Reading it I was encouraged, sympathetic even. I wish more Orthodox Rabbis, especially Haredim and especially Israeli Haredim, gave as much thought and voice to such sentiments. I wish more of our progressive friends did likewise in the other direction.
The Western Wall, like the Jewish nation, has both visible and hidden dimensions. It seems like a public and open place, but in reality – as anyone who has touched its stones will attest – it is a place of intimacy: intimacy between a Jew and his past, intimacy between man and his God. This intimacy is created during the wondrous moment when a man leans his head on the cool stones of the Western Wall and feels in the depths of his heart that he has returned home.
There’s just one problem here; women sadly appear to be forgotten or omitted. That’s a shame since that attitude is precisely what got us to this point. Thus what is clearly a heartfelt plea against Sinat Chinam and for inclusiveness from the Orthodox, even if it doesn’t mention the non-Orthodox outright, misses the point.
Yes, Rabbi, more unites us than divides us. Except when what unites us is the Western Wall and what divides at it are a mechitza and equal treatment.
We indeed are all brothers- except our sisters, who continue to receive insulting treatment at the Wall for exercising precisely what you describe as an ideal.
It is a place of intimacy: not just intimacy between a Jew and his past, but and Jew and hers as well. It is a place of intimacy between men AND women and our God.
Rabbi, I laud your words and pray that all Jews can come to the Wall and experience this intimacy at Har HaBayit. Until all men AND women can lean their heads on those cool shamir-carved stones and freely pour out their souls to Hashem, it will not feel like a home to far too many of our sisters, wives and mothers than either you or I desire.
And unless those who advocate otherwise heed your words, “ein m’nachem lah.”