Where the first and second Temples once stood, the people of Zion and the Diaspora must come together as one. Otherwise, the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War in 1967 was in vain. What good is it for Israel and the Jewish people to live in a united holy city of Jerusalem if the people are not united. The biblical Temple Mount is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and must not lead to disharmony among the people. That was not God’s purpose for His dwelling place in Jerusalem.
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