Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet on Tuesday in his office with several religious members of his coalition for a discussion of the official recognition of the Reform movement’s right to its own prayer area of the Western Wall.
The meeting will include Ministers Bennett and Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) and David Azulai (Shas), as well as Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, himself an Orthodox Jew, who led the formation of the Kotel Reform section outline, Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gaffney (UTJ), both Chief Rabbis, and the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.
The ultra-Orthodox factions in the coalition have been very critical of the compromise outline, which has already been celebrated with a public prayer at the site of Reform and Progressive Jews from around the world.
MK Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) told the Knesset Channel the government was heavily influenced by Reform money. “I don’t want to name the very senior politician who receives millions through some Reform Jew sitting in America who is pressuring him [on policy],” Eichler said, and did not go all the way to say the very senior politician was being bought and sold by a certain casino magnate who also owns several Republican politicians back home.
Eichler has been on a personal crusade, including here at the Jewish Press, to smoke out “Reform sponsors” who buy out Israeli politicians through fund endowments, invitations to lectures and tours abroad, and similar, legal but corrupting means. The Haredi MK demands that the disproportionate presence of Reform-funded lobbyists be publicized at every committee meeting to which they are invited — and those are numerous, he claims.
Meanwhile, in preparation for the Rosh Chodesh of Adar II (Friday, March 11), the Women of the Wall’s prayer leader Rachel Cohen Yeshurun has been asking for a donation of a particularly small and mobile Torah scroll, listing its requirements like Job Qualifications:
“You need to be little – small enough for me to covertly carry you on my person past the security guards assigned the task of preventing women from reading from the Torah at the Kotel.
“You need to be kosher – your parchment checked for mildew and all your letters need to be legible.
“You need to be brave – you might have some insults hurled at you or you might be arrested – but don’t worry, you’ll be well taken care of and adequately insured.
“If you think you’re up to the job, please have your owner contact Lesley Sachs, Executive Director of Women of the Wall, for details.”
Alas, the poor Torah scroll may discover the hard way that even if it is free from mildew and its letters are perfectly legible, it still would not qualify as kosher, as Rashi puts it (Gittin 45b): “A Torah scroll that was written by a heretic must be burned, because they obviously wrote it for the sake of idol worship.” And according to Maimonides, even the holy names written by a heretic are not sacred.
Maimonides teaches (Basic Laws of the Torah, 6:8) that while a Torah scroll written by a gentile must be buried like any Jewish text that has become too worn up to be used, but a Torah scroll written by a heretic must be burned, because the gentile wrote the scroll with his faith in God, but overlooked the law that only a Jew may write a Torah scroll. The heretic, on the other hand, wrote the Torah without faith in God, and so none of his handiwork may be allowed to remain.
Reprinted from the Jewish Press – author David Israel