As a coda to the discussion about the woman arrested for wearing a tallit at the Western Wall, this little Torah nugget came through my Facebook from my friend Simon. This, he writes, “opinion [was] expressed almost 300 years ago in R. Yom Tov Ben Yisrael Algazi’s Yom Tov deRabbanan, quoting his father, Yaakov Algazi, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem in the first half of the eighteenth century.”
Here is R. Algazi’s interpretation of Proverbs 31:25-31:
“The meaning of the expression ‘Strength and dignity are her clothing’ is that she used to put on tefillin and tallit, which are called ‘strength and dignity’ [based on Midrash Tehillim on Psalm 90], and the verse states that ‘she laugheth at the time to come’: that she has a reward in the time to come, in the next world. For even though she is performing a commandment that she is not obliged to perform, she still earns a reward … Her wisdom also supports her, because she doesn’t go and ask the rabbis whether to put them on or not — ‘She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and the law of kindness is on her tongue.’ — she performs time-dependent commandments that she is not obliged in on her own initiative and relies on her own opinion.”